On the road!

We’re in Ladysmith, South Africa, at the Crown Hotel (R920 for two rooms, two single beds each).  The jacarandas are still blooming, and the little town is bursting with Zulu people and language.

Tumisang, 21, is in heaven. “It’s my first time to see the inside of a hotel. This is the life! Like on TV!” Libuseng, 27, has never seen one either, but she’s older and hides her dazzlement behind a shy smile and big eyes. M’e Mpho takes it in stride and worries about the car being stolen from the hotel parking lot. I was willing to pay almost any price to get a shower and a bed.

I hired a Kia from Avis in Lesotho. It turns out the enormous additional fee for taking the car into South Africa only applies if you leave the car in ZA. I am doing all the driving myself.

The LAN line for Avis is down. It was necessary to acquire the personal cell phone number of a man who works for Avis in order to reserve a car. The arrangement I made is that we would pick the car up at the airport and return it in Maseru. When we got to the airport, the car had been taken to Maseru and we had to wait an hour for it to be returned to the airport so we could begin the journey. We sat in the airport, excited and yet a little nervous, uncertain if a car would really show up. Clocks ticking. Nothing much happening.

On the way down, we drove through drought-ravaged South Africa. When we stopped at a Wimpy’s in Bethlehem for lunch, despite the rather shocking high prices for mediocre food, what troubled us most is that we couldn’t wash our hands or use the toilet.

The roads are just about all under construction. This means we drive for a while, come to a stop, and wait twenty minutes or so for the traffic from the other side to pass. Then we drive like bats out of hell for fifteen or twenty minutes on the one-lane highway, only to get to the next spot where we wait again. What should take three hours takes six. What should take half a day takes a whole day.

But the biggest news of all is that the drought broke last night as we slept in this large, clean, comfortable hotel. It’s pouring rain. This will make driving more treacherous as the dusty roads turn to mud-slicks perfect for hydroplaning, but the whole southern African world is dancing for joy. Rain, sweet rain. The forecast is that it will keep raining the whole time we’re at the beach, but we are all so happy for the land and the people. Of course we are now in KwaZulu-Natal, where it rains more anyway, but according to the flat-screen TVs mounted on the walls of our rooms, there was “heavy rain” in Lesotho last night. This is mixed news. A drizzle would be ideal. Heavy rain means erosion, mudslides, loss of topsoil (and seeds just planted). But even heavy rain means water in the taps, the dams, and the rivers. Water to drink and to wash with. Yes!

I’m in an internet place in Ladysmith and must return to the hotel for checkout and continue our trip to Durban and the home of Kesavan and Bryan, who are so generously receiving us tonight. We’ve come half the way, and it took us seven hours of driving after the three hours it took to get out of Lesotho. No time to reply to comments or check email, but a big hug of thanks to you who are following, occasionally commenting,  and sharing the suspense, the wonder, the suffering, and the surprises with me on the way.


About Kendall

Aging drama queen (former professor of theatre) writes, takes pictures, and messes about.
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18 Responses to On the road!

  1. Bill says:

    I am with you Kendall..enjoying the journey through your “fingertips”…be well

  2. Ann says:

    How wonderful to hear that you made it that far, bless you, dear Kendall. Hopefully the roads are safe to drive despite the rain and mud. Hope you’ll make it to Kesavan and to the ocean safe and sound. All of you.
    Great news. Rain, sweet rain in Lesotho. Some prayers have been answered after all.
    Love and blessings.

  3. suenosdeuomi says:

    You are so resourceful, I am impressed. Safe travel and have a wonderful time.

  4. well, you did mention the darkest hour before dawn, which it seems it was when you said that … almost restores one’s faith in destiny or whatever you want to call it. And what an expedition, trying to follow it on google-earth!

  5. John Guarino says:

    As my Dad would have said, when life makes you slide, steer into the skid…

  6. Darlene Olivo says:

    Once again my alarm was for naught, it seems. I am relieved and joyful that you have accomplished this and are going to see your dream through. Last night I watched a movie, “Wonderful World,” in which the magic of tiny fish falling from the Senegalese sky during a strong rain came true. It’s an American story with two Senegalese characters. Anyway, I think of the rains and their power to bring and take life. How totally fabulous it will be to carry out your promise to bring your beloveds to the ocean.


    BTW: as of a half-hour ago, eleven of the Chilean miners have surfaced, with everything going smoothly. More reasons to rejoice!

  7. leiflife says:

    I join with the others in celebrating the turning of the tide – and/or the falling of the rain. Yay, Kendall! Blessings abound. May they continue as long as they will, and may you be safe on your journey. Love and happy moments to all of you…

  8. Margareta says:

    I just knew you would find a way to make this grand dream come true. Bravo!

  9. Betsey L. Josselyn says:

    Bless you! Be safe.

    19th miner on the way up, miracles everywhere.

  10. Kim Sharp says:

    Good and safe travel to you all. BTW you rock! I would love to see those eyes of wonderment at the sight of the inside of a motel. Enjoy!

  11. marc falardeau says:

    I have been sharing your blog with a co-worker/
    women, 35- from Uganda, she can understand
    but thinks no one from north america can relate.
    today she gave me a Ugandan Flag and pleaded
    to learn about Africa.
    She says i will be a better person for it.
    I know she is correct-
    be safe,

    to see the ocean at 80-
    oh the tears

  12. revjett says:

    You continue to be in my prayers.

  13. Barbara Charman says:

    The joy of sharing the joy and discovery of others. Drive safely with your precious cargo.

  14. Kendall says:

    Thank you all for your cheers, for your news, for your comments and your blessings and whatever you send in your own ways. We are here. This is glorious. And I feel like the person in the cell phone ad who looks around and sees a crowd standing by him. You are there. I love your being there.

  15. Keith says:

    Yes!!!! (Imagine the sound of me cheering). Chapter two of the thriller did not disappoint. But we’re (ie. you’re) not there yet. Read on…!

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