Postcard from Semonkong Falls

SEMONKONG, Lesotho — It took three hours of driving through the majestic, almost monotonously majestic, mountains of Lesotho, including the last 90 minutes bumping along unpaved roads. Oh, was it worth it.

Semonkong — Sesotho for “The Place of Smoke” — is best known for the Maletsunyane Falls, which at 192 meters is one of the tallest waterfalls in Africa. But more striking is the unspoilt landscape — and authenticity of Basotho village life. I was tempted to toss a Coke can to the ground, just to remind me of home.

This is no ethnographic-museum gimmick. The Basotho are a mountain folk, yesterday and today. From a nation of 2 million – perched as The Kingdom in the Sky – just one-tenth live in the capital, Maseru, as my neighbors. So it’s no exaggeration to say most Basotho live like those you’ll glimpse below. A simple life, but one filled with hardship: HIV, poverty and malnutrition.

Hope you enjoy viewing my photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Basotho cowboys, home on the range — adorned in the ubiquitous “Basotho Blanket.” (Photo: mjj)

The Basotho, a handsome people. (Photo: mjj)
Among the asses, hauling sacks of maize meal. (Photo: mjj)
Lesotho’s for lovers. (Photo: mjj)
A colorful cloak signifies church laywoman. (Photo: mjj)
Light graze before lunch. (Photo: mjj)
A boy battens down his cargo. (Photo: mjj)
The rondeval. I must try sleeping in one. (Photo: mjj)

The “spiral aloe,” unique to Lesotho. (Photo: mjj)
A stern herd-boy. (Photo: mjj)

The Basotho BMW of travel. (Photo: mjj)
The Trabant of Basotho travel. (Photo: mjj)

A case for chiropracty. (Photo: mjj)

Fetching water. (Photo: mjj)

She got a signal out here? (Photo: mjj)
The prized cargo are sacks of papa, or maize meal, the dietary staple. (Photo: mjj)
As they passed, the view was even better. (Photo: mjj)
The grassy highlands of Lesotho. (Photo: mjj)

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