South Africa Educational Study Program


June 6, 2007

We awoke to the sound of a bell ringing, notifying us it was breakfast time at the Inkosana Lodge.  After a hearty meal of oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, eggs and sausage, we loaded the bus to begin our journey to Lesotho.  After making a couple stops for the bathroom, we landed in Clarins, South Africa for lunch and a little shopping.  People picked up gifts, such as beads and homemade goodies.  We boarded the bus once again and continued on to our destination. 

Lesotho is an independent country within South Africa, therefore we had to cross the border and check in with customs.  After Rina, our fearless leader, cleared our passports, we continued on in the bus until reaching our stop at the Malealea Lodge.  We only have electricity for five hours each night.  Lesotho is also the coldest place we will be staying.  After settling into our huts, we regrouped at the dining room for a delicious dinner of t-bone steak, potatoes, a cabbage dish, pop and a delicious dessert with warm custard.  We also celebrated Lilly’s 20th birthday with a candlelit cake.  After a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” we went back to our huts to make the most of our lights until 10:00 p.m. and to prepare for the exciting next day of a six-hour pony trek into the scenic landscape.  

June 7, 2007

We woke up bright and early this morning in anticipation of our 6 hour pony trek.  After a scrumptious breakfast of cereal and eggs, and let us not forget or favorite; toast and jam, we headed out to meet our ponies and our guides.  We were well equipped with our leather saddle bags filled with our ready packed lunches and our dashing helmets.  We mounted our ponies while the teachers (and Abby) watched from the side, waiting for their jeep ride.  We were each given a pony and a few of us opted to hire a personal guide.  Before we knew it we were off for a ride we would never forget!  While we were excited for the trek we were nervous about the frigid early morning temperatures and the possible rain storms ahead; however the beautiful scenery and rugged terrain soon captivated our attention.  Our fearless pony’s (Superman, Faru, Sunflower, Blue, Red Sea and Blanket—to name a few) led us over mountains and across the valley, passing local herders and mountain villages.  About an hour and a half later we were relieved to give our bums a break and dismount from our pony’s at our first stop; a beautiful waterfall.  We were led by a local guide down a steep and slippery mountainside.  We all managed to make it safely to the picturesque waterfall except for one fellow trekker.  Poor Amanda Wirene slid down the end of the path, but managed to prevent herself from sliding into the river.  What a trooper she was!  
After managing our way back up the muddy mountain, we hopped back on our ponies who were eagerly awaiting the rest of our journey.  We trotted our way for two more hours through rocks and mud all the while taking in the breath taking landscape.  At times we took paths we didn’t know humans or horses were capable of surpassing.  But alas, we made it through alive!  We eventually found ourselves on a mountain-top for our second stop.  After munching on our tasty lunches-some of which we shared with our guides-we were curious as to where we would go next,  as all we had seen was the deep abyss at our feet.  As our guides pointed down the valley, we bravely began our descent to see 400 year-old bushman paintings.  Our guide, Larato-meaning love in sotho-led us over rivers and down the mountain where we saw three different spots where the paintings were still preserved.  We couldn’t leave without shouting “Skidmore!” into the mountains from the cave to hear a resounding echo.  Once we made it back to the top we got back on our horses and headed back for the last hour of our trek.  We were all glad to have made it back safely and enjoyed the trip very much!  It will take our tushies a few days to recover, but all in all we are glad we accomplished such an amazing feat!
Back at camp we were happy to warm up in a hot shower and then made our way to the heated bar area of the lodge.  We hung out reading and chitchatting, sharing stories from the fun-filled day.  Off in the distance we heard the faint sounds of the local Malealea choir and gathered in the game room for a wonderful performance.  After a beautiful concert by the choir, the Soto Sounds, a local band, took the stage and entertained us with great music and great dance moves.  Before long a dance party sparked up where we learned some difficult local dance moves.  A great way to work up an appetite before dinner!  After a dinner of rice, chicken, green beans and butternut squash we headed back into the bar where we made friends with a group of Irish high schoolers who were visiting on a community service trip.  Brendan, one of the Irish boys, took out his guitar and sang for us both well known and traditional Irish tune.

We felt we had to represent our group, so our resident singer, Ali Wiggins got up to the mike and sang “I feel the Earth Move” for the crowd, blowing everyone away!  After singing and some good laughs, we were all exhausted and headed off to bed with smiles.