Getting back to work and routine last week was a serious shock to the system. I made several starts at finishing off my Lesotho posts but never even made a dent. So after a very well deserved (at least I think it was well deserved 🙂 ) weekend, I’m here in front of the keyboard finishing up my final thoughts.
The trip was something special. Three very different friends on a mission to catch brown trout.
And we were successful. We all got good browns and returned with stories of tough fish that both go away and didn’t. But something I didn’t think about when I first crossed the Lesotho border, was the immense size of the experience itself. I’ve said it before; although the fishing was a focus, it became only part of the trip.
Our last couple of days were spent fishing up the Mokhotlong River. The laughs, debates and name-calling reached exceptional proportions and we fished a bit too. We stayed at a village high up the Mokhotlong river. Again the rainbows came to the dry. The rivers are full of small fish at the moment, all between 10 and 12 inches, and I found my mind wondering. The year past and ahead featured a bit. Issues of our generation. Politics and our country. But between all these things lay a happy contentness.
On the last day of fishing, after a very relaxing midday nap, I met up with Ryan and Rex for lunch. Rex had saved two beautiful pieces of Biltong and we were hungry! If Fey had had a knife with him, I’m sure he would have eaten himself. Problem was that neither Ryan nor myself had one either. Somehow I got blamed, seeing as I had had a knife every other day, and was tasked to make a plan. My inner caveman came out (maybe the endless Palio diet of meat, meat and a side serving of meat had taken its toll on me) and ended using a sharp edged stone to bludgeon the billies into chewable pieces. The laughter was contagious and between quiet moments of chewing our jaws to numbness, we reflected on the trip.
It wasn’t just about the fishing. I believe that if one travels to fish, and only pays attention to the fishing and forgets to learn from the experiences that surround the trip, that person has lost out. As Pete so aptly stated in the summing up of his Oman trip, his fly rod is his 9ft, 4 piece excuse to see the world.
Use it as reason to grow through experience.
Memories from this trip will stay with us for a long time. Ryan is already planning the trip for when he brings wife and daughter into these mountains and I know that Rex will be in the mountains before the winter cold arrives. I want to share it with others too. The nature of our trip was probably once-in-a-lifetime; not that we won’t come here again, but that we won’t ever do the same trip again. The three old friends, for 9 days, just as.
We finished our last day by sharing a batch of umqombothi (traditionally made sorghum beer) with the chief and several of the village elders before being invited to join the younger generation in the local shebeen for a party. We jolled into the night to sounds of local hits – the sound system was run by a 12v battery that, when it died, was recharged by the village’s generator (which was made mobile by a wheelbarrow). The genuine hospitality we experienced serves as bittersweet reminder of what the world should be like.
The next morning our packing was slow. As we left the village and meandered along the contour roads, I gazed on the rivers deep in the valleys, happy and eager for things to come.
What a trip!