29th of June 2018
We picked up the Land Cruiser on Wednesday night and left Maseru early on Thursday morning. We were heading back to Mokhotlong to pick up our Karavan or so we thought! Pauline and I were busy chatting away about this and that and didn’t realise that I had missed a turn and were in actual fact heading the wrong way! We eventually worked it out and turned around to head in the right direction with me feeling very sheepish and embarrassed (rookie mistake 1). It was a great drive back to Mokhotlong which I had missed on the way to Maseru because I was locked in the back of Veronica’s camper van!
The Landcruiser seemed to be pulling well and all was good in the World. The Lesotho people living up here in the mountains live a very hard and arduous life, especially the herders. They live with the herd at over 2500 metres and overnight in communal herders stone huts with what looks like no heating. They have the clothes they stand in, a pair of gum-boots, a balaclava and a heavy blanket that they drape over their shoulders and if lucky a dog to cuddle up to. We saw many of them in the mornings perched on a rock facing the sun trying to absorb as much warmth as they could. We stopped and spoke to one of them lying on a rock cuddled up to his dog and offered him an orange but he said no thank you “I just want you to give me job”. Quite sobering but we offered our apologies for not being able to offer him a job but convinced him to take the orange anyway.
As we entered Mokhotlong again the Landcruiser engine gave a small miss and I nearly died, have we been cursed by Mokhotlong? Back at the Senqu Hotel we were welcomed with excited open arms and big smiles and they insisted that they give us a discount for our room that night. You have to love the kindness, warmth and generosity of these beautiful people. We immediately hooked up the Karavan and made ready for an early start the next morning but then had second thoughts of the early start after remembering that Henry (mechanic) said that part of our problem could be cold fuel that turns waxy and blocks the filter. So we waited until 8am and went out to the Landcruiser to find ice all over the bonnet and windscreen! Ah well lets give this a shot anyway and away we went it seemed to be going well with the land cruiser pulling well up the incredibly steep climbs with some mountain passes in excess of 3400 metres.
However it wasn’t long before I realised that it was only pulling well up to 2000rpm or maybe 2500rpm in any given gear. My fears and concerns were flooding back and we had at least 100kms to drive to get out of the mountains and some incredibly high mountain passes to get over. So we just kept going, ticking off one pass after another and eventually after two and a half hours came down off the last pass and high fived each other. On one of these passes we came upon the Afriski Mountain Resort and stopped to have a look and take some photos. They haven’t yet had any natural snow but have been making man made snow to start the season and at 9am when we stopped it was quite busy as it is the school holidays at the moment.
Even if we broke down now a recovery would be a lot easier and we were much closer to our favourite mechanic Henry. I had thought that once down from the mountains that maybe the fuel would warm up and it would then be able to rev out past 2500rpm but no this did not happen which made it very difficult to overtake thus making it a slow trip back to Maseru. We had already called Henry and he suggested that the fuel filter was possibly clogged and that we should return so that he could also put on the diagnostic computer. Veronica who had chosen not to make the trip back to Mokhotlong had made the trip to the Katse Dam and we were to meet her there. So I called her and told her the news and suggested we meet at Maseru or nearby the next day to go to the Maletsunyane Falls.
We arrived at Maseru Toyota at 2.45pm with Henry waiting for us and he immediately took the Cruiser and us for a test drive so that he could see for himself what was happening. When we got back he put the car on the diagnostic computer and then worked out that yes we still had a fuel supply problem and that the standard Toyota filter fitted to this vehicle was not going to work here in Lesotho. So he decided that we needed to change it to a filter designed for use with this standard of fuel but not compromising the engine. So hopefully tomorrow morning after Henry has taken the Cruiser for an extended test run we should be ready to go again.
Tonight we are staying at the Kick4Life Hotel which is run by the local soccer club. We have a beautiful room and the staff are just delightful. We enjoyed dinner and drinks while watching the England V Belgium game.
Oh and by the way we are still smiling as we travel through The Kingdom in the Sky.