First, we need to let you know that we are having a terrible time uploading images to the blog. We have tried repeatedly and have failed each time. Please know we ARE taking many pictures and will share those when we return.
We departed from Aliwal North on Friday, September 21 and drove to a halfway point between Aliwal North and Maseru. Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the halfway point and did not see any Rotarians to take us the rest of the way! We waited for about 20 minutes and finally called our contact in Maseru. Oh no...he had not left Maseru nor had he arranged for transportation! We had to think fast, but luckily our wonderful Aliwal North hosts agreed to drive us the rest of the way to Maseru.
Crossing the border into Lesotho was scary. We ALL felt extremely unsafe as we made our way through the dense crowd to the Customs Office. We waited and waited but nobody arrived to take us to our host families! After several tense phone calls, two vehicles arrived and we were on our way.
We arrived at the Lesotho Convention Center and were greeted by many friendly Rotarians at the District 9320 Conference. We went home with our host families to shower and change clothes.
That afternoon and evening, we enjoyed the opening ceremonies for the district conference. I was asked to carry the Canadian flag in the procession of flags! We met the GSE Team from Colorado and also some Ambassadorial Scholars from the U.S. That evening, we had a nice meal and retired for some much needed rest.
The following morning (Saturday), we woke early and joined the GSE team from Colorado for a 2-hour drive into the HIGH Lesotho Mountains (over 6,000 feet) to tour the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. This is a joint project between Lesotho and South Africa that was begun in 1986. The project will span 50 years and involves the construction of 5 major dams as well as a sophisticated hydroelectric power system. Lesotho is a water-rich nation while South African provinces such as Gauteng are water-poor. Water is diverted from the mountains to South Africa. Lesotho also exports electricity to South Africa. Two hours up the mountain road meant two hours DOWN the mountain road. It was a long morning...
That afternoon we enjoyed seeing the Colorado GSE team's presentation after a nice lunch. That evening, we had a "cultural night" during which we saw traditional South African and Zulu dances. Another great meal finished off this busy day.
Sunday morning found us anxious because it was now OUR turn to give our presentation to the district! After a quick lunch, we did our presentation flawlessly and even received a standing ovation. We finished the day with the concluding banquet during which Elizabeth presented a South Carolina flag to King Letsie III. The South Carolina flag we presented has flown over the State House in Columbia. Tomorow morning -- on to Bloemfontein.
Will Moody, Team Member
P.S. The blog from Aliwal North will be posted soon.