If you have the chance to travel to two continents in your life, travel to Africa. Twice. Not only are the chances for (unplanned) adventures so much higher on this massive continent, but it will be unlike anything you have ever seen before.
We live a privileged life as rich fat Westerners, and Africa makes you realize that very fast. Two weeks ago I witnessed the stark contrast between Western life and the way the other half of the world lives in a road trip across South Africa to the tiny kingdom of Lesotho. Urban sprawl diminished as Cape Town disappeared over the horizon behind us, and signs of country living abounded. Rolling green hills, each sprinkled with shacks and sheep and cows, stretched on for hundreds of kilometers. Inside out sealed metal tube, supreme poverty rocketed past at 100kph.
We backpacked into Lesotho, where more poverty met our eyes. After a burger and a Gluwein at the highest pub in Africa, we ventured onto the rolling plains of Lesotho, situated at 3000 meters above sea level. Stone shacks with thatched roofs adorned the tops of the mountains here, with walls of stone erected around them as an attempt to stall the biting wind.
And yet we didn’t meet a single impoverished person.
We met plenty of poor people, but their white teeth shined, their lithe muscles worked with incredible vitality, and what little tattered clothing they wore seemed to adorn their proud bodies more glamorously than Banana Republic or Calvin Klein ever could. Up in the mountains, out in the boonies, these people lived their simple lives: herding sheep, collecting water, and watching out for family. And I have never met happier, more genuine people. Poverty, in the face of such contentment, is nothing.
Anyway, our trip is quite exciting. I almost got bit by a snake, it snowed on us (in Africa!?), we had to bail out of Lesotho and sleep in a baboon cave shivering all night long until the glorious sunny morning, we hitchhiked in the back of ranger pickups on insane 4×4 roads, and I ate 20 Snickers bars!
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