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A Welcome Relief…

Early yesterday afternoon I could see that rain was coming. Not something that would excite most people back home in the UK but here in Lesotho we have been desperate for rain. It has been unseasonably hot & dry. Rivers & springs have been running dry & people across the country have been struggling to get water to drink.

The dried up Mekheleng River, Mohale's Hoek, Lesotho

The dried up Mekheleng River, Mohale’s Hoek, Lesotho

According to one local man on the banks of the now dry Mekheleng river, near Mohale’s Hoek, it has not been this dry since 1997 (the last time water stopped flowing). In some areas people have had to resort to digging in the sand in the riverbeds to find water to drink. A far cry from being able to turn on the tap in your house & get clean drinking water, like most of us are used to doing. Although the spring that supplies the project has a much reduced flow we have been able to top it up from our reserve spring. We are amongst the fortunate ones.

Elsewhere, farmers across the country have become increasingly desperate, as the spring rains that allow planting to take place have failed to materialize. The Lesotho Metrological Service recently sent out text (sms) messages to say that rain was not forecast until March next year. Being based at Growing Nations, a Conservation Agriculture demonstration farm, we check the on-line weather forecasts regularly, but we have learnt that rain predicted just a day or two earlier often does not appear, sliding down the Western side of the country or skirting to the North or South.

Dried up river in Motsekoua, Lesotho

No water here…The river in Motsekoua, Lesotho

Rain was predicted the day before yesterday & although it rained in many parts of the country, Maphutseng remained dry so when it looked like it would rain I decided that I would try and capture the approaching storm from a slightly different angle.

I jumped in our Landy and headed through the village to the river with the aim of crossing it and gaining some height on the other side to look back across the valley. Progress to the river was painfully slow. The track to the river had got worse over the past year with some sections difficult to get through, especially when racing to beat the weather. Thankfully that is one advantage of driving a Landy & I made it safely to the river, where I stopped to grab a few photos of the lack of water, before driving up towards the new road on the other side of the valley.

Maphutseng River

Maphutseng River

As I climbed up away from the river I could see that the storm was fast approaching so I decided to stop and take some photos looking back towards Snake Mountain with the swirling clouds above.

Approaching storm, Maphutseng Valey

Approaching storm, Maphutseng Valey

A friendly shepherd passed by on the way to the river whilst I was photographing the scene & he was happy to be photographed too, a bonus.

Shepherd in blanket, Maphusteng Valley, Lesotho

Looking for grazing in the dust

Looking for grazing in the dust

Back in the Landy I headed higher up the valley in the hope of a better viewpoint. Alas the storm was upon me before I found a better view. I could see it coming across the valley, preceded by gusting winds that picked up clouds of dust from the fields, along with that came the driving rain, which made any more photography impossible.

Approaching Storm

Approaching Storm

I stopped & gave a lift to a young couple to the next village who were grateful to have been rescued from the storm. I dropped them off at their newly thatched rondavel, hopefully a subject of future photos in better conditions, and drove on along the new road to Stanteng, the next village up the valley.

When I got home it was still raining so I started to process the photos & put together some of the panoramic images that I had taken. The rain continued & I didn’t really think that anything else would happen as the grey sky looked like it was set in for a while. I should of course have known better!

If you have read my previous blog posts you will know that after almost every storm something special happens. Yesterday was no exception. It was still raining when a shaft of sunlight lit up the valley & a beautiful rainbow formed against the mountain backdrop.

Double Rainbow, Maphutseng Valley, Lesotho

After the rainbow faded, when most people would have turned away, I stayed & watched, transfixed by the wonder of the ever changing light on the mountains and the clouds as they raced across the sky. Praising God for his amazing creation.Evening light after the storm, Maphutseng Valley, Lesotho

Evening light after the storm in the Maphutseng Valley

Evening light after the storm

We still need more rain for the farmers to plant & the springs to be refreshed but we are grateful for the rain that fell yesterday.   For everyone’s sake here in Lesotho we hope & pray that it will arrive soon.



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