You know, I used to think that I had lived through terrifying experiences. Seeing a massive spider in the shower, having a baby deliver herself without me realising it and watching The Walking Dead in the dark, but that was nothing on what happened with Optimus in Roma.
We’d just left Malealea and effortlessly driven the couple hours to our next stop in Roma. However after 99% of the journey on a beautiful tarred road (it must still be quite new), we had to go up a gravel hill to our accommodation. Not just any gravel hill. A speed bump riddled gravel hill. Obviously. But no problem, things had been going relatively well up until this point, why wouldn’t they continue? Because that my friends, would be too easy.
So at the top of the hill Optimus is like nope. Nuh uh. Here I will stop and I will go no further. Literally right around the corner from our desired accommodation. There we sit, the van cresting the top of the hill and me in the Figo a couple of metres behind, trying to figure out what to do.
The thing with Optimus is that he tends to draw a crowd and this is even more the case in Lesotho. So within minutes we had about 15 people watching us and then a couple offered to help. I’m still not entirely sure why, but Seth let one of the guys (who was adamant that he could get it up the hill) behind the wheel. Kyla still strapped into the passenger seat.
The next thing I know the van is rolling backward at speed, right towards my car!
It was pretty terrifying watching it unfold and your mind racing as to how this was going to play out. Not only was Kyla probably freaking out being stuck in there, the van is coming straight at me, bumping like crazy on the tiny annoying speed bumps and Seth is running towards the van with his hands up yelling to stop and pull the breaks. I immediately tried to get the car going and into reverse when, by the grace of God, the guy regained control with the brakes. What a moment!
Anyway, it worked out in the end and despite the sheer unlikeliness of it, after letting it cool down or like, regain it’s composure or whatever, Optimus decided to get us up the hill and into the accommodation. Phew.
At this point we were, understandably, a bit frazzled. And aside from that, we’d run out of coffee a couple of days before so going to get supplies was not only necessary but dire. (Possibly why Seth someone else drive the van in the first place!) The smaller towns of Lesotho don’t really have like, a Pick n Pay or anything similar. They have small bubbie shops that you can get a lot of tinned or dried goods, but not much in the way of fresh meat or filter coffee. (I’m sorry if you think it is, but Ricoffee is NOT coffee, it’s coffee flavoured brown stuff and in no way sufficient to keep us going). Luckily Roma is just a short (for us now) drive to Maseru (the Capital of Lesotho).
Needless to say, our aim was to hit a grocery store and shop it dry. I think we achieved our goal. We bought so much that we had to keep some of it in the car because there wasn’t enough space in Optimus haha. Luckily we didn’t have to drive him again for a while. It had been quite a while since we’d seen a familiar restaurant or had a steak so guys, when we saw the Spur, I’m not even ashamed to say that we were excited! It was the first place we stopped. We also bought walkie talkies for the car trips which completely changed the rest of the drives!
One of the really cool things about this area is the free pump track for the community kids. It is truly incredible to watch kids as small as Knox ride bikes made for Seth and not only keep their balance but ride the track at speed! It’s actually insane. The kids enjoyed it but I think after they fell a couple times they got a bit over it. It was too much for them to handle.
We spent the rest of the time in Roma teaching the kids how to play “Asshole” or as they now call it, “Butthead”. It’s a real learning curve how to gracefully be the butthead without feeling like a total loser, but they are getting there.
We also paid what we now realise was a drunk man, that we at the time thought was a mechanic, to help “fix” the van. What he did, I don’t know, but fix it he didn’t. In fact I’m pretty sure we paid him to mess it up a bit more which is just super freaking duper.
After a friend told me about the local dough balls called makoenyas, we had to try them, obviously. What could be better than fried dough? Let me tell you, when they are 50c a pop, NOTHING is better those dough balls!!
The rest of the time in Roma was spent working and catching up on school work. The kids are getting really good with their journal drawings. Knox especially has progressed here a lot. The rest though (written work and maths) is a mission. The girls lack the self motivation to keep themselves going so it’s beyond frustrating at some points. But it is what it is and we’re just trying to work around it as best we can.