On the boat for life and fun

’MAPALO NKHELOANE

QACHA’S NEK – Life is not so merry and jolly for residents of the rural outskirts of Qacha’s Nek. Riding a boat to cross the mighty Senqu River to or from a destination is a lifestyle for villagers of Tebellong and neighbouring villages in the district of Qacha’s Nek.

While riding a boat is only a dream that may never even come true for many in Lesotho, it is a daily alternative for Tebellong villagers.

Located in a mountainous remote area of Qacha’s Nek, just besides the river Senqu, the village has service points that are hard to reach.

An example is one of the Christian Health Association of Lesotho’s Tebellong Hospital whose services are highly in demand.

Patients, irrespective of their health state, have to cross the Senqu River to get to Tebellong Hospital and largely boats are first option for transport.

Some village men have recognized an opportunity to erk a living off the reigning situation by offering paddle-boats and helping people cross to the other side.

Speaking to Public Eye, one of the paddlers indicated that they charge a mere M10 per person crossing.

While many cross the river this way on pressing reasons, the crossing is also for entertainment purposes.

The river, which is not full yet, is referred to as Fantasy Beach seeing that Lesotho does not have an ocean.

It is said that people go as far as hosting events such as a beach party and dress the part.

“It is very amazing that people are able to turn what would be regarded to as a no-go area into something for fun. I mean one would see the river and think his or her life maybe in danger. This not the case with Tebellong villagers,” says one of the boat owners.

He continues: “Another exciting thing about this place is getting to meet new people from other districts. They are always so excited about the view and boat riding; although I must mention that fear also tags along and fades away eventually after a couple of rides.

“It therefore gives me great satisfaction knowing I helped someone overcome his or her fear. Apart from that, that works in our favour as well because if riders are satisfied, it means they would easily spread the good news upon arrival at their respective homes and then the more, the merrier,” he adds.

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