South Africa, Ben Tula, Wei King discussed on Travel with Rick Steves
For joining us. Thanks so much for having me rick. This is really exciting to be on the show relatives fighting for me to talk to somebody. Who's ben tula sue. Because honestly i've always looked at the map. And i see those little dots in south africa first of all. How does south africa happen. Which is a very strong and powerful country. There's a couple of little countries like this right embedded in the middle of the country. Yes swaziland is kind of tucked over by the side and they have a little bit of mozambique. I believe bordering one side of them. But let's sue is totally encapsulated. It's its own enclave nation. Right there in the middle of south africa is it kinda like we'd have an indian reservation in the middle of the united states that was considered a country. Yeah that i mean that might be an interesting parallel there. The history of it kind of comes from this. I king of lesotho to who was a guy named hsi-wei king mishmash way the first who was a very charismatic leader of the nation. There he kind of got. The country started back in the mid eighteen fifties. He had gathered various tribes and kind of farmer collectives altogether in this area and developed this nation and Over time there were had conflicts with various other tribes of conflicts with the british and over all the years mishmash was able to maintain the sense of national identity. There and after having a couple encounters with the british and repulsing the british eventually came to an agreement with them to say. Hey we we are willing to work out an agreement with you guys and become a british protectorate but we want to maintain our sense of national identity and roughly how big is lawsuit to and how many people live there. So there's about two million people there. And i've seen some comparisons saying it's about the size of maryland. Okay something like that. So it's not not that big of a place that i guess. Compared to south africa it looks small. But that's a substantial amount of land to drive across it. Would it be like fifty miles across or hundred miles across I think it's bigger than that. But the issue in that is very mountainous country right and so the roads. Once you get up into the mountains the roads are very rough and so it can take a long time to get from one side of the country to another generally speaking when we would come into the capital city of macedo and where we were living which is a very rural area called mahat long. It would take pretty much most of a day to get from one side of the country to you know. That's one thing. Travelers need to remember. If you've been in germany and you you're going to go from a to b. There's probably going to be a autobahn there. You're going to average eighty miles an hour I remember when i was going to be in india or nepal averaged six miles an hour. I remember it took me. I thought oh sixty miles. that's not. It took me ten hours and that's not because there was traffic jams. It's just that's the way it is so much of the developing world anyways You gotta be really conservative about how much ground you can cover in a given amount of time mcgrath. Introduces us to listen to in his book. Everything lost his found again. His website is will mcgrath dot net. So we'll how did it happen that you ended up living in the suit so my wife is a cultural anthropologist and her research is based there in the country of she does work with aids and hiv and she does work with family structures and ken ships and child care and orphan care and so unfortunately To sits at this intersection of her two main research interests. So that's initially what brought us there was looking at how families are adapting to the hiv. Pandemic in you went along as the spouse in your writer and you decided to write a book. Yeah i i mean i. I'm not sure. I was necessarily thinking of writing a book from the beginning but i was excited to go along and learn about this place that i knew nothing about and to see a very different part of the world from from what i knew so yeah i was initially along kind of along for the ride and then along the way i did things like i taught high school for a while there and we were both kind of connected with a local ngo in this rural area. So i would help out at this place sometimes so. Tell us the gist of your book. Everything lost is found again Wh what inspired you to suddenly say. I'm gonna put pen to paper and share what i'm learning or what what's your gender with the book. Yeah well i think in the west we have. We have very stereotype notions about what africa is an. I'm kind of using you. Know air quotes around that word. In general so i wanted to to really look at. What was this country this very specific part of lawsuit to in a certain way. I was inspired by. There's a nigerian writer. Jim amanda ghozi a. She wrote an essay a couple years back about how in the west we have the single story of africa. You know all we kind of know. Is this cliche notion of general tragedy. Some sort of generalized suffering in some way so that was so different. From what i encountered. They're over our time there. So i i wanted to be part of the solution to what outta cheese writing about to avoiding the single story of rakha. I wanted to get into what the you know. The specifics of this gorgeous country of lesotho to and to really kind of get into the granularity of the human experience of what life is like there and especially to celebrate you. The joyfulness that i saw there. I mean it would be wrong to look away or to ignore certain tragedies that are happening. you can't avoid that. But i think it's important to represent and celebrate all the good things that happen to show the kind of happy hilarious mundane parts of life. That's something that i think is is really a challenge for a lot of us because in america we think well being is preceded by material your material well-being and there's not a lot of material well-being in much of the world and we can if we find joyfulness in the poor world we can. We can tend to romanticize it But i think there is a lot of joy in a world where people would never own a car or or have a fancy house and that unless you go there and you sit around you talk about people telling dirty jokes. I mean it's interesting to think of american and laughing dirty jokes these people. Are you talking about.