Border crossing

Jun 1, 2015

Panoramic view of the mountains. Panoramic view of the mountains.

It’s hard to believe we have been here for only a week and a half, it really feels like so much longer. We have made so many new friends here and are starting to feel very settled in our new home.  It has been long enough for us to appreciate how much we have learned about the warm culture of Lesotho but short enough for us to also recognize how much we have yet to learn. The exceptional hospitality we have experienced reminds me of how I was raised, in Vietnamese culture the comfort of our guests is an absolute priority. We always try our best to accommodate our guests and make them feel as welcome as possible. In that way I think I sort of understand the nature of our interactions.  I hope that we don’t cause too much trouble for our thoughtful hosts.

On Friday, while Trista and I were working on internet-dependent projects, Dr. Corless and Mirian found us and told us that Dr. Ranotzi kindly offered to take us all along with her on a trip to Ficksburg. I wondered what is this place called Ficksburg? To my delight, I learned it was right across the border in South Africa! A little after two in the afternoon, we all hopped into Dr. Ranotzi’s car and headed out. The road to Ficksburg was constantly changing, ranging from long stretches of unpaved bumpy roads to newly constructed roads and busy market streets. We saw more of the gorgeous terrain of mountains and highlands. We also got to see some of my favorite things, traditional clothing, tall trees, local houses and animals. To me, they tell us a lot without words.

Roadside herd. Roadside herd of sheep.

After driving for over an hour and a half or so, Dr. Ranotzi pointed to the other side of the mountain and told us there was Ficksburg. Although we were so close, we soon realized that for us to reach our destination it would have to take some time. We had to be approved to leave Lesotho. The process was quite interesting. First we had to queue up behind a really long line of interweaving cars. Then when we came close to the station, we parked the car in a spot that did not really look like a parking space. It felt like as if we just parked our car slightly to the side of a busy one-way street and got out. We then queued up in another line, where we waited to get our passports stamped. After the approval, we got back into the car and drove a few yards up where we repeated a similar process to get approved to enter South Africa. By the time we got through, we had less than 45 minutes to spend in Ficksburg because the shops closed at 5. We rushed to get the items on our list which included departing gifts, soda and of course, coffee. The only items we were unable to get were postcards, but that would have to wait another day since we did not have much time. One of us (name to remain undisclosed) may or may not have indulged in some KFC before we headed home.

Getting back took us over twice as long. The queues to leave South Africa and enter Lesotho took us over two hours to get through. We inched up very slowly and unsteadily. The return trip was another adventure since the roads were unlit and bumpy, we heavily relied on the headlights to guide the way. After driving past three villages and two dispersed markets, we arrived home exhausted but happy.

Lavender skies in South Africa. Lavender skies in South Africa.

Ending with some pictures from the other day to also share:

A beautiful white horse grazing in green mountains.  A pretty white horse grazing in green mountains.

Pretty spotted cow grazing. Pretty spotted cow grazing.



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