One of Dwight’s grandpa’s, whom we were very fond of, used to like to tell us about his life experiences. If the event was particularly charged with emotion, and if he had a point he wanted to get across as well, he’d wrap it up with, “Oh, I can tell you a thing or two…”
As we came through the South Africa/Mozambique border posts this week with Bero, we found ourselves talking about some of our past experiences as well.
Entering Lebombo border post, South Africa
We first came through these border posts between Mozambique and South Africa in 1993 with my parents. We were coming on a “look-see” type visit to decide if we felt this was where we should be and, if so, to decide if we thought we could actually manage to live here (in Maputo, initially). The war had only just ended and things were rather in shambles.
Due to fighting and the constant threat of ambushes, the main highway connecting the two countries was a deserted, ruined strip of tarmac through no-man’s land, and the border post was all but abandoned. We were one of a small handful of cars to actually travel that road back then. At the border, a tired soldier begged for a cigarette and something to drink before he lifted the boom to let us out.
Today, that same highway is a beautiful toll road.
And the border posts have been ramped up to accommodate the increasingly heavy flow of traffic passing through both day and night.
Yes, we had a thing or two to say about the changes we’ve seen right there in particular.
Turns out we’re not the only ones reflecting on the way things were back then. Our son recently decided to write some of his memories of that era as well. He wanted to locate the one old house we lived in using Google Earth, but was having a hard time identifying it. So we figured that since we were going right past the old place, why not take a little detour in to find it and take some photos for him. The turn-off from the main highway near Maputo was a no-brainer
But after that, no matter how hard we tried, we just couldn’t find it. I thought it was to the left. Dwight thought it was to the right. And so we went left and we went right and we went up and down through nearly the entire town. But nothing. Finally we gave up and left because we still had a very long trip ahead.
It takes roughly 18 hours to get from Nelspruit to Chimoio, and because most of that drive is on less than ideal roads, it is a very long and wearisome trip. Roads that are smooth, have narrow shoulders and heavy traffic (plus pedestrians, plus animals). Roads that are being repaired so they will be smoother are treacherous because there are no shoulders, and there is heavy traffic AND heavy duty work equipment. Passing each other can be quite the tight squeeze.
And then there are the single lane, dusty dirt detours. As we were driving along one such stretch, we noticed black smoke billowing in the sky ahead of us above the dust. "This can't be good..." we thought.
When the guys ahead of us started reversing, we and those behind us had no choice but to reverse as well. I think we backed up for a full kilometer before we found an escape route off the detour road.
That huge white truck had a real time of it :(
This was the reason why. It seemed no one was hurt so we didn't stop to ask any questions. Time was too short and our trip much too long for much other than a quick photo on the way past.
Thankfully the rest of the trip, though drawn out as it always is, was uneventful. We had to smile when, as we pulled in close to home, Bero (the young man in the back seat) piped up and said, "Phew, that was a long trip! Am I ever exhausted!"
Here he is, happy to be back home with family again.
But there was another surprise in store for us before we even reached our entry road. Someone by the side of the road was selling an orphaned baby Klipspringer. I keep saying I don't want to raise anymore orphaned wild animals...too much work. But my pleas fall on deaf ears. (Maybe because I'm not entirely convinced myself?)
And last but not least, on Friday some guests arrived from Grande Prairie, Canada. They'll be here for just over a week to visit the different projects, see some sights, and meet the wonderful people of Mozambique. And most probably they will have some experiences to share at a later date as well!