African shoestrings – South Africa Day Sixteen
The rest of our journey in Lesotho passed without incident as we passed the odd town, which appeared more western than those we had seen in the Malealea area, but still dusty and neglected and yet somehow thriving and functional!
As it was Sunday a lot of the locals tend to dress in their best clothes and we were treated to men in their shiny black suits and women in colourful dresses wondering along the road on their way to or from somewhere or other.
The Buthe border post was a lot quieter than Maseru Bridge however we still had get out of the car and go to the Lesotho passport control for a stamp, go back to the car, drive across the border, get out of the car, go to the South African passport office for another stamp and get asked a question or two and then finally get back in the car and drive past customs officials who normally just look at you suspiciously. Today however we were pulled over and our passport and car registration nos. duly noted by a rather stern and non-communicative official.
Now back in South Africa the difference is almost startling, no longer are there numerous villages clinging to the roadside. If there are any they are usually hidden away from the road. Where in Lesotho there are either signs of erosion or intensive tracts of crops, here the countryside is in the main, relatively unscarred.
The previous white apartheid regime seemed to always create two towns, the white dominated main town centre and its white suburbs and about 5 kilometres away the black dominated satellite. This is, of course, all changing but the evidence is still there as the population both black and white grapple with the changes necessary to evolve into a fair and equitable society. Nowhere is the difficulty more obvious than a place called Clarens, about 40 kilometres north of Buthe Buthe.
Clarens is trendsville! Curio shops and cafes jostle for your attention along the single short main street. You could have been anywhere in the western world. White South Africans from the bigger towns around strolled and stopped for lunch or a drink enjoying their day out. There was not a black face to be seen. For us after just ‘roughing’ the last week in Lesotho, it was timely if somewhat culturally disturbing. We had a nice lunch in “Bruce’s Pub” and then moved on.