The World Around Us

Border run to Nelspruit

Country: South Africa by Lisette


Crossing the border, it must be done on foot!

Together with Ingrid, a fellow Cuso International volunteer we went to South Africa for a day. It was a so-called border run due to a stipulation in our visas. The office briefed us since we had never been in Nelspruit and the journey started well with an arranged tour bus. Luxurious!

Once at the border there was a bit of waiting because it is a busy spot with tourists, locals and truck drivers. But all-in-all it went smooth and easy. Going towards Nelspruit we were almost taken aback with the richness of the country: lush green orchards with oranges, well maintained roads, modern shopping centres and so forth.

In Nelspruit we were welcomed with hot and dry weather. The three of us decided to visit the embassy immediately to get a new visa. Here, the interesting visa saga started! After some patience, misunderstandings, texts with the VSO office we knew what to apply for. Couple of hours later, we were set to go back to Mozambique.

There is no bus returning the same day, so we started to walk in the general direction towards the hotels that were mentioned to us. Alas, it took us a while to find one (with the help of a friendly, young South African). Walking in the sun parched our throats quickly and I got a migraine on top of that. So for me, the day ended early.

Next day we went in search of a beautiful botanical garden. We never found it, when we were getting closer we realized it was time to return to town and catch the bus to get back to Mozambique (there are two buses that leave at practically the same time). This time we had to wait a lot longer at the border and we came home after a 3-hour delay.

What stayed much longer with me was the underlying tension of aggression in South Africa. I am in no position to make any informed judgment, but I got a nagging, uncomfortable feeling. It was clear that apartheid ended officially many years ago, yet in reality we thought it was probably much the same as before. It was the mentality and the attitudes that I found disturbing.


Nelspruit is in a beautiful fertile valley of the Crocodile River, South Africa.