Friday, March 12, 2010


We had heard about Bloemfontein (referred to as ‘Bloem’ by almost everyone here), beginning well before we arrived. It was portrayed as a Mecca for expats. Need something you cannot find in Maseru? Got to Bloem. Just got an urge to shop? Go to Bloem. Need to see a movie or eat out? Go to Bloem? Need to get away (and “Oh, you will” we are told)? Go to Bloem. (The Waterfront Mall in Bloem is featured above.)

So we went to Bloem. The drive was beautiful, as all drives in southern Africa seem to be. I had not really known how rural so much of South Africa is. Lots of farming, and quite a bit of cattle ranching, going on. Afrikaners, who are quite numerous in the Free State, the province of South Africa next to Maseru and in which Bloemfontein is found, are – apparently - farmers.

There were long fences between the highway and the villages for much of the trip:

Did I mention the cows?

You can see forever here sometimes, and it is quite literally breathtaking:

Then we arrived:

And Bloem itself, well… Kathy and I were not so impressed. It felt very much like anywhere U.S.A. Especially the mall, which is where most of Maseru’s expats go when they journey to Bloem. Lots of white folks, which seems very strange here. And a food court. And a movie theater where we saw Avatar. (Don’t bother.) And stores. All in all, a standard mall. Unless we have to, I do not think we are going back to Bloem. It’s nice enough, in its way, but why move to Africa and then go to the mall?

Except, of course, that it provides us with an opportunity to return to our new home town, Maseru, which looks like this:

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