(pronounced, in this case 'Blum, blum, blum, blum blum'. Quickly and in descending tones)
26.11.2009 - 26.11.2009
Even that very morning, hostel staff were trying to dissuade us. 'Why are you going there?!', they cried. They even offered to phone our car rental agency and arrange for us to drop Ruth somewhere else, such as Johannesburg, and we had to physically leave to prevent it. The object of their scorn? Bloemfontein.
When the disparate states were being moulded into the country of South Africa back in 1910, as a way of keeping the states a bit happier and not concentrating power in one place, they decided upon a 3capital system. Thus, even though it is not necessarily logical, and is expensive in terms of people moving around and requiring accommodation in several places, even today South Africa has 3 capitals: Pretoria is the official capital, and home to most of the diplomats and embassies, etc; Cape Town is the legislative capital, where the government meets, and Bloemfontein is the judicial capital, where the laws are made and courts sit.
There is, pretty much everybody agrees, not much to see or do there and no real reason to visit as a tourist: hence the comments from the hostel staff that morning. In our case, it was simply somewhere reasonably easy to get to after the wedding, between Pretoria/Jo'burg (where Maaret had to go) and Cape Town, where I was going. It basically out of fairness to prevent one us having a long/expensive journey/drive alone, whilst the other person had little or no trip. And for all its lack of pretty much anything, Bloemfontein is a city large enough to have a useful car rental office for us to leave Ruth, and central to South Africa's road network meaning lots of bus connections.
In the end we didn't see much of Bloemfontein at all, and nothing that we did see was really exciting. We took a back route there, pretty much following the Lesothan border through the countryside, and arrived just in time to leave the car before the office shut. Thus having dropped Ruth, we sorted our bus tickets, left our bags at their office and then went to a shopping centre to wander a bit and then eat. Exciting, huh?
With that it was back to wait for our buses – both due after 11pm, and both over an hour late. Bloemfontein's central location mean buses from most of the South coast cities, plus and Cape Town all pass through enroute to/from Gauteng, and many do it late at night. It is one of the few bus stations I have been where the busiest time is 22-4am. Eventually, of course, both buses appeared and that was that.
Thus, for the second time this year, Maaret disappeared to catch a plane back to Europe whilst abandoning me to the care of an African hospital. I really should see a trend by now.