Of all the borders crossed, Kazungula was the most exciting because we had to take the ferry even though it is only for a short distance across the Zambezi River. The Chobe River that divides Namibia and Botswana joins the Zambezi not far from this border between Botswana and Zambia. This is where my father works as an engineer, overseeing the construction of the bridge that will make the ferry redundant.
Prior to moving to Botswana from the Philippines, I was not familiar with border or border post as a place. Even when I crossed the line on the bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe the first time I visited Victoria Falls (Livingstone, Zambia side), I probably didn’t even realize that there was a border to cross. I couldn’t really cross because I carried a Philippine passport then and I would have needed a visa to go to Zimbabwe.
Back then, our Philippine passport had a certain limitation or restriction – we could not travel to South Africa and/or Lebanon. This was lifted later on and on my passport, it can be seen that it was done in 1993.
The first time I crossed a border was in 1993 when the family decided to spend Christmas in Sun City. We lived in Gaborone at that time. Sun City was not in South Africa then as Bophuthatswana was still a self-governing state. This was dissolved the following year, the same year South Africa gained democracy.
This border crossing may have been physical and functional but it somehow, unbeknownst to me though, marked a change in the trajectory of my life. I was standing on the border, emotionally. It is, however, a different story and warrants its own space.
Since then, I cannot count the number of times I crossed the borders between the two countries. Although I mostly used the Tlokweng/Kopfontein border posts, I had crossed other borders between South Africa and Botswana including the one posted here recently on our way to the northern part of Botswana.
When I left Botswana to live in South Africa, I crossed the border countless times to visit my family. There were times when the queue would be so long that it would take anything between an hour to 4 hours to have passports stamped. This was (and still is) the case especially on holidays and long weekends.
During my separation and after my divorce (from my first husband), I traveled to Botswana a lot more than before. It helped me put Humpty-me back together again. The hours spent queuing, in the heat or the cold, did not matter. I did not care either that at times, I would leave Johannesburg on a Saturday morning and I would be back the next day, early evening. Fortunately, the drive between Gaborone and Johannesburg is an easy 350km.
I traveled less to Gaborone from around 2001. I suppose I had recovered from my failed marriage and I was concentrating on my career and a new social life. For the following ten years or so, my fondness for border crossing must have faded.
I hope to cross the borders to Zimbabwe and Namibia soon and if I won’t be doing so directly from South Africa, I will do so via Kasane, Botswana.