Ten - Borders, Lines, Waiting, Waiting, Waiting
With a moderate 7:00am wakeup, we were soon packed on our way south
to South Africa. With border crossing, a stop for lunch, and an hour
shopping break for supplies, our target arrival at camp was set for
3:00pm. That goal would soon be smashed into tiny pieces and thrown
out the truck widow, as a series of obstacles would present themselves.
The first would be a police stop for a broken headlight. They asked
for a fee of $100 to get back on the road, which is about ten times
the official fine. Zimbabwe is a beautiful country and full of wonderful
people, but it is also very corrupt and visitors and residents alike are prone
for these type of hassles, I'm told.
The next roadblock, literally, would be a three-mile-long line of cars,
not moving an inch, waiting to exit Zimbabwe. The driver approached
some officials and was told to be prepared for a several hour wait.
But after about 45 minutes, we were waved ahead to the front of the
line and allowed to exit the truck. Another hour-long wait in a long
line for immigration and we soon into South Africa.
At this point I expected the pace to hasten dramatically. I could not
have been more wrong. The queue for the South African immigration office
was as far as we could see. We tried to negotiate a express passage
that is often granted for tourists, but were shot down and sent way
back to the end of the line. It was least an hour out in the sun, waiting
to get into immigration, and from there, it only got worse. There were
so many people jammed into the courtyard of the building and we very
slowing snaked our way back and forth, inching toward the counters for
another hour or so. We were fortunate at this point to have a South
African on the trip who was a very experienced traveler and he somehow
arranged for us to have our own group queue at the counter and that
shaved off a significant amount of time being processed.
Nearly clear to get back on the road, it was discovered by border control
that one of our group did not have a Yellow Fever vaccination document.
They told her she would be deported back to Zimbabwe until she could
arrange a vaccination and be allowed to re-apply for admission. A lot
of pleading, different conversations, waiting, and I suspect perhaps
an exchange of cash later, and they agreed that she could enter as long
as she was vaccinated within 6 days, which was more than enough since
she would be leaving at the end of the week anyway.
Finally back on the road, we later stopped for a meal a little shopping.
While the guide shopped for supplies, a couple of guys from Ireland
and one from Australia and I shared some scotch, which was perfect after
all that we had been through. We reached our campsite about 8:15pm,
5 hours later than expected and much too late for any planned activities.
Instead, I grabbed a few beers and called it a night.