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Day 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.


Day Eleven

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