Thursday, 20 February 2014

A Southern African Safari (a travel memoir) #3

Good Morning!

If you haven't been here before, welcome!  I will be posting about my exciting adventure around Southern Africa in 2011.  Read Part 1 and Part 2 first. ;-)

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A Southern African Safari 
Travel Memoir
 South Africa - Botswana - Zambia - Zimbabwe - Botswana – South Africa
17 December 2011 - 24 December 2011

3. Ready Steady Go

Bright and early at 5am and we are ready to go, this is summer in South Africa. Your eyes open with the sun rising and cheerful energy overwhelms as the birds chirp and the trees rustle. I gesture good-byes to my oblivious cats, take one final breath in my home and finally, leap into the 4x4. And so it begins. Day 1’s road trip was pleasant. We chatted and chatted and snacked on the road, updating each other, observing the changing landscape of trees, savannah, mountains, trees, singing along with CDs and telling jokes.

Grobler’s Bridge border, 370km from Pretoria, appears in the distance beyond the 30 cars in front of the gate. We stop, chat to other travelers, stretch our legs and exchange guessing games of how much longer we wait. The pause before the gate was surrounded by rural farmland, informal villages and its people. The village people shamelessly sweat and walk, loosely clothed, barefoot and excited about seeing the city people. Children wave as the heat waves. I am sweating too, but self-consciously as
other bodily functions take control and I need to use the bathroom.

Remarkably, the sky was filled with white butterflies, in new metamorphosis, fluttering to their deaths on the windshields of moving vehicles and reduced to grimy splatter, no CSI mystery here, just butterfly suicides, a hopeless and amusing tragedy. Arshad and Zarina decide to do some insider investigation and discover how to finish quicker by filling out forms and waiting in the immigration queue while Suhale and I wait at the car.

2.5 hours sounds long and felt long, but is really not long. Once we parked beyond the gate, we found Arshad and Zarina at the SARS and immigration line. This was a narrow queue in a narrow building, barred uncomfortably with only one official staff member offering service through narrow wall openings during the peak December holiday period.

Although not so much a shock than a realisation, the fact that Government buildings and official waiting areas are designed as uncomfortable sardine-can-packed single file areas in exposed African sunlight with crying children and nowhere to sit is telling. We spent 2.5 hours waiting, with no seating, garden or shade, but at least there was a toilet and police everywhere.

This is how we left our country.

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Are you ready for Wild Africa to take over? ;-)

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