Botswana to Namibia: Was I Cursed Today?

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    Heading out on the highway!
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    This is Andy's rondavel. He said that ants have eaten the roof and it has caved in on him.
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    Andy, making a fire to heat water to 'shower' to start his day. I like his wind-break.
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    The sunrise from Andy's house.
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    My friend Andy.
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    Driving from the village to the highway.
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    A neighbour of Andy's who came to visit in the morning. Her little girl was terrified of me, and hid her eyes behind her hands. If she could not see me, I was not there!
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    Ferries to take you across the Okavango River.
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    Goats who had been laying down and resting on the road.
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    The road from the border in Namibia.
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    Look at that fence! It is the biggest non-prison fence I have ever laid my eyes on.
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    A neighbour of Andy's who came to visit in the morning. Her little girl was terrified of me, and hid her eyes behind her hands. If she could not see me, I was not there!

April 5
I am starting to have weird flashes of headaches and earaches.  These are things I never have in my life, ever.  Sometimes I have a weird nerve-jolt of pain go through my eyes for a nano-second.  I am wondering if this is a side effect of being on malaria medication for nearly four months straight?  I can not wait to get away from putting this medication garbage into me…

I am stiff to move lately.
I am going to attribute that to the amount of buses I have sat through in the past couple of weeks, and the terrible food I have been using for fuel that is probably barely better than not eating at all.  I am going to have to slow down soon and take a little bit of care of myself.  I need some Meevenings!

Andy, making a fire to heat water to 'shower' to start his day. I like his wind-break.

Andy, making a fire to heat water to ‘shower’ to start his day. I like his wind-break.

I heard Andy moving just after 06:00, so I got up and got ready.  I slept well last night.  Hippos groaning and growling not far from the house were the last sounds I heard before I fell asleep.

A neighbour of Andy's who came to visit in the morning. Her little girl was terrified of me, and hid her eyes behind her hands. If she could not see me, I was not there!

A neighbour of Andy’s who came to visit in the morning. Her little girl was terrified of me, and hid her eyes behind her hands. If she could not see me, I was not there!

Andy drove me to the border.  When I got out of his car, I handed him 140 pula ($12.40) that I had in cash and all of the coins that I could find in my pocket.  I thanked him for giving me a home last night.  He is a good man.  He wished me a safe journey and I headed for the border immigration.  ‘STAMP’ exit Botswana.  Walk 150 meters.  ‘STAMP’ enter Namibia.

I asked the Namibia immigration man if there was a bus that came to the border.  He said that one might, but that I should just wait for a ride from someone coming though.  The first village was 33 kilometers away and he told me the next real town was 200 kilometers past that.  He said, “Cars are scarce, but you can not walk from here as this is a game reserve and there are animals that will eat you.”  ‘Noted.  I shall just sit here then.’

There was an older man with a cane outside of the building, waiting for a ride as well.  I smiled at him, but we did not share a common language to communicate and become friends.  A car came along but they were heading into the park.  About 30 minutes later a semi came along.  The old man asked the driver about a ride…at least I assumed that was what he was asking (the no common language thing again).

I later asked the semi-driver about a ride myself.

I was at the end of the line, so I told him I was going as far as he was going.
Twenty minutes later the semi-drive approached me and asked me how far I was going.  I was at the end of the line, so I told him I was going as far as he was going.  He told me to come along and started walking away.  I stopped him and said, “Well, actually, the older man was here before me.  He has the right to the ride first.”  The semi driver told me that there was only one free seat.  He said it loudly to the old man as well after he said it to me, though it was in my language.  The trucker started walking to the semi and told me to come along.  I realized he was not going to take the old man.  I felt really bad, but I could see that he wanted to take me with him.  I felt so guilty that I had climbed ahead of the old man in rank simply because of you youth and most likely because of my skin tone.  I was so ashamed of what had happened that I could not even make eye contact with the old man to shrug my shoulders apologetically at him.  I just stared at the ground as I collected my backpack and followed the man to his semi-truck.  Life is unfair, and it brings horrible guilt when you are the one in an advantage situation.  I think I would have felt far less guilty had the older man been someone of my own age.

As soon as we started on the road, the highway from the border turned into gravel on the Namibia side.  And it was a rough road.  My driver was hauling furniture in the two trailers behind our truck.  Namibia also felt immediately dirtier with garbage in the ditches, something I had not really noticed in Botswana.

The road from the border in Namibia.

The road from the border in Namibia.

William, my truck driver friend from Swaziland, told me that the immigration people working at the Namibia border are uneducated.  He told me that they are just bush people who were offered government jobs.  Then William asked me if London is in the United States…

I was tired and I fell asleep for about 30 minutes on the drive.  William had to stop to get out of the truck because he was getting tired as well.  When he got back in I offered him some of my Czech Republic sniffing snuff.  I told him it would wake him up.  He was keen to try, so I had some first to show him how to consume it.  The rush went right to his William’s brain.  His eyes were wide open when he asked me how long it would last for.  He pointed at the container I had it in and said, “You must leave this one for me!”  I had created a monster!  I told him I could not give it to him, but I gave him some of the sniffing tobacco I got when I was in Tanzania.  He put it in a small container.  He seemed very happy to have met me.

A casual giraffe on the side of the highway in Namibia.

A casual giraffe on the side of the highway in Namibia.

I got out of William’s truck at Rundu and caught a ride immediately in a truck with Andreas who hauled me to Grootfontein.  From there I hitched a ride to a town called Tsumeb where I got a SIM card and went to look for a room for the night.  That is when the wheels came off for me.

Look at that fence! It is the biggest non-prison fence I have ever laid my eyes on.

Look at that fence! It is the biggest non-prison fence I have ever laid my eyes on.

I walked a couple of kilometers to a backpackers hostel.  Full.  She sent me to a guesthouse about 500 meters away.  Full.  They sent me to another place.  Full.  They sent me to another place.  Full.  They tried to give me a phone number to call but my phone was dead, so I walked to where they send me.  Full.  Oh oh…

I decided that Tsumeb was giving me a bad hand and it was not a good town for me to stay in.  I headed for the taxi area so that I could get in a group taxi to take me the 65 kilometers back to Grootfontein.  In the meantime I went to eat the food from the shopping bag of groceries I had.  The buns were dry, the chocolate chip cookie was hard and when I went to take a big drink of the strawberry/banana juice container I had bought, the bitter force of grapefruit juice that I detest assaulted my tongue.  Ahh.  Such a rough go in such a short period.

Perhaps the older man at the Botswana/Namibia border sent out bad energy that had finally found me…  Was I cursed today?  My good-luck/safety potion necklace even broke this morning…

She told me that my best option would me to go to sleep at the police station so that I would be safe for the night as it would not be safe for me on the streets at night.
A group taxi drove me to Grootfontein and I walked to a guesthouse I noticed sign for.  The girl behind the desk said they were full.  I told her of my past couple of hours.  She took pity on me and began making phone calls to guesthouses.  I could tell by how short the calls were that the places she was calling were full.  Full.  Full.  I asked her what was happening in the area.  She did not understand why everything was so booked up.  I asked her if she had a couch that I could rent.  She told me that my best option would me to go to sleep at the police station so that I would be safe for the night as it would not be safe for me on the streets at night.  Her manager got on the phone, and be danged if he did not find a place for me.  (I had been mentally ready to try to rent the back seat of a car off of someone at that point.)  He reserved it under my name and a patron leaving the guesthouse drove me to the Meteor Inn.

The man at the Meteor Inn desk told me it was the last room in the hotel, and it was air conditioned so it was going to cost me 430 Namibia rand ($28.30).  Fine.  What else was I going to do?  Then the man behind the counter told me how thirsty he was and asked me to buy him a beer.  I had just spent three times what I normally maximize myself on a room, and it had taken me three hours of hell with all of the walking, travelling between full town and pleading to find a place to stay.  I informed him that I was not having a very good day and told him to not make it any worse for me.  I walked to my room and went to bed to put this day behind me.

 

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2 Responses

  1. Jacqui says:

    Great read – thanks. I came across your site in trying to hunt down transport from Maun to Namibia. You made me laugh out loud a couple of times. I’m not sure if it’s not laughter hiding my fear about my trip ending up like yours did ;o) Either way as I said I enjoyed your writing style, thanks for keeping it real!
    I’m also blogging my trip round southern africa, I’ve only been to Mozambique so far but if you’re heading that way my site might have some helpful tips for you. Keep enjoying!

    • harrishog1 says:

      Thanks Jacqui,
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to write back. I hope that you are having a great trip around southern Africa. I have been back in Europe for about two months, to sort of push the reset button. I missed Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar, but I will tackle them at some point in the near future.
      Ahhh, Africa. There is just nothing else like it…!
      Enjoy Jacqui, and I am going to check out your blog. Good for you for writing about your journey! Enjoy, and be awesome!
      Beaver.

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