Life & Travels Afloat in our Moody
Readers will be aware by now of our somewhat nomadic lifestyle, whether sailing or not. Being involved in a project in South Africa has been an immensely interesting challenge, both in terms of the work and otherwise. Finding ourselves with another unplanned long weekend (Heritage Day on Tuesday, the world goes missing on Monday as well, surprise surprise!), Daniel invited me to go home with him for the weekend. Really kind of him. So we set off on Friday after work, later than ideal, only to join a 60km traffic queue to get out of Johannesburg/Pretoria. That was seriously tedious 😦
Anyway, getting to the Botswana border opened my eyes to another world. (Sorry, did I forget to mention Daniel’s home is in Windhoek, Namibia, a mere 1,400 km away?). Shades of Moroccan ports again). Europe is a light year away. First you have to visit South African Immigration (departures), then it is across to another hut for South African Customs (Departures) with the form filled in for the car. Drive across the ground to get waved through by the official, drive 100m and park up to deal with Botswana. Queue to get the form, and then complete Botswana Immigration, and queue again for Customs. Here it is another form plus payment for compulsory road ‘tax’ to cover angainst any public losses if you have an accident.
This whole process took over an hour, but fortunately we managed to get through it all with 15 mins to spare before the border posts closed for the night. the route across Botswana is very straight, flat, sparsely populated and there is very little traffic. The road is in surprisingly good condition, with only the odd (rather pointless) traffic island to provide variety. This all serves to potentially lull one into a false sense of security, for the dangers are there. It is the sudden unheralded prescence of animals that can turn a relaxed drive into instant calamity. Donkeys, cattle, horses, wild pigs, antelope and the like can appear in the headlights without warning, especially if partially hidden by the lights of oncoming traffic.
In the middle of the night, we came across the flashing lights of a police truck at the scene of an accident. A bakkie (pick-up truck, Toyota or similar) with a grp canopy over the back, with 7 or 8 passengers, had swerved to avoid an animal and rolled off the road. It was a wreck, with every panel crumpled and the canopy in pieces by the roadside, but astonishingly, no-one had been injured. Even the bakkie’s engine in true Top Gear Toyota style was still running! We gave the police a hand to move some bits of wreckage, and then headed on again.
Hours later, and in desparate need of coffee, we arive at the border with Namibia. Again, the same weary process is repeated, only spiced up by having a bus get there just before us. The Immigration office can only be described at utterly chaotic, with a free-for-all scrummage trying to get their forms processed. Attempts by the well-meaning Immigration Officer to herd the scrum into a line were met with good humour, but as soon as she retreated behind the counter, normal play resumed! Exhausted, we limped over to the Namibian Border post to queue again……..
That coffee was now the stuff of dreams. Stopping for fuel produced more farce. Drivers were pointed at a nearby ‘cafe’ to get cash out from an ATM as their card machine was not working, and the mildly warmer than cold liquid served there bore minimal resemblance to coffee. Never mind, only another 350km to go!
Rarely was reaching one’s destination so welcome, as was breakfast!