I completed the final leg of my bus adventure from Kenya to South Africa! It’s been a wild ride, filled with memorable experiences and unforgettable people. It’s been long at times and less than comfortable, but I’m glad I did it and will remember this trip for the rest of my life.
The bus from Lusaka to Johannesburg takes a cool 24 hours. Add to that the 7-hour ride back from Livingstone and waiting time in-between, and my final stint took about 35 hours. Fortunately for me but unfortunately for this blog post, the trip was rather uneventful. As always, however, interesting things happened at border crossings. When I arrived at the Zimbabwe border, we waited in a stuffy, crowded building for almost an hour to stamp our passports. When I got to the front, I only had a $100 bill to pay the $30 transit visa fee. The agent took my money, quickly stuffed it into his shirt pocket, and declared that he didn’t have any change for me. I should have seen that one coming. When I persisted in asking for my change back, he said I should go see the lady at the cashier’s office. Of course she didn’t have change either, and I apparently insulted her deeply by asking if she really didn’t have any change at all, so I came back and asked the guy again for my change please. He said I should come back the next day, or better yet, on Tuesday and they would have the money. I told him that was stupid and he started to get really pissed. He handed me the dirtiest $50 bill I have ever seen, and said that after visiting another counter to receive my transit visa, I should come back and beg him for the remaining $20. So I went to the other counter and got my visa, asked the nice gentleman there for the $20 they owed me and got my money without a problem. I waved the money at the jerk’s window and bolted out of that office into Zimbabwe as fast as my legs would carry me.
After a long drive through Zimbabwe, we arrived at the South African border crossing. This one looked more like crossing from Mexico to the US, complete with barbed wire fencing, trenches, searchlights and police vehicles. This one also took a long time, but the staff were incredibly friendly. They only asked me how long I wanted to stay in SA, before stamping my passport and letting me through. I was expecting a full-fledged arsenal of questions so this was a pleasant surprise. Borders and all I finally arrived in Johannesburg and met up with my South African friend’s family. It’s great to finally be here and know that I’ll be flying (thank God) to Cape Town tomorrow to meet up with my family for our gallivanting around the country.