Tag Archives: hitchhiking
May 9, 2012

Lost in Botswana, part 3

This might not make much sense if you haven’t already read parts 1 and 2.  Well… part 2, at least.

It occurred to me at the time – I actually had the thought – that the situation we were in reminded me of one of those crazy African travel blog entries I’d read online.  Dropped off in the middle of nowhere, not really knowing where we were, where we were going, or how we were going to get there.  I had the sense that we were in the middle of a great story, but at the time all I wanted to know was how it was going to end.

A large man in a military uniform was the last person to step off the bus.  Because he stopped to purchase something from the roadside stand, he was soon the only other passenger still around.  As he passed by us on the way down the road, Oksana asked if he knew where the river was.

He gestured across the countryside, “I’m not sure,” he said. “But I think it’s three or four kilometers that way.”  His accent was thick, but perfectly understandable.

Both Oksana and I looked the way he indicated.  It looked no different than any other direction.

“Do you… um,” I began. “Do you know how we can get there?”

“I would wave at the first car you see,” he replied.  Oksana and I looked up and down the dirt road.  There were no cars.

August 29, 2011

Thoughts on Namibia

Our GPS track through the Caprivi Strip

Believe it or not, I don’t think we took even a single photo in Namibia. So, here’s our GPS track, instead!

Our time in Namibia amounted to just one day as we decided the best way to get from Botswana to Zambia was via the Caprivi Strip.  The Caprivi Strip is a strange stretch of land that doesn’t seem like it should belong to Nambia at all, but it has a very straight road through a wilderness preserve that leads right to where we were going.  Getting there was a day-long adventure, however.

Early in the morning, we were dropped off at a remote border outpost between Botswana and Namibia.  Getting our respective exit and entrance stamps turned out to be the easy part.  When we asked how to get to the next town in Namibia, a very friendly border agent said, “Oh, you’re just a little too late.  Why, a car went by just a half hour ago!”

No buses, no taxis.  Waiting for a car and asking if you can ride along is business as usual way out there.

It took another hour or so, with us sitting on the curb by our bags, but eventually some kid drove by in a 90s-model Honda SUV.  There were already four people in the car, but Oksana asked if we could ride along.  I volunteered to climb in the back with the bags.

Once we started driving, I saw two things that gave me second thoughts about our ride.  First, the driver was using the emergency hand brake to slow the car.  I stared with dread fascination whenever he attempted to pass slower vehicles around blind curves.  Nothing was scarier than watching him yank up the e-brake, in the face of oncoming traffic, to get us back in our lane.

Except, perhaps, realizing that both the driver- and passenger-side airbags had been previously deployed.