Worrywart

DSC00833southindustrial.JPG

This blog entry about the events of Thursday, April 08, 2004 was originally posted on April 15, 2004.

DAY 173:  In order to make up time for the week I “lost” in Cape Town sorting out my post-mugging red tape, I needed to minimize veg-out days in other cities if I was still to make it to Spain for the San Fermin Festival in early July.  This meant that rather than hang around Windhoek for three more days — possibly with people I met at the Namibian Breweries — and leave on a bus the Monday after Easter, I’d have to leave straight away on the only available northeast bound bus, one that afternoon at 5 p.m.  When I woke up that morning around 6 a.m., I didn’t have a ticket yet, and I got a little worried because it was up in the air if I would make it.

Booking a ticket to Victoria Falls seemed easy enough; Chameleon Backpackers could do it for you with a couple of phone calls — except when it’s Good Friday and their middle-man tour agency was closed.  I had to get an Intercape ticket myself, which would have been an easy enough task if only they had an office downtown.  No, the Intercape office was located in a shady industrial area, the kind with barbed wire and warehouses.

I try not to blame the Chameleon morning staff from being somewhat useless; none of them could tell me exactly where the Intercape office was, only the general location on the map in the South Industrial neighborhood.  Windhoek wasn’t a big taxi town and so I went there on foot, through the residential area to South Industrial (picture above) in a kind of place where bad guys always seemed to hide out in the movies.  I was on guard.  Hardly anyone was around, which made me more edgy.  Any person that did show up, although probably completely innocent, just became a sketchy bad guy in my mind.

Walking the set of Bad Guy Land went on longer than expected.  With Chameleon’s vague directions and the vague directions of gas station attendants, I still couldn’t find Intercape.  I ended up going in circles.  Time was running out too because I was racing the clock for checkout time at 10 a.m. — I hadn’t packed yet.

Another guy at another Engen gas station gave me better vague directions and I managed to find the Intercape hull.  Luckily for me there was a space available on the bus for Victoria Falls and I paid for it in cash.  I had a good forty minutes before checkout time and while I was in South Industrial, I went looking for Coastal Couriers, the overnight shipping company that I was told would have my sandboarding video CD — but only between 8 and 10 in the morning.

With directions from an Intercape employee, I managed to find the place, a 20-minute walk away through the warehouse district.  The guy there told me the truck hadn’t arrived yet and to come back in an hour, but no later since it was Good Friday.  In fact, if it wasn’t a public holiday, I wouldn’t have to collect the package myself.

I walked the twenty minutes back to Chameleon Backpackers in time to pack up my things before checkout time.  I kept my bags in the common room and waited for the sole internet connection to be freed.  I may have had an Intercape ticket, but I needed a visa into Zambia.  You can either go to the embassy and get it (no time left), or be invited by a Zambian company.  With 24-hour advance notice, one can e-mail the Jolly Boys Backpackers in Livingstone, Zambia and they, a Zambian company, can invite you in as their guest.

Simple enough if you’d just get off the internet, buddy!

“I just need to read my e-mail really quick.”

“Okay.”

I waited and waited until the internet lost connection and just I went back to Coastal Couriers to get my video CD before they closed for the day.  When I got back from South Industrial, the computer hadn’t been freed yet and my 24-hour advance window was closing fast.  I worried I might not get my visa in time, but luckily the German couple that piggybacked turns on the machine finished within the hour of my noonish deadline.

Jackie, the manager of Chameleon, told me that I simply had to e-mail Jolly Boys to the address on their flyer on the wall with all my passport information and itinerary.  Although Jackie told me “just tell them you’ll be on the Intercape bus and they’ll know [which border you’re crossing],” I e-mailed them specifics from my ticket just in case.  Later I discovered that was probably not a good idea; the details I gave them told them I’d arrive at the Zimbabwean/Zambian border — not the direct Botswanan/Zambian one — which would cost me an additional $30 for entry into Zimbabwe, and only in U.S. or South African cash currency.  I had access to neither in the time I had allotted and all my U.S. cash was lost after the incident in Cape Town.  I cursed out “Blog” for occupying all my time before my bus departed; if my day was Blog-free, I might have found out earlier and had time to do something about it.

Luckily for me, I was traveling with Juliana, an American from Washington state who, like Hunter, had just finished her two-year term in the Peace Corps.  She was headed back to Zambia and knew that the usual thing was to get off at Kasane, Botswana, cross into Zambia from there, and complete the journey to Victoria Falls on the Zambian side to avoid Zimbabwe altogether. 


AVOIDING ZIMBABWE WAS RECOMMENDED TO ME FROM OTHERS — especially since I had some sort of credibility as a writer — since dictatorial President Robert Mugabe shunned foreign press reporting news from in his country.  Blogreader Ria told me they might confiscate my laptop, and a British photojournalist I met in Windhoek was concerned and tried to avoid Zimbabwe as well on her way to Victoria Falls. 

The way to Victoria Falls without entering Zimbabwe utilizes a geographic loophole; Botswana actually shares a tiny border with Zambia.  At only 750 meters wide, it is the world’s smallest international border — wide enough to get a ferry across the river directly without having to set foot in Zimbabwe and pay its steep $30 USD fee ($65 if you are British).  My only hope at the time was that perhaps Jolly Boys’ request for a guest visa appeared at both crossings, or if only one, the Botswanan/Zambian one.  I tried not to worry, but it was hard not to.  What if Jolly Boys sent my visa/invitation at the wrong border?  Could I warn them?  It seemed that every pay phone on the way was either busy or didn’t work with my phone card. 

Juliana said I’d be fine.  In her two years of living in Africa, she told me that she learned that, “In Africa, everything just seems to work out in the end.”  I recalled in my mind something Carol said in Swakopmund when I was worried I might miss out on sandboarding:  “In Namibia, there’s a saying: ‘Don’t worry until you have to.’”

I calmed myself down; the worst case scenario if I went to the Botswanan/Zambian border and my visa wasn’t there was that I could buy it on the spot — but if only I found a way to get a hold of American or South African currency on the way, or contacted them via phone to tell them where I was coming from.  There was nothing I could do about it riding the bus in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, so I just tried to stop worrying for a while — that is, until I realized my NY Yankees baseball cap was missing. 

Oh my God!  Where is that thing?  I searched my bag, each compartment three times, my plastic bag, inside the sleeves of my sweater.  Nothing, nothing, nothing.  Oh man, that was one of the things I really wanted to complete my global trip with!  My personal modern day version of Indiana Jones’ trademark fedora!  The cap that I bought on that one great day in 1999 when wheat and I played hooky from work to see the Yankees’ World Series champion ticker-tape parade in downtown Manhattan!  The hat that had been with me to Africa, South America and Antarctica even before The Global Trip 2004 began!  That hat!  The baseball cap with the beat-up look and the blood stain on it from when it cushioned the blow when I got slammed in the head by a falling sign in Brazil!  My hat, my precious goddam New York Yankees vintage baseball cap!

I was sitting on it the whole time.






Next entry: Hakuna Matata

Previous entry: Fast Forward Through The Sand




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Comments for “Worrywart”

  • Tee Hee… sitting on it the whole time.  Does this make me first… don’t want to Re…fresh…. must… hit… post… now… first?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/14  at  10:42 PM


  • sitting on it the whole time…and you weren’t even drunk…..hahahah

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/15  at  02:55 PM


  • heh, well, you did say that you felt like “your head was up your ass” in the previous blog. so you should have checked there first for your cap. =P

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/16  at  01:48 AM


  • A world famous quote comes to mind:

    “Doh!” - Homer J. Simpson

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/16  at  04:49 AM


  • Well, it’s always in the last place you look.  At least it wasn’t ON your head.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/20  at  11:21 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Hakuna Matata

Previous entry:
Fast Forward Through The Sand




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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