A Magic Bus Ride

Trip Start Jan 10, 2006
Trip End Jun 02, 2006

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Flag of Zimbabwe  ,
Thursday, February 9, 2006

Zimbabwe is very good. For this entry, I just want to tell you about my bus ride here from Johannesburg.

After running some wild errands with Crosby, we made it to the bus terminal with seconds to spare before my reservation expired. I got my ticket and bid Crosby a joyous farewell.

One hour after we were supposed to leave, the bags were loaded and we all shoved our way on. Luckily no one was trampled, which is silly, because we all had reserved seats. The bus was nice, better than most greyhounds at home. I soon realized I'd be the only whitey and one of only about 5 men on the bus. I was packing very light compared to everyone else. They were all trying to get goods to family in Zimbabwe, where times are tougher due to the devaluing of the Zimbabwean dollar. Every seat was full and some were stacked with bags, and there were bags in the isle, under the bus, above our heads, under our feat and in our laps.

I had a window next to a big, fat mama. I never got her name, but we shared well, with her on top of my left side much of the time.

As soon as we got rolling, one of the bus guys turned on the DVD player... and loud, so loud that the sound was distorted and I had to make paper ear plugs. No one else said anything, so I didn't either. The movie was some terribly corny music videos, and then some bad movies. Someone was on my side, though, because none of the movies got very far before the DVD started skipping and then froze. The guy went through all the DVD's (at least 4 of them) in about an hour. Then we started playing audio CD's which were much better - some highlife and mbira, and I even got them to roll with some Midnite for about an hour. Then they responded with some nice Garnett Silk.

As we got close to the border, I prepared to cross. I was told to hide my USD in my boot, or customs would steal it. I taped it to the bottom of my foot, just in case they made me take my boots off. I think I freaked out the mama next to me, because she seemed to be praying the whole time I had the medical tape out.

So, we got to the border and the whole bus was unloaded except for very few bags. I thought it would take hours. Everyone declared everything and got heavily taxed. I felt really bad for all these mamas getting taxed for bringing rice and cooking oil to their families. One lady was a few dollars short of her duty, so I helped her out. She would help me later. After pulling all the bags off and lining them up, the officials unzipped a few, and then zipped them back up. They didn't check shit! I told a few that it's much easier and cheaper if you don't declare things.

I declared only my camera, which, because its old, didn't count. I just left my bag on the bus and hid in the crowd. The officials barely looked at what was on the bus and I never had to speak to anyone, except the guy that stamped my passport, who happened to be named Christopher and born in 1980. Almost too easy. It did cost me $30 or 210 rand for the visa. I had to pay in rand since all my USD was taped to the bottom of my foot.

After the border, I fell asleep and woke to see the sun rise in deep pink.

We arrived in Harare 4 hours early dispite leaving an hour late. I went to the bank with the lady I helped at the border, where she paid me 1 million Zimbabwean dollars for the 50 rand I gave her, plus she let me use her phone to call Kufunda to tell them I was early. She even waited with me for my ride to come, which only took about 10 minutes. Thanks to her, I have Zim dollars to pay for internet time and write this entry to you.
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