• Joanna

Early Morning International

Updated: Mar 21

Up early this morning to do a hop, skip and a jump over to Zambia to fulfill my Kaza Visa requirements.

I figured it would be a quick “pop in to Zambia,” “snap a selfie,” & “back to Zimbabwe“ to finish up my hotel breakfast buffet...

It wasn’t.

I met Takako in the hotel dining room for departure at 7AM sharp. I had a flight a 1:25PM to Johannesburg, so didn’t want to mess around. Get me in the country and out of the country... pronto. She was going to spend the day in Livingstone, so I thought it was a good opportunity to accompany her to the border.

In hindsight, I should have just paid the additional $25 for Zimbabwe only considering the hassle, the stress and the taxi.

I was told the taxi would cost $1... the hotel that arranged the transportation said $6... and when the driver arrived, he wanted $10. I stood my ground and insisted on $6, which was still highway robbery considering the distance we intended to cover...  $6 quickly turned in to a nonsensical negotiation of $12 for return fare... and then increased to $15, because he agreed to wait for me while I breezed through customs. 10 minutes tops?


Stamp... stamp... stamp... selfie... stamp... back at the taxi...


That is exactly how I envisioned it.That is NOT really how it went...

When you exit a country in Africa, you have to have your passport scanned and stamped - which I can only assume is to ensure that you are not running from the law in your attempted departure.

There was that lineup. Then you have to show your passport again as you cross through the border gates. One of the men asked me why I was going to Zambia. 

I was dumbfounded. I could have come up with anything... a lovely day exploring Livingstone, the views of the falls from the other side of the canyon, bungee jumping...

Anything would have sufficed.

Nope. 

I looked right at him and said, “I’m just going to get a selfie and come back.”  

My honest declaration provoked a round of laughter and they opened the gate to let me through. I would have loved to have taken photos of the border patrol area, but we were all strongly advised against it during the tour.

I inquired as to how long a walk it was to the Zambia side and the answer was “less than a kilometre.”

Well... that was the longest “less than a kilometre” I have ever travelled. 


1.6km to be exact... one way.


A treacherous road in the blazing heat, over the canyon bridge... along side people pushing bicycles weighed down with packed bags much like one would envision hanging off a donkey... women carrying wrapped product on their heads... entrepreneurs attempting to sell their local crafts, pop, water, hard boiled eggs, etc... people trying to convince me to sign up for an activity or purchase old Zimbabwe money... baboons appearing out of nowhere, eyeing up my belongings... taxis trying to persuade me to jump in.... children sleeping on the side of the road... border patrol officers walking back & forth, with their rifles slung over their shoulders...  All the while, everyone is yelling out a variety of “Hello’s” and “Good Morning”and “Hey lady” and “Where you from?” 

It took perseverance and confidence to manoeuvre your way down the long road without being distracted. I tried to walk as fast as I could, keeping in mind that I had a taxi waiting for me on the Zimbabwe side.

Half way across the Victoria Falls bridge, one of the young boys brought it to our attention that we were crossing the line that divided Zimbabwe and Zambia. Above us was a sign that said ”You are now entering Zambia.”

Photo opportunity.... even better with the Falls in the background.

Gorgeous view, I might add. I strongly believe that this photo, that I asked Takako to take for me, sums her up to a tee. I took the first photo. Here it is. 

It shows her with one foot in each country and although the sun is shining a bit too brightly, you can still see the Zambia sign.

Had it not been so bright, so early...it would have been a great photo.

Then she took one of me. My turn for a photo.

Need I say more?

... there are no words...

Thanks, Takako.

A bad picture which looks like I’m losing my balance standing beside a pole... by a steel railing. No sign. No border. No dividing line visible...


Thanks again, Takako...


I made it to the Zambia border, got all of the appropriate stamps, said my final goodbyes to Takako and turned around to make the trek back to Zimbabwe. I tried to convince Takako to take a taxi the rest of the way in to Livingstone considering she was alone... very naive... and very afraid of the baboons.


She trekked on though... like a trooper.

Kaza Visa- complete.

My taxi was waiting for me when I got back and I felt obliged to up the fee from $12 to $15... he was nice enough to wait.

Honestly, I could have walked my fat, lazy ass back to the hotel... but he was there. I had visions of him thinking I had done a runner.

Headline...


Canadian tourist promises $6 to taxi... but runs off in to the Zambian horizon claiming selfie aspirations... never to return. Taxi left with nothing.


I was back at the hotel by 8:30AM and quite chuffed for being so independently international, so early in the morning.

Real rise & shine country hopper.

My airport shuttle was scheduled for 11AM and my flight was 1:25PM. Actually I have no idea what time my flight was. My itinerary said 1:25. The airport televisions said 1:25. My boarding pass said 1:05.

We left at 1:05.

I had arrived at the airport with Yu, who had a 2PM flight- and found Chloe and Ray having a drink in the lobby bar. Their flight had been scheduled for 11:30AM... and still had yet to arrive.

The flight was nothing exciting... perhaps a little unnerving turbulence but that is about it. Within an hour & a half, I was back in Johannesburg, South Africa.

We all disembarked the plane and had to board an airport shuttle to take us to the International arrivals port.

There are stressful moments when flying. I have mentioned them before.


Liquids in your carry on.

Where’s my passport?

Losing luggage.


OR...

Having the customs officer drill you about what happened to the visa they originally issued me...

I stood there... stunned.

What? 


What is she talking about?


The customers officer flipped through every page in my passport... twice... then three times. Each time getting more and more frustrated with me.


Where is the Visa we issued you?”


“What Visa?”


“The Visa you received when you entered the country?”


“I thought that as a Canadian, I didn’t require a Visa for South Africa. I just got a stamp?”


“In my system, it says that our government issued you a 7 month working visa.”


Nope. Don’t have that.

Nor do I need that.


It wasn’t as much hassle as I originally envisioned, but it still had to be cleared from the system and corrected.


I should have brought some resumes.


Never a dull moment...

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