Monday, March 19, 2007

Mad trip to SA and back

We took a trip to South Africa and back last weekend. The "mad" part lies in achieving the trip in one weekend! Meaning we drove down during Friday night and arrived in Polokwane/Pietersburg around 9 am Saturday morning. Took turns driving down but nevertheless not so fresh.

Spent Saturday shopping around for a good generator (the main reason for going) and other items such as clothes (yes me too...), wine, cooking oil, hardware and so on. It was HOT in Polokwane and I looked exactly the picture; a guy who had not had proper sleep and spent the better part of 24 hours wearing the same t-shirt. Nevertheless, we got the car loaded, refreshed ourselves and had a good dinner and then hit the bed early for a good but short night's sleep.

Off around 6 am Sunday morning, stopped in Musina before the border for car fill-up/check-up and last-minute shopping. Then into the border post. Let me say this immediately: both ways we traveled the staff on the Southafrican side were SLOW, UNINTERESTED and downright RUDE. Example; putting only one stamp on a form instead of the required two despite advising us on where to next take said form. "Go back for stamp". Happened several times. Computer lock-up, supervisor needed. Took near 10 minutes before we managed to persuade the half-sleeping lady at the PC to get said supervisor who looked as if he was still asleep when he eventually showed up. Note it was now after 10 am so not the nightshift or something.

When we finally leave after all is done we are told by the gate guard that we have the wrong declaration form. Same form that had been checked and read and stamped in 3-4 offices! He eventually let us through.

The Zimbabwe side was a positive surprise. Last time I passed through in a car it was full of tsotsis wanting to "help" and bribes were more or less expected and it was chaotic. Now there was only staff and travellers, a reasonably clear path of actions were required, it took about 30 minutes and we had declared, paid and were clear to leave. This despite a problem with some friends faxmachine that we had picked up in Polokwane after it was repaired there. We had all forms we could think of but still were missing one... after some discussing we were let off the hook.

The only other "glitch" on the way back was that I missed the turn-off towards Masvingo/Harare in Beitbridge and drove a few km towards Bulawayo before realising the mistake. Arrived home tired and "carlagged" (see jetlagged) around 7 pm last night.

Now all we need to do is to get the generator installed :-)
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