Day 31: New Frontiers

Monday 20/02/’17

It’s early and I am back on the road again. The next town, or should I say settlement, because I’m not really sure if it qualifies as a town, is Roedtan. It’s not long before I get a ride but it is with a farmer and he only takes me about 20km. It’s still another 10 to Roedtan and I start walking. It feels like I might be somewhere in the desert. The land is incredibly flat and the road stretches out in a perfect straight line for as far as I can see in both directions. The best part is that there’s no car in sight for as far as I can see either.

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It goes on like this for a while. Then finally, a car shows up on the horizon behind me. In a great stroke of luck, he stops next to me. The driver is from Pretoria and heading to Polokwane, he’s using this road to avoid the tolls. Not a great idea in my opinion, but at least it’s a ride. He takes me all the way to Mokopane. Just another 200km to go. But first I actually have to find the road that leads to the border post. I ask around town and person after person has no idea where the roads out of their own town lead. Finally someone can point me in the right direction. I walk through town for about another 30 minutes before I get to point where I can start hitchhiking. Not very long before I get a ride. It’s a police office that picks me up. She’s doesn’t take me far, though. Only about 10km. From here, I hitch a ride with a truck for about 150km. As I get out of the truck, I drop my water bottle, it’s a plastic bottle, but it shatters and I lose the last of my water. I’m only 50km from the nearest town in the scorching hot semi desert. No problem at all!

Luckily I manage to get my next ride quite quick. They take me about another 10km… Maybe a little less. From here I join up with another hitchhiker and together, we quickly hitch a ride to the turn off just a few kilometers before the border post. The next ride I get, finally takes me to the border. It costs me R10 but that’s not a big problem. “Welcome to Grobler’s Bridge”, a big sign welcomes me. I can’t wait to enter Botswana, I’ve heard a great deal of good about the place and I’m on the verge of entering country number five! I “log out” of South Africa as fast as I can and “sign up” for Botswana after crossing the Limpopo river that separates the two countries. The immigration officer has a bit of a problem with the fact that I am walking into their country so it takes me a while to actually get my passport stamped and into the new frontier. She also tells me that lions might attack and eat me if I walk in the streets. Do I look like an idiot? I am South African, we ride wild lions and eat their cubs for breakfast! I’m not scared! 😀

(Disclaimer: No lions were harmed in the writing of this blog. The previous two sentences were only meant as sarcasm.)

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When I get into the country at last, the first thing I do is head for the bureau de change. After that, I buy a SIM card. It takes me about another hour to get the SIM registered. Finally I can try getting to Mahalapye. This is where I am sleeping tonight. I see a sign that says it’s another 100km to Malapye, and I know that from there, it’s another 30km to Mahalapye. In case you were wondering, you pronounce it “ma-a-LA-pee”. I had some trouble with it in the beginning.

I get a ride with another police office, a farm truck and a small van before I find myself in Malapye (ma-LA-pee). Here, I get on a bus, it only costs me P16. It’s 30km on a “luxury” bus, TV screens and all. Just full as usual in Africa. Pretty cheap! When I get to Mahalapye. I get off at the first bus stop in town. There’s a large mall on the other side of the road. I think I deserve something cold to drink. It’s about 16:00. I know that my host works until 17:00. There’s a restaurant that has free wifi, so obviously the natural place to go. I order myself a large Coke, get out my laptop and try to get hold of my host. I try all three numbers that he’s given me. All of them are unavailable. What the hell do I do now. After a while I finally get hold of him and we arrange for a place to meet. He doesn’t have a car so he come pick me up in a taxi. I will be spending the next 2 days at his place.

It’s been a loooong day and I’m going to bed early. Good night!

 

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