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Day Fifteen – General Sir Redvers’ Entry into Namibia

7th October 2011

sunny 35 °C

Day Fifteen – General Sir Redvers’ Entry into Namibia 7th October 2011
We awoke in the Cardboard Box Backpackers in Windhoek. Today we had to register Redvers, he was still an alien as far as our Carnet goes.
Our Carnet (Carnet Du Passage En Douanes) is a vehicle customs document issued by the British RAC that needs signing into and out of a country. It is bound by a huge sum of money so that if we leave Redvers behind (not possible, we’ll lose limbs first) or sell him illegally (in exchange for a stuffed Kudu with a beaded blanket and fake Nikes) the po-leece can hunt us down like wild dogs and retrieve their coveted dollars. If, at the end of our adventure we are missing an in or out stamp for any country we’re liable for up to 800% of Redvers’ value. We will buy donkeys and camels and have him dragged home if necessary, that, or bury him at sea with his chassis and VIN numbers filed off.

Anyway so our border crossing had rendered us without an entrance stamp and that made us worry lots. But we were the dream team, only ten minutes of the morning had gone by and we had an address for the customs office in town, our papers were ready and we were eating pancakes at the bar.

Office Number One; we cruised into town like locals and pulled up outside the Nambian Customs Office. After speaking with the car guard we went inside. There we met a lovely lady who explained politely that although we were in a customs office, it wasn’t the customs office that deals with carnets. That office was at the railway station. Ten minutes of directions ensued roughly equating to left out the door, right, second right and it’s on your right, an elaborate map drawing session and an absolute peach of a ‘wig scratching moment’ and we were back on the road. (Most black ladies in offices seem to have wigs. Their heads are shaved and atop their bonce is a perfectly styled, straight haired nylon accoutrement, often requiring a double take to be completely sure of. Only one look is required however, when the lady decides to scratch her head in front of you and the hair-piece suddenly stands up like a cat in front of the fire, moves left, moves right, and then repositions itself in a slightly squiffy position on the side of her head. My open mouth and slight lean forward only lacked an eye rub to make it any more obvious.

Office Number Two; we accidently knocked on a private import and customs clearing agents’ door. After explaining we were in the wrong office, the young lady proceeded to lock up and walk us to the actual office we were looking for on the other side of the railway! The Namibian government must be organising PR lessons in schools as we haven’t met an unhelpful Namibian yet!

Office Number Three; as we explained our story for a third time, the lady clasped her head in both hands and said she had no idea what we were talking about. Why I oughta... I restrained myself and careful coercion led her to reveal that there was another office but she didn’t know where it was. As if it had been pre-rehearsed, we both slumped lazily and explained that if she didn’t know, we had no chance and this was the third customs office today, we’d have to wait at her desk until she found out. Ninety seconds later she had explained where the office was and how to get there. Sweet.

Office Number Four; as a precaution, at the Mata-Mata border coming in to Namibia we ensured the immigration guy stamped our carnet so as to semi-officiate our entry. We arrived at our next office and were directed deeper into the lions’ den to another desk where we met three ladies (all wigged up to the max) and a guy. This was the correct office! Inside we rejoiced, but only briefly. Relieved we handed over our carnet, he opened it up and his face dropped. “Someone has signed my space,” he said. Wholly Jebus Son of Crikey screamed my eyes as my mouth managed, “Can’t you just sign next to it?”
No, apparently, “I’ll have to start another page,” said Captain Useful. “We have 25 pages and potentially that many countries to enter so that’s not gonna be a plan,” said I.
“Just sign it and it’ll be our problem at the border won’t it,” piped up Miss Somers with complete authority and perfect timing. Our man may as well have staggered backwards, he was out with an almighty left hook that he never saw coming, and there was no coming back. “Err ok,” he said as he signed us off. Redvers was in!
We wandered around Windhoek for the afternoon, visited Zoo Park where we were accosted by two dudes looking for ‘sponsorship’ for a display they wanted to put on about the torrid past of South West Africa (now known as Namibia.) We listened intently to their history lesson. Howeverwe knew there would be compensation anticipated for this time they were giving us. We had three options, one was to tell them all about the little guy in Pella who stole our 40p. The second was to get all ‘Dragons Den’ and ask about feasibility, projected costs and potential returns. And the third, which we opted for, was to tell them we were living in a Cardboard Box and there was no money for it. Back to the backpackers...

Posted by ibeamish 08:56 Archived in Namibia

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