A Travellerspoint blog

Day Fifty Six – Crossing the line

17th November

storm 24 °C

A quick spin around a few watering holes and then we hit the road. We travelled out through Tsumeb, home to a cracking museum on ‘ze Germans’ and their eventual expulsion from South West Africa, and on the mineralogical magnificence of a town that is the worlds’ fifth biggest producer of lead. Fact.

The drive continued and Redvers had his first natural shower in a long time. The tarmac was dark with moisture and the rich smell of dried grass made damp by the first rains filled our minds with satisfaction. Little did we know that the best was yet to come.

As we continued along the road north towards Rundu, the town on the River Kavango, two hundred and fifty kilometres from the Botswanan border we drove head first into Police Engagement #5: The Namibian constabulary had been fantastic so far; though we’ve been through numerous police gates they tend towards waving you through as if they’ve bigger fish to fry and hence deserve no such critical mention here. At that point we were fifty kilometres from Rundu when the road signs appeared urging us to slow down. As we approached the well established road block we saw a concrete hut and a few officers sat down, scratching, (you’ll forgive my disdain shortly,) on our left; the road was bedecked with cones leading eventually to a white bordered, red sign with white letters saying ‘STOP,’ just beyond this sign stood the self-important, money grabbing, wanter of Western goods that was already thinking ‘Any excuse.’

So, when Somers crossed the line, literally and not for the first time this trip, and came to a halt next to him, he pounced. “Oh no, you have crossed the stop line,” he said, motioning towards the part of the road where a line may once have existed. “The law says you must stop and the penalty which I must charge you with is fifteen hundred Namibian dollars.” He must have seen the rage building; it wasn’t well hidden and the look of tired disgust I gave him was designed to let him know what and how little I thought of him. I was feeling belligerent, with sensibility my only restraint and Miss Somers being deliberately polite but assertive. Laura found her driving license and explained that she had seen no line and had come to a stop next to him so that she could respect his wishes. “There was no line,” I said. “The line – humph – it has long rubbed away,” he retorted. My blood grew warmer, my patience thinner and my tongue looser. Again, “We stopped for you, there was no line,” I had said only a fraction of what I’d thought. “Look we’re really sorry, we’re just travelling through to Rundu, I didn’t see the line and I’m sorry, but I didn’t try to go past and I stopped here with you,” said Somers diplomatically, it was not for me to speak anymore for fear of writing ‘Day 103 – My Release From Rundu Correctional Facility...’ Somers’ magic was working and she knew it. “Look we won’t do it again, we’ve learnt our lesson, we’re very sorry.” The traditional pause, the sound of our hearts beating but still the pause; “Well maybe this time ees OK. And maybe you have something for me, a cool dreenk maybe.” “I’ve got warm water,” I said urging Somers to start the engine. She couldn’t start it quick enough as suddenly, Grunt #2 appeared at my open window, “What is wrong officer? They crossed the line and must pay the fine” he said as Redvers joined our discussion by engulfing him in a plume of black smoke that arises every time we start his engine. “We’ve dealt with your friend already,” I said, the car already starting to roll, “And he’s told us we can leave” I continued, now shouting over my shoulder, as Somers pulled Redvers away.

We got to the camp site at Rundu and I cracked open a nice cold can of Pepsi and greedily drank down every last drop, I’d have had a second out of sheer malice but I was full from a lot of warm water I’d drunk earlier. Laura reasserted her Britishness by making a pot of tea to match the Chelsea buns she’d acquired earlier in the day at the bakery at Tsumeb.

Once again we watched Angolan life, clearly but again at a distance and this time across the Kavango River. Whilst the men played football in the background, the women came down from their homes to the waters’ edge, washing their brightly coloured t-shirts in the brown water. Water that is heading to the same place as we are. To the Delta.

Posted by ibeamish 23:13 Archived in Botswana

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