Tuesday, April 12, 2011

THEY CALL HER GABS

A long, long day – Botswana Day 1.

 

Our flight out of the O. R. Thambo International Airport in Johannesburg to Gaborone was delayed for an hour and a half. Everybody at the boarding gate claimed that they didn’t know what was going on and we kept getting the standard “technical difficulties” reply. For half an hour we just waited in the bus, standing, sitting on the floor, circling the bus, doing squats, holding on to the poles for dear life. The engine’s turned off, then on, then off, then on again. When we finally took off, it’s almost 12.30 in the afternoon. The guy from Mokolodi Backpackers Lodge was already waiting for us at the Sir Seretse Khama Airport arrival hall in Gaborone. He’d wait a bit more.

 

We landed without much drama. My passport stamped, I was whisked off and it’s Rizwan’s turn. Then they saw his Emergency Passport. Won’t be much of a story if they let him through. This even when it was made clear at the Embassy in Pretoria that there shouldn’t be a problem getting into Botswana. It was conveniently decided by the immigration officer that he needs to apply for a Visa; after a bit of negotiating it just didn’t look like we have any option. So that took another hour. At which point, it’s too long a wait for the pick-up guy. Fair enough, we agreed to take the cab instead.

 

We’re excited that we can finally put all that behind us and made our way to Gaborone. On the way we had to stop by at the ATM as we didn’t have Pula on us.

 

The ATM machine swallowed the ATM card.

 

The contact number didn’t work, the neighbouring branches were closed and even so, there’s no way to retrieve it until Monday, earliest. Everything else was closing too – including the money exchangers. We had to pay the cab driver in South African Rands. He asked for a bit more. It’s 5 p.m.

 

So we arrived at the Mokolodi Backpackers Lodge, late, beaten, starving. All the bruhaha of the day seemed to have come to an end. FINALLY finally. Or so we thought. So much happening  that day, perhaps it’s the misunderstanding surrounding our arrival, maybe it’s just a bad day for everyone, who knows, but there’s tension in the air. The conversation wasn’t going anywhere after we enquired about the bathroom. They told us that they ‘didn’t want people to be unhappy staying there. It’s a ‘high end backpackers lodge’’. Apparently. Mokolodi was quick to offer another place for us to stay. We understood the message immediately. We didn’t want to make a fuss. If only we knew that toilets’ a sensitive issue….sheesh. Low class backpackers we are, we left and took the cab to the Metcourt Inn. (It’s BWP350/night for a private twin in Mokolodi in case you’re wondering, that’s about USD55/night)

 

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The accommodation at the Mokolodi Backpackers Lodge, the few minutes we were there waiting for a cab to arrive. Good thing the dog’s friendly.

 

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At least this cheered us up that evening. A Chinese restaurant just next door!

 

That was last Saturday. Things have turned out great since then, as it always does.

 

Gaborone is so chilled out and relaxed. As a capital city, it’s far from being uber metropolitan; it’s not Pretoria nor Johannesburg. We are far less fearful for our safety – we’re finally walking at night. Botswana does feel like its run by her own people, which is quite refreshing. A sight quite spectacular I came across - people playing pool - on the sidewalk! We were invited to dinner in Tlokweng by the Weeks the other day and get to see a bit of the University. Next thing we knew, we were staying with them.

 

Yup, everything’s looking up from here.

 

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A sundae cone….at Bimbo’s :)

2 comments:

Jane Lim said...

waaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! Minta ckit ;)

Shaista said...

The adventures continue!! What a series of mishaps.. and yet no doubt you kept your head and sense of humour intact. Have I told you lately how cool I think you are??

Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors is a major feature in The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series :) Funny to have been reading about a place in fiction and now, watching it unfurl into reality for you...

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