My friends will read this, so I need to make this clear to them; they were wonderful hosts. I felt at home in Botswana.
My hosts did everything and more to make sure I was happy. They sacrificed so much to solve every challenge that came my way. I will HOPEFULLY go to see them again and again and again.
And so with some difficulty, I am a little conflicted about writing about Botswana. But I will be objective so other travellers can better prepare.
Botswana gave me new life long friends too, like Silas. More about him later. I only wish my friends were the border officials the day I was travelling.
I was looking for Botswana to “open” its borders for other Africans to experience and learn from them, however, Botswana was the most difficult and controlled border crossing on my trip. At least by road from Namibia, on that fateful day, I was travelling. It made my Mauritius border crossing almost a joke.
I almost wanted to get on the flight back home, but it wasn’t that simple.
I really wait for the day when it is really visa-free to travel across Africa. The whole visa on arrival business, in reality, feels like an illusion in most countries.
I have also wondered why some Africans are so mean to their fellow Africans and we give foreigners an easy pass. Are other Africans not visiting to also spend the same tourist dollars?
Shame on us. Double shame on any African country that mistreats any visitor, more so a fellow African who is curious to find out more about the continent as well as their “brothers and sisters”.
You might be asking where I am taking this, but you will find out a lot more if we ever had a private conversation face to face. For now, I will do my best to share my experience in the post and subsequent ones.
So, after that exciting experience in Namibia, I was heading to Botswana by road. A good 12-hour bus ride. (I am crazy, I know, but I don’t have an unlimited budget. Flights across Africa is not cheap)
I was already missing Namibia, but I was way too excited to see Botswana admit that to myself.
I have always been curious about Botswana since my days of living in London. I had Ghanaian friends whose parents were expats in Botswana and grew up there until they relocated to the U.K. They will talk excitedly about their childhood escapades and it sounded like a fantastic place, and it is fantastic in a lot of ways.
For a 12-hour bus ride though, there was not a lot to see. Just a lot of bare land and some grass.
It would have been really cool if I spotted a zebra,
or a lion crossing the street, you know, just so the stereotype about Africa becomes my reality.
Fat chance! Although birds are a given.
Anyway, my visa to Botswana was $100, I applied for it a month in advance, through the help of my dear friend who was inviting me as her guest. There was a lot of paperwork involved, similar to applying for a visa to Europe.
The visa permission was delayed. It came through less than 24 hours before I left Namibia. It was way too late to print an actual copy, but I had it on my phone… big mistake according to the border officials.
The immigration officials asked for actual copies. I couldn’t print one and mind you, I was now officially out of Namibia. My visa to Namibia was a single entry, so I couldn’t get back in. Looking back it was good I didn’t have a multiple entry visa to Namibia, because I was so close to cancelling Botswana.
It got worse, the immigration officials wanted me to explain why I had the permission the day before and I decided to travel the next day. This was a stupid question and I didn’t bother replying to that question or my schedule.
And so the drama continued. They wanted a faxed copy of the visa from their Gaborone office. My Namibian sim came handy for a while and I reached out to my friend to contact the immigration official who worked on my application. She did and he didn’t even understand the holdup, because I had been granted a multiple entry visa which was from the day before and was valid, my crossing should have been smooth.
The officials will not even accept a faxed copy from my friend. My only crime I discovered was, it had rained and the “mighty” computer network was down. (Feel free to mimic a Californian accent and say OMG).
This whole time, I was holding my bus up. The bus was supposed to wait for 30minutes maximum, to sort out any paperwork, but there I was, keeping everyone waiting. And yes, the ordeal took an hour
Continue reading part two here