You can read part one of this trip here. So, after waiting for an hour, people started leaving the bus to hitchhike.
I felt terrible; one of the worse feelings ever. I was disrupting other people’s plans.
I felt like the foreigner with bad luck. I was the only West African and Ghanaian on the bus. No one should ever tell me they are going to Africa like it’s a country where we know each other by name.
I started thinking I should consider hitchhiking too when they approve my entry or sleep in No man’s land if I am denied. It was a Friday and that could mean, I might have to spend my weekend in No man’s land without food, water or taking a shower until the office in Gaborone resumed work on Monday. The thought of that was crippling.
Silas, my new friend who I had been talking to non-stop soon as we got on the bus in Namibia. Silas is an experienced traveller who has lived and worked in different parts of the world. He must have seen it all and had his fair share of overzealous border controls and intimidating attitude of some public officials across the globe.
Silas was also being delayed. His crime, wait for it; he had a resident permit for Botswana but wasn’t travelling on his Botswana resident permit. He was going to visit his wife and kids in Botswana. Silas is Zimbabwean (Married to a Motwana), who currently lives and works in Namibia. The official demanded why Silas wasn’t using his Botswana permit. This didn’t make sense. Silas didn’t even need a visa to enter Botswana. Silas was been persecuted and that irritated me.
I really admired Silas’s calm confidence. He finally resolved his “issue” and I was still waiting to know my fate.
At this point, I had to beg Silas to stay with me because I knew once he left, the bus will leave too.
Silas gave me his Botswana phone so I could call my friends and vice versa. Bless him. To cut a long story short, the fax confirming the visa came through just when the bus driver came the last time to check and possibly say they were leaving me behind. I was only given permission to enter Botswana, but I was to report at the main immigration office first thing Monday morning, which I did.
That also got complicated. But that is another story for another day because it took me another 5 days to solve the visa issue after going to the immigration office pretty much every morning and afternoon. Sometimes as early as 7:30 am
Backtrack…how did the people on the bus react when I got on? They did not shout and scream at me. Thank God! I apologized and offered anyone who was interested in coming to Ghana, a place to stay or a free tour.
I have to thank Silas, not only for waiting but also for telling me its important to complete goals once you’ve started. ( I was on country 7 out of a possible 12). Till this day, I hear his voice in my head, anytime I feel like quitting.
My original plan to stay in Botswana for 3 days ended up being 7 days. I wondered what would have happened if I didn’t have my friends?
I have to give a lot of credit to my friend Yaa and her husband for pushing against the odds. Then again, Yaa is half Ghanaian.
The international media often talk about Botswana like it’s the last remaining country in Africa that “works.”
I would have also believed it had I not gone to see it for myself. Yes, some things work, just like everywhere else.
I was looking to find diamonds in the streets of Gaborone and no porthole. The story is almost the same across Africa. The plus side is, there were no bribes involved in Botswana.
So what did I love about Botswana? Hands down, my friends who became family.
I loved the church. It was so special hearing the beautiful songs in Setswana and the sermon. The many people (Batswana) I met in the country were very helpful.
I was inspired by the style of some of the women.
I really admired how patriotic the people of Botswana are.
I had my first pap. Obviously, I enjoyed it so much I couldn’t breathe afterwards.
I love the energy and creativity of some of the young people.
Some also felt entitled. I felt like telling them, diamonds aren’t really forever.
I got the opportunity to volunteer and gave a talk at 2 different places and connected with more great people.
I was impressed with the facilities on the University of Botswana campus.
A lot about Botswana reminded me of Ghana, except it was way less crowded.
They sure do party hard on the weekends.
And some drivers sadly speed crazily on the weekends too. You’ve got to give credit to the police and road safety folks though. They can always catch you unawares with their speed gun. I wish that was the case in Ghana.
Should you visit Botswana? Most definitely yes! Just plan way, way, way in advance. I am glad I went because my host truly blessed me and kept me sane. Her generosity was out of this world. I made life long friends too. I also got to hear a special rendition of the rockstar version of “twinkle twinkle little star”, by my friend’s young son, J. That was priceless.
Will I go again? I hope so. I barely scratched the surface of this country.
They have so much wildlife too, and of course, I will love to see the famous Okavango delta.
Oh! The official I met during my exit to Zimbabwe a week later, was very friendly though.
Have you been to Botswana? What was your experience?