Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Welcome to Zimbabwe

If you look on a detailed map of Africa, you'll see that Victoria Falls straddles both the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. After that beast of a layover, we proceeded to Victoria Falls on the Zambian side. Our ticket, at least, said Victoria Falls. We'd get off the plane, get our visa, and haggle with some taxi driver to drive us to our hotel. Easy enough, no? Then we could finally collapse.

We had an uneventful two-hour flight, the highlight of which was circling the runway a few times as there were baboons on the runway (!! my favorite only in Africa moment). The plane eventually landed.
And as we materialized at the top of the staircase to disembark, eyes squinting in the afternoon sun, we saw a huge sign reading
Welcome to Victoria Falls

That's right. We had booked a flight landing in the country next to the one where we had (paid) reservations to sleep in for the next few nights. Apparently when Steve had done the ticket search and entered Livingstone, Zambia as our destination, he didn't realize the best-priced ticket was now putting us in Zimbabwe.

It was a costly mistake. Zimbabwe visas were now in order. Then a taxi and oh! This taxi driver can't take us into Zambia. He has to stop at the Zimbabwe exit checkpoint. It's now another taxi to get from the ZI to ZA border for yet another set of visas. And then yet another one to get from the Zambian border to our hotel just 1/2 mile away. Nearly $200 later, we were finally able to properly collapse. And shower.

Now I think it's hilarious. At the time, though--remember? eyeglasses, peeling skin, smelling ripe, having just spent the night on two adjacent benches in Terminal A at the Jo'burg airport--all I wanted to do was crawl out of my skin. But if that was to be our one hiccup of the trip (and it was)--then color me thrilled.

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