07 July 2009

Border formalities

The rush has subsided now that we have hit the deadline of getting ourselves out of South Africa before my visa ran out. We made it to the Namibian border on the last day of my visa. The Namibian border at Noordoewer is a desolate and dusty affair in two parts. Stuart was very nervous as we approached the South African side, as this was our first land border crossing with the carnet, the car's passport that should get it across Africa without incurring customs duties. Incidentally, this was also Merryl's first land border crossing, although she was much calmer about it. The sun blazed down as we were directed to our first stop, South African passport control. There was a long queue in front of us as a large overland safari vehicle has just pulled up and decanted a load of bandanna and shorts youths for the formalities. By the time they were done the guy in the Home Office uniform could not have cared less about our visas and we were gone out of the immigration office in seconds. Next stop customs, which basically consisted in handing over the slip the first guy had given us, and we were off into No Man's Land. We drove across the bridge past the big sign welcoming us to Namibia. Around the corner from the sign we landed up at the Namibian border offices, again tagging behind the overlanders. We had some discussions with the immigration officials regarding our lack of a local address for our stay and welcomed their suggestion that we would be going to Fish River Canyon - which we were, but not just yet, and definitely not the only place we were staying. Stuart then went on to sort out the car formalities, paid the border crossing fee for the car and we were on our way. So apart from the panic where we had temporarily lost Stuart's inoculation pass (which no-one wanted to see anyway) everything went extremely smooth. No bribes, no hassle, no questions, no muss, no fuss. May all border crossings go this well for the rest of the trip!

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