Posts By Country




April 1st, 2010 | Africa

Three countries in a day… Part 1.

Breakfast in the Gecko Garden dining room, at 6.00am as promised...

I rolled out of Harare at 6.30am and headed north-east on the A2. Traffic was light and I made good time, hoping to get to the border by 9.00am, as I had about 800 kms to ride today… To the east of the capital I passed many farms, where crops such as cotton, maize, millet and sorghum waved in the wind. The fields were well tended and I wondered if these farms were still being managed  white farmers… They looked too good to be managed by war veterans !! Fences were sturdy and gates leading onto the highway were closed, a far cry from so many other farms I had passed in the last few days…  Well fed cattle grazed in lush paddocks, and all seemed “normal”… But under the surface, tensions in Zimbabwe still run high…

I passed a minibus taxi, which had moments before clipped the

This taxi won't be making any further stops today...

back of a large truck as it tried to overtake it, and had rolled off the road and came to a halt on it’s side… The passengers stood close by under the shade of a large tree…the truck stood parked in the middle of the road, where police had told the driver to leave his vehicle. Fortuneatly, the accident had taken place on a long straight section of road, and the scene of the accident had been cordoned off, so there was no danger for passing motorists.

I passed Junu and rode on into Marewa, a small settlement straddling the highway. The neatly fenced farms had now become a thing of the past, and cattle once again roamed unattended on either side of the road. The area we were riding through was a picturesque mix of broken granite hills and koppies, jutting up out of the bushveld. Under many of the bridges we crossed, rivers ran strongly, a sign that good rains had fallen in the catchment area of Mashonaland East.

Massive granite hills poke their heads out of the surrounding countryside...

The hills around Mutoko, and leading up to the border at Nyamapanda became higher and more pronounced, and I stopped to take a few photos of them, as I felt I was running a little ahead of schedule… There had been no road blocks to hinder my progress since leaving Harare, which was a change from the roads I had travelled on before this, where ever 50 kms or so, a uniformed officer would be flagging me down to ask the usual 20 questions…

I got to Nyamapanda border a little after 9.00am, and pulled into the Total service station to refuel…

I was greeted with, “Eh… Sorry sah, but we only have diesel…!”

“Where is the next fuel ?” I asked…

“Tete, 150 kms from here…” was the reply….

Mmmm…. I had already covered 270 km on the present tank, and knew that I would not make Tete without using the four litres of reserve I was carrying in my fuel containers… Just then a guy strolled up with a smug look on his face, and innocently asked if I needed petrol… I replied that I did, and noticed that a little smile was beginning to develop on his dial…

“I have petrol…. R100.00 for 5 litres….” He said after a moment….

“I will buy the 5 litres from you on one condition,” I replied, after considering this ludicrous offer… “and that is if you allow me to pour the petrol over you and light it…!”

He didn’t think this was a good idea at all, and asked me why I wanted to do such a thing…

“I do not mind you making a small profit on selling petrol to people who are stranded here without fuel, but the price you are charging is just plain theft…! The price of petrol is about R10.00 / litre, I will pay you R12.50 / litre, and no more….”

Big Fella parked at Nyamapanda border post...and without his Police Clearence Certificate... Naughty boy...!!

Naturally he refused my offer, and after telling him that I would rather walk than give in to his little scam, I left the service station and rode into the border control area. Formalities were over in just a few minutes and I was about to get onto the bike and cross over to Mozambique, when a Police officer approached me and asked to see the Police Clearance Certificate for the bike… I told him I did not have one, but did have plenty of proof that the bike was mine, including a Carnet Certificate, which would not have been issued to me, had it not been so… He insisted I needed a clearance for the bike, and could not proceed without it…

“But you can sort this out with a small donation to me, and I will let you go through…” he said.

“Oh, no…” was my reply, “That would be illegal, and I don’t want you to get into trouble with your superiors… I better go back to South Africa and get the correct documents…”

I gave him a long look and then decided not to beat around the bush any longer…

“My friend, I will not bribe you or any other person to exit or enter a country… If you insist on having this document, which I do not have, then I am at fault, and will rather go back to where I came from to correct it, than pay you to look the other way… So, what is it going to be?”…

He stared at me for a while and then shrugged his shoulders and said, “You may proceed…!”

Apart from the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle !) hassles for bribes and “extra costs” from “officials”, Zimbabwe is a great country to ride in, and the people are friendly and positive about their future. Which, considering what they have been through in the last few years, is a surprise… With more and more goods appearing on the shelves of supermarkets throughout the country, and the complete absence of the Zimbabwean currency we have all come to giggle about, their optimism is understandable… I have visited Zimbabwe on a number of occasions, and experienced many of it’s natural wonders, including the Victoria Falls and the Batoka Gorge through which the mighty Zambezi pours, as well as it’s Eastern Highlands and the Chimanimani Mountains to the south of Mutare. This had been a flying visit, but none the less, a memorable one… The people I had met, and my visit to the Great Zimbabwe ruins had made it special for me, and I will return one day, to drink it all in again…

In small sips, rather than the large gulps I had been forced to take, due to the time constraints I was presently experiencing…

© GBWT 2010

2 comments to Three countries in a day… Part 1.

  • South African

    Great post, love the pictures (especially that granite outcrop) and the write-up. I run South Africa Travel Online and each week we highlight a travel blog posting to our over 28,000 readers. Happy to say that this week you are the deserving winning. We’ve linked to this post from our South Africa travel newsletter (scroll to bottom). This also means you’re in the running for blog of the month. Keep up the great writing.

  • Hey Ronnie. Happy to know that we’ve chosen your entry as our southern Africa blog of the month. This means you’re also in the running for blog of the year as well. Nice going. Enjoy the biking.

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>