Gaborone to Jo'burg

Mon, 18 Aug 2008 15:42:30 +0000

Gaborone Index Jo'Burg to Drakensburg

Getting up at 5:30 might seem early, but it seemed luxurious to me. It was still too early for the two women who run the lodge though: they were both asleep on the sofas in the lounge when I got up. This seems to be the standard deal for people running guesthouses in Africa, 24 hour shifts, and you sleep wherever you can find. I guess that explains why they were so unhelpful. I felt bad about waking them up to unlock the gate, but I did have a bus to catch.

The bus station is basically just the Shell petrol station with a little Intercape office. There were a few people hanging around there when I arrived, waiting for the bus. It helped that there was a 24 hour service station with snacks and drinks right there. No coffee though.

The bus was a little late, and by the time it arrived it was a real melee of people wanting to get a good seat. I was pretty keen myself, and I did my fair share of shoving. It really would be better if Intercape would allocate seats. I mean, if even the crappy bus services in Mozambique can manage that, why can't Intercape?

There wasn't much chance to sleep before we hit the border. Despite having crossed this very border not two days ago, I still got confused as to what I was supposed to do, initially queuing up at the Botswana citizens' queue. I'm getting a little sick of borders, and having to fill in the same damn immigration form every time. But then, it'd just be boring if all the world was like the EU.

And then I was back in South Africa, and settled in for the long journey back to Johannesburg. We stopped at the exact same roadside stop as before and I ordered more chicken and chips. All very routine by now.

We arrived in Johannesburg around 12:00, and I phoned the hostel to come and pick me up. I hadn't bothered making a reservation this time, so it was nice of them to do this - they fit me into an existing airport pickup run.

Once I was checked in, I went to reception to organise something to do for the next couple of days. The plan was to visit Lesotho, this being my last missing southern African country apart from Zimbabwe. Allegedly, according to Wikitravel, Intercape run a bus to Ladybrand, from which you can take a taxi into Miseru. Unfortunately Intercape's website doesn't seem to share this opinion. Although Ladybrand is listed in their drop-down list, it doesn't seem to connect up to any routes. So the lady at reception suggested that I go to Drakensburg instead, which is nearby Lesotho and offers hikes and stuff. Sounded good to me, gets me out of the house at least. I don't know if I will actually get to Lesotho, but there's no sense killing myself getting to every country. A spot of countryside will do me good.

I went for dinner at the Rosebank Mall, as usual. And this time I didn't even bother locking up my handbag, since I needed my Nokia to use the wifi there. I'm getting careless. But once again I made it back without being mugged. Another few weeks in Johannesburg and I think I'd be on the point of working out the paranoia completely. Dinner was a chicken baguette and chips, and I finally got around to getting a glass of South African wine while I'm here. Funny that this hadn't occurred to me before now. It was good, not amazing, but cheap.

In a mood to be sociable, I followed up with a visit to the bar at the hostel. As usual, it was principally full of the staff getting fairly solidly hammered. Backpacker's Ritz isn't so much of a party hostel as far as the guests are concerned, but the staff seem to treat it as one. Same as last time, a free shot of Tequila was handed out to me to go with my beer, just because it was going around. Fun, but I left after three beers, feeling that things were only going to go downhill from there.

I'm being picked up tomorrow by the "Baz Bus", which is literally door to door. It comes at 7:30, so a good civilised night's sleep tonight.

Gaborone Index Jo'Burg to Drakensburg