This morning, we’ve crossed the border from Namibia into South Africa—our 11th and final country.
Both countries being relatively well developed (neither of them requiring a visa, at least not for most of us), this should have been a quick and easy procedure.
By the way, if you’ve read my blog entry for day 3 (Losing EFI is like losing your virginity—supposedly), you might be wondering what has happened to our Australian and Kiwi riders due to the visa requirements that South Africa had newly introduced for them.—Contrary to initial expectations, they couldn’t get their visas in Khartoum (and didn’t have to go there a day early), nor any of the subsequent capitals. So they’d been kept on-hold with lots of uncertainty for over two months. Meanwhile, it had turned out that Australians wouldn’t need a visa for South Africa after all. And all the Kiwis eventually managed to get theirs after many hours at the embassy in Lusaka. No one lost their EFI due to the visa situation. Even if, they’d all lost it for other reasons anyway. In the end, the visa situation was really not such a big deal, just that it had caused lots of uncertainty and wasted time for the affected riders.
Back to our border crossing this morning. We were expecting the following sequence: Namibian porter post, South African border post, police check.
Before entering the Namibian border post, there was a STOP sign, and a Namibian border official. Ever since leaving Cairo, I don’t think I’d ever actually stopped at a STOP sign, just slowed down, as long as there hadn’t been any traffic. And ever since we’d had heaps of benevolent and easy-going police in Egypt and Sudan, and—at least in my case—no issues whatsoever with officials, I’d also expected them to be nice and forgiving all the time.
Well, not this morning. A few riders were waiting on the road to cycle into the border post territory. They and the official waved me down. I stopped, just in line where the other riders had stopped. Big mistake—that was a meter after, not before, the STOP sign.
The border official gave us all a repeated lecture about the significance of the STOP sign. Apparently, one of us riders had passed him without stopping. He needed to check everyone’s passport before we could proceed to the actual border post, and our colleague had to come back. E.A. went to fetch Bridgette, who happened to be the first one to reach the border and not stop—most of us would have kept cycling to the actual border post, just as she did.
“I will not let you proceed until 1 o’clock”, the border official told Bridgette, “you didn’t stop when I called you”, because she probably didn’t hear him, “now I also want to spend some time with you . . .”
We couldn’t believe our ears. Eventually, he was just playing tricky and did let her pass. Curiously, a truck was approaching the border while we riders had our passports checked by that douchebag, in slow motion mode. He waved the driver to proceed without checking their passports . . .
Well, we’d learnt our lesson: Never mess with border officials. Unfortunately, they have the power to abuse their power, and then we’d be screwed.
Stage 81: Felix Unite Camp – Springbok (South Africa), 133km
Road & traffic condition:
We’ve been cycling on the highway upon entering South Africa—great tar road, limited traffic.
It’s markedly cooler, both overnight/in the morning and not as hot anymore during the day, just pleasant. However, the wind has been crazy—heavy headwind pushing us back and making it even hard to breathe in the morning, Then, surprisingly, even though we didn’t change overall directions, the headwind turned into a tailwind after lunch—lucky us!
We might get lucky for our home-run and have no more rain. Apparently, it got freezing cold and wet in prior years during these past days. So far, the weather forecasts still show lots of sun for us—yahoo!
Spaghetti bolognese and salad.
- Crossing the border into South Africa in the morning.
- A final round of in-official rider awards. The yellow jersey was finally awarded to Mike. Julian presented lots of so far unaccounted for spit-the-dummies, including his own. As he still topped the list, he re-awarded the spit-the-dummy award to himself—well done! 😉
(NB: I also got an award this time—the newly created chin strap award for my marked tan line created by my helmet strap.)
First difficult day of this last section done and dusted; still feeling strong.