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Running the Gauntlet -

Etosha to the Bots border

sunny -17 °C

Normally, when one tries to estimate how long a particular road trip is going to take, it is a relatively straightforward process. You get your map out, work out the number of kilometres, divide by 100 for ease and voila! - x amount of hours driving plus any rest breaks. Simple. However in Africa, or at least in many parts of Africa this equation if you will, does not take into account the donkey factor. Or even the goat factor, or the pedestrian factor, foot and mouth factor, customs and immigration factor, vet control point factor or even the obligatory police road block factor. All of which we encountered from Etosha to Divundu.
Although it was a lovely day, not the extreme heat we had been experiencing, we soon ran into a glitch in our well laid plans. As our Namibian part of the holiday was basically over, we had virtually exhausted our Namibian dollars and were planning on changing some of our Australian dollars to Pula at a bank in Grootfontein in preparation for crossing the Namib/Bots border and making our way to Maun where we would change the rest. What we hadn't realised was that this particular day was a public holiday. A local gentleman I accosted soon put us in the picture and reassured us that we didn't need Pula at the border because they would take Namib dollars. Phew!
So after interminable hours having avoided any lethal animal related incidents, a torrential downpour and thunderstorm and the various road blocks we eventually made it to Divundu late in the afternoon. Here upon we learned a lesson in pure common sense. At midway in the journey we had blithely sailed past the only petrol station for hundreds of kilometres around, figuring that we would fill up at Divundu where my trusty Bradt guide informed me there were two petrol stations. So I cruised up to the first petrol station at the village and pulling to a halt with less than a 1/4 tank left, window down, ask the attendant to, 'fill it up thanks.'
'No petrol madam', he says.
'Oh, ok which pump works', I reply.
'No petrol only diesel.'
'WHAT!!!' 'You don't have any petrol?!!' ' When are you getting a delivery?', I splutter, my first world sensibilities affronted at the thought that, shock horror, how could a petrol station not have any petrol!
'Well, the truck might come in the morning.'
'You really think it will be here in the morning?' I plead.
'Yeees, I think it will be here', he says in that slow way africans do.
I am not fooled. I have been to Africa enough times to know that the chance of a delivery in the morning are at best 50/50. Desperately I ask him where the other petrol station is?
'no other petrol, only here', he says to my utter horror.
We have no Pula, not much food and a campsite booked in Moremi to take up on the morrow, things are not good in my ordered little world.
Defeated, we head off the couple of kilometres to our community campsite up the road, passing the defunct second petrol station on the way. The campsite does nothing to lift my spirits. Although directly on the river with a view of the rapids, my other view behind is of prisoners working in the quite unsecure prison farm fields barely 50m away. Maybe I am supposed to be reassured by the female guard supervising - after all she has a weapon - oh on second look it is an umbrella.
After a very subdued night, our heads full of plan A, B, C.......in anticipation of worst case scenario, no petrol for days, we impatiently waited in the morning until 9.45am and headed back to the petrol station. I really had no confidence at all that petrol would be there. On approach I am absolutely delighted to see the station full of cars filling up - oh happy day! We are off to Botswana...........

Posted by threedogs 23:06 Archived in Namibia

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