Monday, April 11, 2011

Life of a Courier

Oh, silly girl. Late for my very first day! Not a great way to make a good first impression, but you cannot turn back the hands of time. Ian had convinced me to go out for a last hurrah on my final night in Harare and it would seem that I either forgot to set my alarm, or just plain slept through it. I was lucky that the truck was still there at all, as I choked when I rolled over to see that the time was 50 minutes past when I should have been at our meeting destination.  The truck was loaded and ready to go, when I ran up breathless with tail between my legs. I sheepishly threw all my worldly possessions into the storage bay under the truck and slunk on board praying that I would be able to improve the opinion I was sure Kylie and Angus now held of me. 
By hook or by crook, I was on the road again.
It took a few days, but my training crew slowly began to warm up to me. With a five-week training trip to get to know everything about how to be a courier, I had a lot to learn. I had to be friendly and informative with passengers, able to book day trips, organize grocery shopping, navigate road maps, maintain regular upkeep of the truck, have fun, but still keep some kind of balance in that fun so that I could function the next day. With the history that I had accustomed myself to in Harare, that last one was proving to be the most difficult.
The first week of the trip was a bit of a review for me. We visited a game ranch, where rhino were spied and some ice breaking was in order with a game of polo cross. The guests on the truck then took in the ruins at Great Zimbabwe.  I opted to stay back, as I had previously explored the ruins and the weather was a little too wet and cold for me. Despite it being the dry season, this May was unseasonably wet with more rain falling than had been seen in many years. The gray clouds matched my mood though, as I pined for my old travelling companion Brett. I missed him terribly and wondered if I had made a mistake in separating from him. We didn’t stay put long enough for me to dwell too much on it though, as we were off to Lake Kyle, then Bulawayo, before heading to my old favourite destination of Victoria Falls.
As the days passed, it was questionable if I was in fact sabotaging my goal of working in Africa at all. Every time we came across another overland truck, as we invariably did on a pretty regular basis, I was thrown back into temptation again. My food, transportation and accommodation were paid for by the company, but beer was also included and I seemed not to have enough wherewithal to be the consummate professional that I wished to fashion myself as. 
By the time we got to Victoria Falls, I was hobnobbing with all my old friends and enjoying every minute of it. The first day, I bumped into Nat and Keith while I wandering with a few of the truck’s passengers.The night after that, I was hanging out with Max and Ndaba like they were long-lost friends. My blood-shot eyes stung constantly from lack of sleep and the pax laughed at me for my antics. I was always game for the next adventure though and dug in for white water rafting with relish. I gave my support to the girls who dove off the bridge for beautiful bungi swan dives as well, despite not joining them for that adrenaline thrill. My thrill was to see if I would last as an overland truck courier. The odds were stacked against me. 

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