Monday, September 19, 2011

Without A Kosher Passport


Dear Victoria Falls; home of temptation, excitement and over-indulgence to the extreme. I loved you with all that you represented, but had to say goodbye. My journey was winding down, as was the not-quite bottomless pit of money that was stashed in my money belt. It was definitely time to move on. At the last minute, I was graced by a visit with Max once more. As I hadn’t seen him, he convinced me to spend one more night, but this time with a roof over my head at his place. After three nights spent dozing in rough gravel, the warmth of his home was a welcome treat that I could not resist.

It was not to last though, as the fates offered me a ticket for travel again.  A highly orthodox Jewish couple and a vegetarian Seventh Day Adventist, who had just left his volunteer position in Rwanda, were heading into Namibia. That was the direction that I wanted to go in, so I stashed my rugged pack in the trunk of their car and climbed in with my newest travelling companions. Not to besmirch the gracious offer, but I have to say that this wandering posse was one of the stranger ones that I had hooked up with.  Far be it from me to snub anyone’s religions, but I wondered how easy it was to travel with the heavy restrictions that these young people had. I had found it difficult to find fresh water at times, let alone kosher food and carrying two sets of utensils to maintain kosher law. And while “God” is everywhere, how do you find any church, let alone your preferred church, temple, synagogue or mosque, when the only structures to be found for miles were often a collection of trees or dusty rondavels. I suppose God is in the heart though. My heathen ways would have had me bursting into flames if I tried to enter any holy buildings while I travelled anyway, so it was fine for me that they were few and far between.

With a quick backward glance, I now looked ahead to a new country though. We first had to cross through Botswana, a journey of only about half an hour, but this almost proved our undoing. While Eric and I handed over our passports with no problems, Israelis needed a visa to enter Botswana. This they did not have. What they did have though, was the car that we travelled in. The border guards threatened that they would have to go back to Lusaka or Harare to obtain proper paperwork, which would have either meant a delay in my travels, or me suddenly hoofing it from the border onwards. Neither option appealed to any of us.

After much negotiation, their passports were finally stamped and we were on our way again, next stop Namibia. This border crossing was much easier and suddenly, I had a brand new stamp to admire in my passport. I had already travelled through nine African countries. This was now my tenth and last new country to explore. The road ahead was gravel, and although dusty, a fairly decent one to traverse. We were headed across the thin Caprivi Strip, before falling into the rest of the country. Popa Falls would be the first place for me to lay my head in Namibia, and lying on the chilly ground once more, the Namibian stars were beautiful to behold. 

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