So we're in a remote area of Africa and we have no fuel and no cash. And we have to do a 450 km (279 mile) drive. And gas stations only accept cash in Namibia!
We should have used an ATM in the town of Rundu when we went through there a few days ago on our way to Namushasha. But, I figured there's a couple of towns along the way and we'd have no problem. Poor planning, and I should know better after all of the traveling we've done.
We said goodbye to our new friends at Namushasha Lodge and headed north for 24 km's (15 miles) towards the main highway where we knew there was a gas station, store, and most importantly an ATM. Staff at the lodge had said we shouldn't have a problem, and I knew that the worst case scenario was that we would end up back at the lodge for another night. Not so bad an option, all in all!
So we got there and I went in to use the ATM. There was a girl in front of me, and she couldn't get it to work. The connection is through the cellular network. The ATM actually had a cell antenna on the top of it!
I tried and the slip said..."cannot process at this time, please try again later". Hm.
Tried a few more times with the same response.
Our debit card has worked with zero problems throughout Namibia so far so either the machine was out of cash, or there was a network problem. I went to the manager of the store and asked about it. He said he filled the machine that day himself so he knew there was cash in it, but he admitted that sometimes there were network "issues". I asked if I should try again in a half an hour or so. He laughed and said that if it's a network issue I might want to wait until tomorrow to try again!
I asked about buying gas with a credit card, but he said nope, it's just not possible. Even though you could buy goods in the store by credit card. I guess it's just the way it is.
The store was fairly busy, but another employee had heard my dilemma and took me aside and said, just keep on trying, it will eventually go through. So I did.
And he was right! I was so happy when that machine spit out some cash!
Meanwhile, Ruth was waiting in the car and she had a couple of guys come up to her asking for a ride. Like I've said, it's pretty common to hitchhike, but these guys wanted to go further than we were going and I really didn't want them for the whole journey. Felt bad saying no, but life goes on.
We filled up with fuel and were on our way!
Made it 10 minutes to a police checkpoint were we were told to get out of the car and wipe our feet on a disinfectant mat. Then, the cop asked where we were going. "Rundu", I said.
"Oh", he says..."can you give my sister a ride?"
Now, you don't really want to turn down the police officer, but I still wanted to qualify this a little. I asked how many people. Sometimes they'll ask for one person, but when you say yes there are three or four more! Turns out it really was just the one girl and so she climbed in.
Her name was Sadness. Yep, spelled just like that. Her English was almost perfect and it turned out that she was a police officer as well, and she had just finished a shift and was heading back to Rundu to her husband and children. A 400 km commute! But, she works six days on and they supply accommodation and then she has three days off.
We enjoyed having her along for the ride, although she was tired and slept for a good part of the way.
We stopped in Rundu and bought some groceries, some beer, some wine, some more gas, and used the ATM ! Everything is full again!
And then we went back to Hakusembe River Lodge! This time, we were there just in time to have a quick beer and then hop on their river cruise. There aren't a lot of animals to see, but lots of bird life. When there are 300 species of birds in the area, you're bound to see something new!
Three pied kingfishers.
A malacheti kingfisher. Sorry for the poor focus!
A woodland kingfisher.
Our guide Matheus. You can see on the table that they had snacks for us. They also had a cooler full of drinks!
Finally got a pic of a croc. This one was only about 2 meters long, but he was still big enough. And we were not very far away from him!
He acted like we weren't even there. Good thing!
So this is the river cruise where Angola is on the other side. Sure enough, one of the others wanted to set his feet on Angola soil, so Matheus pulled the boat over to that shore. Ruth decided she wanted to, but I had no ambition. I want to experience a country, not just say I had my feet there for a few seconds.
Ruth, illegally in Angola.
The sunset sky was fantastic!
After the sunset, we started heading back to the lodge. Remember how I said that they had a cooler full of drinks on board? Well, it wouldn't be like me to turn down a beer or two when they're offered to me. Problem is, there are no facilities on board this little boat! I explained to everyone that I needed to take a pee break and I was quite prepared to go over the side of the boat! You gotta do what you gotta do! But Matheus said the shore was only a minute away. Yes, the Angola shore.
Kevin in Angola. Illegally.
So now we've both been to Angola. Ruth had told me when she got in the boat that she's been to one more country than me. Not so any more.