Yesterday, I traveled from the western end of Namibia’s Caprivi Strip down to Maun, the main tourist hub for Botswana’s Delta. I purposely chose this route because it’s supposedly beautiful and off the main tourist track. I was looking forward the views, and completely disregarded the fact that there is in fact no public transportation along the way. My journey went as follows:

1. Walked 10 kilometers along the road from Bagani (in western Caprivi) to the Botswanan border.

2. Hitched a ride (#1) with a truck to the entrance of a national park that is 12 kilometers from the border.

3. Waited at the national park entrance for a car that was going to the border and not on a game drive.

4. Got a lift (#2) in the back of a police car. Three policemen sat up front. I was locked into the back compartment. See picture below.

5. Thanked the cops for the ride (they didn’t ask for money – I consider that a win) and passed quickly through the border, since no one ever uses this border post.

6. Hitched a ride (#3) to the main road.

7. Paid for a mini-bus (US 50 cents) to the closest town, about 10 kilometers away.

8. Waited 4 hours for a bus to Maun that never showed up.

9. After trying to hitch (unsuccessfully) with every car that passed, finally got a lift (#4) all the way to Maun with a friendly Chinese man who works on construction projects in Bostwana. His son is also named Jackie. And he invited me to contact him if I’m ever in Beijing.

I left Namibia at 7am and arrived in Maun around 5pm. I think I arrived faster, safer, and more comfortably than I would have if there had been public transport. Plus, I made some new friends.

I also realized that I played the mzungu card numerous times yesterday in order to get these lifts. Many Namibians or Botswanans were trying to do the same thing I was doing, but rarely got picked up. So I made a pact with myself that if I ever have a truck and live in Africa (a very likely possibility in my near future), I will make an extra effort to pick up hitchhikers. Because I’ve been there before. Many times.

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