Border crossing madness

Crossing from SA into Swaziland was a breeze, at least on the road I took (see last post).

Taking the major highway back into SA was crazy. The Swaziland side was much more orderly. First you get your gate pass from the parking lot guard. Then you get in a long line which files into the building, get your pass stamped, then get your passport stamped.

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It took about 20 minutes, but the process was pretty orderly and fair.

Then you drive to the next parking lot, about 200 feet away, and get in the line for the SA entry. You are also needing a gate pass here, which I totally missed, and had to go back for.

This side is a free for all. I squeezed through to stand in front of a window that seemed to have the shortest line, but I made a critical error in that judgement.

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Never, ever get in behind a family. My original thought- one group, fast and easy, right? No. In Southern Africa, any child under 18 must have not only a passport, but also a notarized birth certificate, and permission to travel if either adult is not the custodial parent. Each child must be then put into a registry book…. All this takes forever, especially when you are dumb enough to get behind a family with 5 children, and they keep running off, but the passport control needs to see their faces with the passport to compare.

So I finally get to e window, and the lady wants the gate pass that I didn’t collect, so she holds my passport while I weave back through the tight crowd to collect, showing my key for the plate number, and then squeeze back through. Fortunately the people that were behind me wave me back to the front of the line, I get stamped, en get the gate pass stamped again (this person doesn’t even look at it, you shove it through the window and she stamps it. So I’m through, get in the Hyundai and head for Pretoria.

Feeling the need for a little karma, I pick up a hitchhiker. They are all over, but I decide when I see this old woman on the side of the road I pull over. She doesn’t speak any English, but she’s going my way, and it’s all good.

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