After the chaotic scenes at the Mozambique border last week, yesterday evening came as a pleasant surprise.
There were about 15 other passengers on the Intercape bus from Jo'burg and it was easy leaving at the border at around 7.30pm and after walking 300 metres through no man's land I came to the Botswana border post. It was like a doctors waiting room.Clean, NO HASSLE, smiles, a short entry form, bang-stamp-enter!
In 1966 Botswana became independent from Britain and had been called Bechuanaland. A small place at the rail head, 15km from its big southern neighbour became the new capital for an impoverished nation. GABORONE. Since then it has been an African success story, and discovering diamonds in 1971 helped a lot. It is now a multi-party democracy with the current President Sertese Khama Ian Khama. www.botswanatourism.co.bw
It is as clean as a whistle as they say. No rubbish, no cracked pavements or streets and ALL SMILES. The currency is the Pula, about 6.5 to the $1.00 US. Pula means 'rain' in the native Setswana language although English is the official language. About the size of France or Texas, and the national team doesn't squabble with each other or score dodgy goals. It is landlocked and surrounded by Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa . The Kalahari desert covers 84% of the country and the original inhabitants are the San people.
In town at the Shell garage on arrival a guy who was on the bus with his arm in a sling offered to help. He worked at a game reserve in the delta and I ask if it was a crocodile that attacked him? Actually it was a small car accident. We share a cab and after he is dropped off the driver takes me to the Lolwapa Lodge on Mabuto Rd opposite the University of Botswana. I am in time to watch most of the Holland v Uruguay semi-final from Green Point Stadium in 'The Mother City', Cape Town. Pretty good goals, exciting finish and the best team won. I am hoping for a repeat of the classic Holland v West Germany Final of 1974 which I attended.
I also saw the Dutch beat the Soviet Union in the same Olympiastadion in the European Final of 1988. Two losses for the Orange. I was in Mendoza, Argentina when Scotland suprised them 3-1 and at Marseille's Stade Velodrome in 1998 when Brazil won a semi-final with a penalty shoot-out.
Tonight the classic Germany v Spain to see who joins the Dutch at Soccer City on Sunday. I can't wait !