22.09.2009 - 22.09.2009
Leaving Malawi we had been delayed for well over an hour, and by the time we left for the 5km trek through no man's land, we were 3 passengers short. By the time we finally crossed into Mozambique – after a 3hour plus period between arriving at the Malawian border and driving into Mozambique – the bus was again full. The largest of the trio had returned without a large interesting looking bag he had been carrying, and my neighbour grumbled loudly about 'those damned people again' causing me to inquire what he mean't. And as he's said it in English, I was probably supposed to.
The trio had been part of a larger group of about 10, all guys, and all with Malawian papers. Apparently the larger man with the bag was paying off the Malawians to let them through (or get dodgy passports from them, i'm not sure which) and was a well known people smuggler, who regularly made this trip with young men who wanted to get to Zimbabwe or South Africa for a better life/opportunities. Whether any of this was true, I don't know. What I do know is he returned minus the bag, was definitely the leader of the group, and carried himself with a kind of cocky self confidence that suggested that he had nothing to worry about from anybody. And he was at least partly responsible for the delay which caused to sit in the sweltering heat waiting.
After the Tete corridor and creaking bridge over the Zambesi, the Zimbabwean part of the border was one of the friendliest I have ever crossed in Africa, though the bus then got delayed for another hour or so for reasons I don't know. Add in another 2 police stops and then a puncture barely 10km from Harare, and it all mean't that by the time we arrived it was gone 10pm. Happily, the bus then shot past the nicely lit place it was supposed to stop (and where I had arranged to meet my host) and then dumped me in a very dark and dodgy looking corner of Harare city centre with some very, erm, interesting characters lurking nearby.
Hmmm. Welcome to Zimbabwe