Ever thought of driving in Africa? Through countries like Zimbabwe, Zambia or Malawi? Well there are a few hazards you might have to consider.
Let’s take Zimbabwe. There is one thing you won’t find your way around: the police! On our first day in Zim we got pulled over ten times in about 100km. The first time was just around the corner of the border. This is where we got introduced to Zim’s one and only almighty fine book: an official document that looks more like a scrapbook naming all kinds of possible violations including the fines to apply. We allow ourselves now to be experts after being pulled over so many times and would like to talk you through our top 3 experiences.
ROAD BLOCK NO 1:
The police circles our van while going through his fine book. We get to show him the fire extinguisher and that the hazard lights and all other lights work appropriately. ‘One of your back lights is broken’, he criticises. ‘No it’s not’. ‘Uhum, it is.’ ‘No it’s not’, we reassure. ‘Please come have a look.’ Nick gets out of the car: ‘See it’s working. Our back light is perfectly fine.’ The officer flips through his fine book again. ‘How much does vehicle weigh? Why is there no sticker on the side of vehicle? Every car that drives in my country needs this sticker. Your fine is $20. ‘Our car is not from your country so we don’t need that sticker.’ He walks around the car once more and sits down in his chair. Sulking. The smiling police lady next to him gives us a sign to keep on driving.
ROAD BLOCK NO 2:
‘Good morning, I am good how are you?’, asks the officer (telling your opposite how you are first without being asked seems to be a common thing btw). ‘We are checking vehicles for defects and enforcing the traffic law and the law of Zimbabwe. Please switch your lights on.’ We do as told to. ‘May I see inside your vehicle?’ Nick accompanies him to the back of our car. ‘Oh just married?’ he asks excited with a huge smile on his face as he sees the sticker. ‘Congratulations. It is fine you may go.’
ROAD BLOCK NO 3:
Police man: ‘Are these magazines?’ ‘Yes, sir.’ ‘Oooh this is way too many.’ Pause. ‘I like reading.’ Pause. ‘Can you give me one?’ ‘Sorry Mr. Policeman we still need them. You can have this one.’ Handing him a map of Etosha Park. ‘No I don’t want this. Just give me one of the others. Just for flipping through I will give you back.’ We give him a “Stern” magazine, a special edition on Hamburgs Reeperbahn written in German. ‘How about this one? You can have it.’ He’s happy and so are we.
Later, talking to other governmental employees we find out, that most of them haven’t been payed for four months which in someway explains why they try so hard to get money out of drivers. Needless to say, this country has lots more to say than our above stories.