The journey from Johannesburg, South Africa to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe then to Victoria Falls proved to me that there is truth to the saying “Its not the destination, but the journey”.
We boarded our bus in Johannesburg and began the 12 hour journey to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe where we planned to catch an overnight train to Victoria Falls. We read and slept on the bus as we journeyed towards the Zimbabwe border. When we arrived at the border we took our passports and stepped off the bus into the longest queue (what a “line” is called everywhere outside of America) I have ever seen in my life.
The queue was so long that it wrapped around the building and way out into the road. Every so often there would be some movement ahead of us in line, then suddenly everybody would start sprinting in a human stampede towards the front. We were cold, impatient, frustrated and confused. Why are there thousands of people trying to cross into Zimbabwe at one in the morning? Why is it taking so long just to stamp passports? Do the people walking by us really think we don’t notice them cutting right in front of us? This would not be our first encounter with the concept of queues as we traveled around southern Africa.
We finally had our passports stamped and boarded the bus again only to be dumped on the Zimbabwe side to wait in another queue to receive our Zimbabwe visas. By this time it was mid morning and extremely hot, and we had a very uncomfortable few hours more on the bus until we reached the city of Bulawayo.
There is not much to see in Bulawayo. From the bus station, Alex, Maya and I caught a taxi with a young Swedish couple who we came to found out actually had the same itinerary over the next two weeks through Victoria Falls and Namibia (even some of the same hostels!). Our taxi driver was incredibly friendly. He took us to a restaurant in town and ate lunch with us, asking us lots of questions about our lives abroad. He drove us around for most of the day showing us his city since we had plenty of time to kill before our train to Victoria Falls. He showed us the city gardens, the market, and the town center, all of which look like nothing had changed since the early 1900′s.
We stopped at a grocery store to stock up on snacks for our train before our taxi driver dropped us off at the train station. We waited a while for our train at the station and found our sleeper cabin, which also looked like it aged to the mid-1900′s. We were pretty exhausted from our day in the heat of Bulawayo and our international adventures the night before so we fell asleep pretty quickly on the train despite the noise and occasional cockroach.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Alex Paone is a junior at the University of Vermont, majoring in Anthropology and double-minoring in African Studies and Geography. He enjoys photography, cooking, hiking and has a passion for travel. Alex is looking forward to calling Cape Town home and also exploring more of Africa beyond Cape Town and South Africa.</span></p>