Johannesburg bus station is spacious. Dark faces move slowly past as we sit, sipping burnt coffee, waiting for our third consecutive night trip to reach the coast. I can feel the water in my veins rapidly evaporating, hungry for the ocean I haven’t seen for a week.
We began our trip in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The waterfalls we impressive, our raincoats not thick enough as we stood on the edge of a sheer cliff and got drenched to the bone by rain headed for the sky. Likewise, the Zambezi is a river that does not hesitate to steal your breath. Gorges layered with stories of the ancient earth, a kind of captivating novel a history we can no longer recall.
Although remarkable, it took almost no time at all to forget about the water. It was the people that captured my attention.
Farai the Rasta man who spoke slowly and took us to the township to show us how he lives. He laughed at our accents, leading us down the dusty market streets, canopies of tarpaulin housing goods priced for the locals to buy.
The hum of voices, kids calling out to us and tiny houses with dusty veggie patches and sullen faces lit up with smiles as we walked by.
We sat in Blackie’s backyard. Sheltering from the harsh Zimbabwean sun, talking shit and looking through a handful of faded photos from her life. Blackie’s smile was huge. A laughing woman, slow moving with a certain kind of elegance. She told us that next time we should stay with her, in her tiny house with her two children and her uncle.
She was beautiful.
We caught the train to Bulawayo that night. Scheduled to leave at 6:30pm, we had slept for four hours aboard before it did. After 20 hours spent in a cabin next door to an angry white gentleman who cursed us for talking at 2am and loudly inquired about why there was no restaurant on board, we finally reached Bulawayo. 442km later. 3pm the next day. Just an hour before we had to chase down our bus to Jo’burg in a tiny taxi with a driver so old I’m pretty sure he couldn’t even open his eyes.
So, after fried chicken at midnight and hours spent in a queue at immigration, we have reached South Africa. In desperate need of a shower.