Well, I managed to make it to Pretoria without further sidetracking.

  • Mozambican visa: Check
  • Malawian visa: Not required
  • Tanzanian visa: Check
  • Kenyan visa: Check
  • Indian visa: Check
  • Japanese visa: Not required
  • Pretoria – Maputo bus ticket: Check
  • Guidebook: (Insert sound of pencil breaking)

With all consular activities out of the way (for a few months, at least), I had today free to scour the second-hand bookshops for a guidebook (nothing doing – the closest anyone had was Egypt) and to pick up some meticals (Mozambique) and kwacha (Malawi). According to the inestimable Foreign Office, those countries don’t go in for cash advances against Visa cards very much so I was going to try and get enough here to see me to Dar es Salaam. However, apparently foreign nationals aren’t allowed to buy foreign currency so I’ll have to keep my fingers crossed that both Maputo and Blantyre have ATMs (if not, much cursing will ensue as I schlep all the way out to the international airports and use the services there at astronomical rates).

Pretoria is pretty big and bustling, and has a lot of picturesque tree-lined avenues that (according to the guidebook) look amazing next month when the blossoms start appearing. The hostel I’m at (the cheerful North South) is a good hour’s walk out of the city centre, so between there and all the embassies I’ve seen quite a lot of the suburbs as well as the excellent public buildings and statues. My general impression is that Pretoria must be the world’s number one consumer of electric fencing.

The bus to Maputo leaves at the typically African hour of half past five in the morning, so by this time tomorrow I should be at the hostel, fervently reading their guidebooks and copying down anything that might be of use. It looks like I won’t even have time for my usual breakfast of mielie pap (maize porridge, a local staple) – which means more peanut butter sandwiches (another African staple, believe it or not).

On a more sombre note, rest in peace Steve Irwin. There’ll never be anyone else like you.

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