Just before 6 Sam came to me and told me they sold coffee at the bar at the gates, so we went and I bought a cup of tea. I quickly swallowed half of the scalding hot cup of tea because the coach was ready to drive into the border aera.
In the office I saw Thomas again who was in discussion with the officer and got out a little green book which was his temporary working permit. He didn't take it out at first, because he wanted to tour Zambia and get a normal tourist visa for a while. The officer had already filled out and stuck the visa sticker into Thomas' passport, but as he saw all the other entry and exit stamps, he wouldn't have it that way. He said they could sort me out first, and then discuss a win-win deal without me in the office. By then I had filled out my immigration form and was ready to get my visa. While preparing my visa, he still talked to Thomas and discussed the options. He finally stuck the visa sticker into my passport in a way that the corners overlapped and he had to fold them around the page. At that moment, a person came to the office looking for us because we were the last ones from the coach. He asked me if I was done, and I said I was, although I hadn't paid my visa yet. We left the office, and went outside where my bag was waiting. It had to be searched. I just opened it quickly and without removing anything, the searching officer felt around my things a little bit. I closed it again after a few seconds. I realized I didn't know how long I was allowed to stay in Zambia and told my helper so. So we went back to the office. I thought I would have to pay for the visa, but the officer just showed me the stamp on another page. It was actually the first time a country put the effective time I had asked at entry instead of the maximum allowed time. So I got 3 weeks instead of a month. It would be enough anyway.
|Stamp with expiry date|
When I climbed into the coach and the driver was starting the engine and about to leave, but I told them that Thomas was still waiting for his visa. So we waited. His friend Resh was through and waiting in the bus. My helper wanted me to go and look, but what could I do in any case? Nothing. After a few minutes, Thomas came to the bus and asked me if I could lend him USD 150. He told me he needed USD 800 and already had collected what he and Resh had together. He told me Resh would pay me back in Lusaka when we got there if he didn't make it and had to go back to Harare. I was a little unsure about lending money to the first person met in a random bus, but as his friend and colleague was going to be on the bus, I agreed. I took out my reserve US Dollars and gave him the USD 150. After another little while he came back and told us the new visa was in the process, but that it would take some time for it to be ready. He told us we should leave without him. On the way to Lusaka I changed seat and went to sit next to Resh who told me he was working in Zambia for about a year before going back to India. He's got family in India.
When we got to Lusaka we got out at a petrol station before the official intercity bus station with Resh. He negotiated for a taxi fare with a driver, and then told me I could get in. We drove in silence for most of the way, being so tired from the sleepless bus drive. The traffic was heavy and we got on very slowly. At their office, we waited a while and after a couple of minutes, Thomas arrived. He told us he only had to wait for about 5 minutes before he could come into Zambia. He hired a taxi and drove to the bus station where he learned we had left the coach earlier. He then took another taxi to the office.
He gave me back my US dollar notes that he finally didn't use, and invited me to lunch on the company's account. This struck me as a bit odd, him being a student. But then he started explaining his situation.
After lunch at the best Indian restaurant in town, they drove me to Kalulu backpackers where I would be staying for two nights. The two of them would have a long week now, because they would have to finish the job, and find a new manager in less than a week.
* Names changed