NOVEMBER 19, 2014
We had just finished our second round of pitches in SAIS HQ in Windhoek, Namibia. As we prepared to leave Windhoek towards our final destination of Cape Town, South Africa, the entire crew of AMPIONeers realized that we were unprepared for our over 24 hour bus ride through Southern African desert. Our throats were parched and our stomachs were rumbling as we directed our attention towards re-stocking up on our travel supplies before officially hitting the road.
Unfortunately, in Windhoek, grocery stores and malls closed at 19:00h on weekdays…and the clock was reading 18:45h as we left SAIS HQ.
The AMPION Bus quickly found a Pick-N-Pay that was in the process of closing for the evening. After some excellent negotiation between our AMPION VentureBus Leader, Fabian, and the store manager, we were granted 5 minutes to purchase our supplies.
Think of it as the classic television show “Supermarket Sweeps” in which contestants were given only 5 minutes to obtain the grocery cart with the most merchandise or a flash mob at a grocery store. Draw up whichever analogy works, it was awesome.
Image. AMPIONeer Francis C. waiting in-line during our “Supermarket Sweeps”
Now, armed with our supplies for the road ahead, we settled into our seats on the AMPION VentureBus for the very long track ahead to Cape Town. As we slept, as had become my habit on the AMPION VentureBus, I allowed the view of Southern African countryside at night rock me to sleep.
When I awoke, we found ourselves at the Immigration Offices of Namibia on the border with South Africa. Quickly, I found my passport and my trusty pen for filling immigration forms throughout the trip and stepped off the bus to our next to last border crossing.
We were in and out of the Namibia Offices within 30 minutes, perhaps the fastest border crossing of our entire tour.
Now the Immigration Offices of South Africa were an entirely different story.
After undergoing the normal process of filling out our Immigration forms and having our Passports stamped, we had to remove our luggage from the Bus and individually searched by Border Officials with us next to our luggage (which I can assume was only necessary to ensure that we were claiming responsibility for the contents of our luggage and could be quickly apprehended).
During the process, I have to say we were thankful the officials were lighthearted, often commenting; “Is there anything in this suitcase that will get me a promotion?”
Then, it was time for our free “massage” (*cough*, also known in other territories as a body search). The group was separated into the girls and boys, then guided to our respective “massage” locations.
Based on our later conversations, the “massage” experience between the girl and boy groups were starkly different. Nevertheless, I can only comment on the girl’s experience.
We were led to a private office in the back by two female South African officials, who then proceeded to ask us to place anything that will get them a promotion on the table before us and to pat ourselves down. Once satisfied, we were required to give a 2-min. pitch for our home countries.
Of course the Zimbabweans had to bust our a rap and upstage the rest of us.
Image. The girls of the AMPION VentureBus posing with South Africa Border Officials
Then, we simply proceeded to tell some tales before it was time to return to the AMPION VentureBus. Upon viewing the faces of our male counterparts, which looked moderately traumatized from their “massage” experience, we tried to hide our positive experience.
Once the guys were able to dry their tears, we went down the road and stopped for breakfast at a small English Pub before hitting the road for the rest of the day towards Cape Town. The rest of our journey was filled with occasional glances out of the window as we viewed the wide range of landscapes that populated South Africa and refined our prototypes and pitches.
Image. Our first breakfast in South Africa
We even picked up a film crew, who interviewed a few of our AMPIONeers and documented the process of our final hours on the AMPION VentureBus before Pitch Day.
By nightfall, we could see the lights of Cape Town within view. We had arrived. We even had a chance to take a quick shot of ourselves on Camp’s Bay before arriving at our sleeping accommodations for the evening.
Tomorrow is Showtime.
AMPION 2014 – Southern Africa Bus Tour Participant