Public Key (xxxv)

We got back in the car and drove not a hundred yards before we came to a barred road. This, I knew, was the boundary of the Kingdom of Lesotho. Which meant that this was either a very well-situated car wash, or else was the residence of the keepers-of-the-border.

Border-keepers who pay attention to wanted posters. Border-keepers who check passports. On my Danger List they made number two, right below the bounty hunters from Empire Strikes Back.

I tasted battery acid. My arms felt like big heavy blocks that were attached to rockets; I had to fight to keep from walloping things at random. Instead I sat in the back of their jeep, twiddled my thumbs, and thanked beneficent Deity that I’d had the presence of mind to stash my guitar-case in the back.

The fellow at the wheel said “something something Reisepass,” and his wife produced a conspicuously purple passport. He drove up to the bar in the road, a guy in khakis walked over to him, and

“Deutsch?” the man asked hopefully.

The border guard shook his head. Reached in, plucked the passport from his hand, and leafed through it.

He asked a question in a language that sounded like – well, An African Language. There were clicks. Although they didn’t sound much like clicking.

He tried again, in something I thought was Afrikaans. The man just smiled up at him dumbly. His wife looked beset by nervous.

Where are you going?, asked the guard.

The man just stared at him.

Dammit. “We are going to Maseru,” I said. That being the capital.

The man turned and smiled at me. The wife turned and stared.

The guard looked me up and down. “Backpacker?”

I nodded. “Yes, n’tate.

He smiled at me. I smiled at WikiTravel.

“Passport?”

Well, not that much smiling. Trying not to appear reluctant, I reached into my pocket and produced the document that was me.

He took it from me. He held it in his hands. He looked at the picture. Shot the pages like it was a flip-book, and handed it back to me.

“Take the road twenty miles,” he said to me. “Take a left. Follow A3 to Maseru.”

“Kea leboha, n’tate,” I said.

“Ke-la-bo-ra,” he said. When I realized he was correcting me, I Ameri-Blushed, and bowed my head.

He stepped back, and waved us through. “Somaya hantle!” he said.

“Achtung,” I said, and the German put her in gear. We drove around a roadblock, and were in another country.

 

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~ by davekov on 16 February 2011.

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