Chipata Border Post, Malawi.
Officer: “You came from Cape Town to Malawi on a motorbike?”
Me: “Yes Sir.”
O: “Ugh. You need to be strong”
M: “Hmm not sure.”
O: “Are you not afraid of the wild animals on the road?”
M: “Ehm. Sometimes. In Botswana especially, I’ve seen elephants crossing the road in front of me. But if you don’t drive too fast, it is usually ok.”
O: “Woh. Ok. And nothing else has happened yet?”
M: “Not really, no. One of my cables snapped once in Namibia, but luckily I had a spare one with me to fix it”.
O: “Ok. Be safe! — And you want to apply for a tourist visa for Malawi?”
M: “Yes please, how many days can I apply for?”
O: “30 days, and after 30 days you can extend it for 5000 Kwacha (8$)”.
M: “Ok, good to know”,
O: “Then it’s 75$ for now, please.”
M: “75 $? For a tourist visa? That is expensive! It is usually 50$! — I only have 50$ on me, and Zambian money, do you accept that or is there an ATM here?”
O: “Uhm sorry. No, there is no ATM here. And we don’t accept Zambian money.”
M: “What really? Why? Every border usually accepts money from their neighbour country! How can we solve this then?”
O: “Well, you can exchange your Zambian money for dollars outside.”
M: “Outside? What do you mean? Is there an exchange office?”
O: “No, I mean outside, the black market.”
M: “What? Are you serious? — You want me to exchange my money for dollars outside on the black market? — I am not going to do that. I don’t know who to trust here!”
O: “Ok I understand. How much Zambian Kwachas do you have?”
M: “More or less 30$”
O: “Ok, give it to me, and wait here”
I knew that in the previous town where I came from, Chipata, that there was no money exchange office. Back to the capital Lusaka (600km’s) was no option. So I didn’t have much choice than to give my last bit to the government officer. I waited for him, and luckily after 15 minutes he came back with 30 ‘real’ dollars…
I just realized that an official border government officer just exchanged money for me on the black market.
Welcome to Malawi.