Tuesday, 3 March 2009

International Fancy Dress

One of the most childish and simple things in life never fails to give a thrill, Ben Whateley-Harris tells of his love of dressing up no matter where in the world you are

The border official took my dog-eared passport from me with some hesitation, he stared at the picture for what seemed an age. Then a broad smile opened revealing a huge set of gold teeth  as he smacked the stamp down creating a massive bang that make the person in the queue behind me jump.
I had just successfully crossed from Namibia into Botswana along with four others in full drag. This wasn’t a bet or a dare, it was simply an act of spontaneity and to see if we could get away with it.
Suddenly it dawned on me what we had done, raided a roadside market and for below a pound purchased an entire outfit for someone else and then worn what they had bought for you to cross the border, something so silly and childish, yet we all grasped at the challenge and had completed it.

Fancy dress breaks down all barriers, its like traveling I always say. You are all in the same boat and can chat openly to one another as you share a mutual experience. Whether that be you have been to the same countries on your respective journeys or you are at a  party wondering where they got their costume from!

Botswana in all its glory stood before us, with our dresses blowing in the breeze and a massive smile on our face we waved at the tour buses piling up at the border who all looked at us in a mixture of amazement and utter horror.

I was wearing a blue dress that was far too tight and cut under ,my arms, with that there was a massive net curtain flowing like a wedding veil behind it, only in pink not white. An Irish guy wore a long orange ghastly skirt with a green top and a middle age Australian wore what looked like something an older version of a goat herders wife would wear. While the token south African and American wore matching Hawaiian skirts and blue sequin tops.

All together we looked a state a complete gaggle of weirdness that had somehow piled through a border and taken the border guards by complete surprise. Many of the officials had now come outside for a cigarette and stood there in the midday heat looking at the strangest sight to have crossed that Southern African border today.

The tourist buses and independent travelers looking weary in their land-rovers and khaki stood transfixed by us mucking about in drag. One onlooker watched until the cigarette burn down to his lips causing to suddenly snap out of his trance and spit out the but while licking his lips.

We continued to travel on, and wore those ridiculous clothes for the rest of the day. Finally arriving at our destination we all pled into a bar and there the staring continued.

If you ever want to make an arrival do it in drag, but be waned many borders are not as lax as the Namibian- Botswana crossing. So be careful where you dress up!

Dressed to thrill

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