“…very soon……even today!!!”, Lusaka, March 2nd, 2011

Its hard to say what it exactly is but when you enter a room, a city or a country you either like it and feel welcomed or not. Leaving the MV Limbia (and hoping it will serve as ferry here another 100 years) this Friday, Feb 25th, around 1pm and entering Zambia I felt home right away. The immigration staff friendly, straight forward, professional and well English spoken. The people honest, the children shy, I love Zambia at first sight and I guess I just did say why, maybe not that hard after all.

Even the intense manual bag search is explained (“we have no money for x-ray machines…”) and Louis’s concept of entering common wealth countries with just one paid for visa is confirmed after a short phone call to the head office. Louis Ooi is a 53 year old Malaysian, living in Bermuda since 25 years, with the temper, energy and humour of a 25 year old. He likes to talk and to share his experiences as a pastry chef on cruise ships as well as his passion for fish and aquariums. As it is funny to listen and mostly interesting on top I don’t mind and enjoy being with him. A bit of a struggle is his calculating. He judges prices by comparison to US or Bermuda stores and restaurants and finds everything just cheap. I have passed that point after 4 months of back packing; I negotiate with African prices in mind. We solve the tension by me doing the prices and by flexibility of what we do. First example is him staying in a bit more expensive room while I take a run down place on the other side of the street in Mbala. We reached this little town after a 40minutes mini bus ride from the port village Mpulungu. It is here where the Germans surrendered in world war one. As we feel very safe we take a walk in the dark, discover a disco as well as a bar but besides a competitive round of pool and a nice grilled fish dinner there is not much going on this Friday evening.

The other conflict Louis and I have, him wanting to take it slow and easy and me wanting to go on when have seen things, is also solved quickly on Saturday morning. As his hotel has no water (and mine only cold) and as the only bus out of here leaves at noon Louis is the one pushing to skip to local attraction (a waterfall) and rather take to bus to Lusaka. I go with the flow, fine with me. As it is only 9am we have 3 to 4 hours to kill and I go to the internet café. Yesterday they had no electricity. Today the internet cable seems to be the problem. When asking around what time they think it will work again, she says “very soon”. When asking what “very soon” means (my German brain for a moment wanted to sit down and wait for the very soon to come) she says “even today”. The really funny thing is, that for her even today is really soon.

The bus left on time, only 45 minutes late, and to our surprise was not full. So we had each our own row to lie down and enjoy the ride. Good paved roads take us through endless bush and safari land. In fact it goes so well that I am afraid we reach Lusaka still in darkness but then Zambia also has its TIA and we run out of fuel. Yes, the bus runs out of fuel. When filled up again, the air in the pipe kills the engine and when that is fixed the battery is out of power to start it. Good for us, the 3 hour delay means we reach Lusaka in daylight, at 9am on this Sunday, February, 27th. The chosen pack packers is full but in its sister place around the corner we get a nice double room and take a nap. Then we walk into town. Lusaka reminds me a lot of the old East Germany or maybe the recent Eastern European towns. Concrete blocks more practical than nice and giving a rather poor impression on this quiet Sunday. Sticking out are only the massive amounts of banks, the fast food chain popping up every where and the expensive but always open and having everything “Shoprite” supermarket. The rest if the day we relax from the overnight bus tour. Louis is fun: “The Germans are the best, from medicine (Aspirin) to birds species analysis to machines, even in escarvations.” he comments when realising that the only reliable map for Zambia is a German one.

Monday is another perfect example of why I love my trip so much. At breakfast Louis and I decide to leave for the Kafu National Park trip today rather than tomorrow. 30 minutes later we sit in a taxi and at 1pm the bus leaves with us and some other passangers:

According to the Lonely planet we are dropped off at the Hoeck Bridge and should take it from here. However, it is off season, there is nothing really here (except a police wagon checking traffic) and distances are not walk able. I say to Louis that in such occasions there are 2 options: Our naive approach of coming here without organised transport, accommodation and so on we will regret (having to take the bus back to Lusaka for 6 hours) or we get lucky and end up somewhere adventures. The latter happens. The only car that stops is a 4x4 pick up truck. The 2 men are willing to take us off road for 30 minutes to the camp site. When this one is not operating they even take us to the next. Here we find two young men who built a tent for us (with the biggest mattress in a tent ever) and a camp fire. With the look into the stars and the sound of hippos coming out of the river we fall a sleep early.

Tuesday, March 1st, 4:30am, in a tent: “Now that is a lion!!!!!!!!!!!!” Louis comments the barking sound about 5 meters next to our tent with a rather fearful voice. As it gets more intense and as the barking is responded I also decide not to go out for a pie. That turns out to be a good decision. Out tent is about 100m away from the rest of the camp. The guide wanted to wake us up. Half way he sees 3 lions (the male had called and 2 female came) next to our tent. He goes back and uses a pick up truck for the 100m to pick us up. I guess I have to believe now that this sound came from 3 lions basically next to our tent. Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh.

The safari tour we take later is nice but not spectacular. Because of rainy season we stay on the main road, I do not get to see the leopard I wanted so bad but oh well, the 2 birds, who stay together for life and seem to also act together are also interesting.

The little monkey is fun as well and we enjoy what we get to see, Elefants, Zebras and lots of other game.

At the end of the afternoon we are back at the bridge waiting for a bus. But a young police man on his way to a business meeting in Lusaka gives us a lift. He drives 160 in zones marked 100. When asking if there is speed controls he says: “Oh yes, heavy fine when caught.” and pushes the gas a bit more. I survive and we reach Lusaka around 10pm. Wednesday we spend with internet and shopping at the two great western style malls looking forward to go south the next day. Victoria falls are waiting for us………………….

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1 Comment

  • yasmine says:

    I really enjoy reading about your adventures… So weird how we meet you again on the bridge! Really loved Zambia too! As you write, the peolpe were really nice and friendly. Wish we could have spent some more time there.. Take care from London!

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