Livingstone to Lusaka
After my walk at Victoria Falls I found that almost all the backpackers in town were totally booked out. It seems I had taken the peace and quiet of Zimbabwe for granted, and now I was to battle it out with lads on their “Gap Yuhs” for a place to stay. I eventually arrived at Livingstone backpackers, as the power went out. I paid a small fortune for a room for the night, and was told that perhaps tomorrow something cheaper might open up.
I ordered some lunch and settled into my book, the afternoon was going fairly well, until darkness fell and the roar of the generators sent me into my room. I continued to read by the light of my lantern. It was a wednesday and I felt ill at ease. I had abandoned Zimbabwe prematurely, and Zambia wasn’t looking good so far. I was alone in the dark, and I wanted to be back at the pub at home. Then I discovered I had left by box of Twinnings Earl Grey on kitchen counter in Victoria Falls. I felt very sad indeed.
In the morning, after no breakfast, as the power was out again, I decided that without a cup of Earl Grey I simply couldn’t go on. So I made a daring cross-border raid to rescue my tea. I couldn’t take my car across as I would have to do all the Zimbabwean and Zambian paperwork all over again, so I took a taxi. Public transport, how exciting, I thought.
My driver, organised by the gate guard at Livingstone Backpackers was very professional, his car spotless. I asked him if he could meet me at the border again at 10am, and he agreed.This public transport thing didn’t seem all that bad. I crossed the bridge on foot, got harassed by my fixer “friends” from earlier, but I must say, walking across the bridge really is special.
From the walkway you can look out down the canyon to the Victoria Falls Hotel, and into the boiling pot below, as well as into the falls themselves. I took some time out from my mission to have a stare, then proceeded on to Zimbabwean immigration. I joined the back of a queue of perhaps 20 people. A big, butch South African man stood behind me. He then left the queue to walk round the exit door of the building, cut the line, and emerge looking very smug. He showed me the stamp in his passport saying “Just go round, it takes 2 minutes”. No thanks.
I got through in perhaps 10 minutes, not too shabby, and made a mad dash for my backpackers where I found my tea safe and sound where I left it. I also found the very charming Finnish girl who I had met two days earlier. It was almost as if the world was taunting me saying “look what you left behind you fool!” We exchanged contact info and I made my way back to the bridge, once again stopping midway to take in the view. A man tried to sell me a wooden hippo (Like the one I had bought just to get away from the falls car park before) and then another man tried to sell me bracelets. I had, during my time around the falls, taken to just talking German to anyone who approached me, which worked very well.
My taxi had arrived as I did, 10 minutes early (impressive) and he took me back to Livingstone, where I had a cup of tea (thank god) and decided that the town wasn’t for me. I packed my car, and headed for Lusaka.
I stopped for fuel at a few different places, and was told that there was “No petrol sir” but eventually found a Total station that did, so I got in line. A black car pulled in at a mad speed and four mean with assault rifles climbed out, shouting and hurrying people about. “Oh, so this is how I die” I thought. But once their car was fuelled they left. And that was that. Welcome to Zambia?
The road from Livingstone was beautiful for perhaps 50km. Then it turned into a maddening potholed mess. The traffic became irritating, and the fuel shortages continued. I arrived in Lusaka well after dark. The street children beat their fists against the windows of my car at the lights. Lusaka seemed to have that special menace that many African cities have once the sun goes down. I found a backpackers in my GPS and was relieved for the port in the storm. I was exhausted, and went to bed early.
In the morning I was told that I couldn’t stay another night, as they had double booked, so I moved to their sister backpackers a few kilometres away. It seemed nice enough so I made camp and took a walk down to a nearby shopping mall to change some money. Lusaka seemed to hum all day with traffic and business. Unfortunately for me this continued well into the night. I lay awake in my tent listening to the traffic pass by. At midnight a man in a BMW parked across the street, and hooted at the gate until 2am. Then he moved to our gate and did the same until 3am. I gave up on Lusaka, packed up camp and was on the road by 4am. I found the man in his BMW asleep aside the road. I put my iPod on Black Light, and aimed north hoping to beat the trucks to the copper belt…