Zambia

January 19, 2008 - Livingstone, Zambia

The officer at the Zambia border couldn't find our papers that were supposedly pre-arranged by our tour group, GAP. As it turns out, GAP submitted the papers to the wrong border crossing and we had to pay $100 US each for a 3-year Zambia visa. Victoria Falls, one of the Wonders of the World, is what brought us to Zambia. Victoria Falls is like the Grand Canyon in the sense that it is too big to really comprehend. 750 million liters of water per minute move over the falls. I don't know the length of the falls but it was so wide that you cannot see the entire falls in one view. It was about a 30-minute walk from the start to the end. The water vapor is shot up into the sky and falls down like a light rain the entire length of the falls. Once we arrived it began to rain as well. torrential downpour would be more accurate. Terry and I continue to take photos as best we could. I kept my Nikon in a plastic bag between shot but the dampness eventually became a problem. When on the camera would continue to take photo after photo and I had to shut it off and remove the battery. Remember Terry's camera, our small Canon, that we thought was trashed from the sand? I babied it and eventually kept is working. But the water got into the battery compartment and it is toast for good now. We let it dry out for a day and the only response we get when turning it on is a sick sound and a light show from the various LEDs.

After the falls we perused the various shops that line the Falls entrance. One merchant said he would trade four small carvings for my socks. The sopping wet, dirty socks on my feet. Intrigued, I entered his shop and we started talking. He asked me to see the socks so I took them off and handed them to him. He inspected them for holes and he said they were good hiking socks. He didn't want to loose the chance to get the socks, or loose me as a customer, but the four carvings for my socks deal already started to change. He need a little money to pay for detergent to wash the socks. Say $10 US. He valued the used socks at about $8 US and said he would give me $8 off of the price -- already inflated price for Americans, since ALL Americans are rich. My goal became to get something for the socks and no money, but the socks were just a red herring. After about 15 minutes of bargaining he was down to selling me one carving for $4 US and he said I could keep the socks. I explained if the socks were worth $8 I would glady trade them for the $4 carving. Eventually we understood each other and he realized I wasn't the typical shopping tourist. But the merchant has the control and always wins in the end. If he can't make a profit, he doesn't sell. I paid $4 US for a unique ironwood carving of a buffalo. He never really wanted my socks or maybe he wanted them on top of the sale. Terry and I visited the other shops, me with my socks in hand. Each merchant in turn told me they would trade my socks for some small carving. “Come in and just look. It is free to look.” But just like the day in New York City when I paid $20 to learn the real secret of 3-card monte, I was wiser.

In the after noon we had a booze cruise. This was a game cruise but was more booze than game. We did see a heard of elephants and some hippos, but that was about it. Dinner was included but was very basic. However, we did thoroughly enjoy downing a few beers, the cool breeze as we cruised down the river, and chatting with fellow travelers. The only other thing we did in Zambia was our last dinner with the GAP group at Ngoma Zanga restaurant in Livingstone. We were welcome with a thick, sour, fermented drink made from maize and water. Dinner was a buffet and so we tried a variety of local dishes. We were entertained with some singing and dancing as well. I turned it up a notch and ordered the Vinkubala Mopane Worms for an appetizer. The worms are harvested only 3 months a year and are dried for 3 months before prepared. Tasted a bit like prawns. We had some left over so I offered them to another group in the restaurant.

Namita and I have been counting down the number of tent set-ups and break-downs hoping for good weather each one. On the last night we were down to one break-down. At 5 am I was woken by a few drops of rain on our canvas roof. I got up and dropped all the rain shades. At 6 am I woke up, emptied my gear from the tent and started packing in the truck. Then the rain came. And came. And came. I was talking to a few people in the truck hoping the rain would stop. I knew Terry would enjoy the extra sleep. But the rain never stopped and it was time for breakfast so I went to go get Terry. What I found when I got to the tent was that it was surrounded by a lake of rain water. The entire campground area was flooded in 30 minutes and there was at least 3 inches of water under our tent. Terry was still sleeping and didn't realize. So I woke her and she started packing. The tent canvas floor was floating on lake "Our site". Check out the photo. One of Namita's sandals floated away in the newly created river running through the camp ground. I considered gathering up two of each animal I could find just in case. We left the tent and went for breakfast hoping that it would clear up enough to pack up. In the end, Terry and I never packed up the tent. The Driver was wanting to get on the road and so our cook Jeffery packed our tent for us.

So this was the end of our GAP tour through Botswana and Zambia. We donated the airline pillows and blankets to some of the travelers just joining the tour which continues back through Botswana. We donated the towels we bought in Windhoek, which were wet for the last 3 days, to the cook for his kitchen. He gladly accepted them and we lightened our load.


Pictures

Victoria Falls
Drenched at Victoria Falls
 
 
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