lilongwe, malawi to livingstone, zambia.
A sign in Zambia advertising a one stop surgery/saloon/clinic.
So again I am going to go dickens(esque) and write this blog in point form again. This process is much easier for me and that’s a sufficient reason to stick with it.
Zambia – I write this from the southern parts of Zambia our 7th country and one where we clocked up 8000kms. Currently we are near the Botswana border taking in Victoria Falls – the smoke that thunders. Zambia is a country coming into I didn’t have too many perceptions (or knowledge) besides knowing it was formally North Rhodesia but coming away after experiencing an extremely green country as witnessed whilst riding up and down continuous rolling hills compared to some of our earlier drier areas we have seen. This greenery which by putting two and two together is due to the large amount of rain, which we have experienced many times whilst on the bikes – wet smelling jackets aren’t cool.
From our experience it seems that Zambia is one of the more economical developed countries in Africa whether this is from their plentiful resources, international investment and aid money. On the flip side of this is signs, billboards, messages etc.. as you ride along making all aware of the dangers of hiv/aids. Although this might be changing with education I have read in some built up areas it has a 35% infection rate which is insane to consider. As in Malawi there are plenty of young mothers walking around as opposed to the lesser seen and most likely non-existent older generation.
Overall it’s certainly a beautiful country and one I could easily come back to discover more then we have fortunately have.
Politics – every business in the country must by law have a picture displayed of the current prime minister, who I should add never smiles. In Australia it’s enough of a concern that Abbott may get in let alone having his picture displayed everywhere you look.
Shaun – the biggest event to occur lately besides getting slapped on the ass in a remote town by a reported crazy man (as indicated by the locals with the international hand signal) has been the arrival of Shaun, who flew into the capital around a week ago. Shaun a work friend of Gavan and Shane comes over for several weeks after having been on a big ride in Australia several years ago. As a baptism of fire his first day was a mere 182kms and for a 56yo man with 2 adult daughters he offered a stellar performance (please note that I may or may not be exaggerating his age slightly…). The biggest thing Shaun has bought to date is several bags of lolly snakes for me along with easter presents and after this is a fresh set of eyes. As soon as we set off his eyes were scanning the scenes around with comments of ‘madness’ and ‘surreal’ all at sites we have simply taken for granted. It’s great to be reminded about the ‘normal’ things that we have seen over the last 3 months.
Lusaka – A capital (of Zambia) that we were told prior to our arrival has no points of cultural interest with it again as with Lilongwe more so resembling an administration capital. With no need to race off to museum, galleries etc… We walked around taking in this seemingly affluent city spending a lot of time at several shopping centres. It’s amazing how the simple things can be a source of entertainment whether this be cruising the aisles of a foreign supermarket, witnessing people try to overcome fear on an escalator for the first time and actual good food in their food court – as experienced 3 times in 12 hours at the ‘asian hut’ which served a great blend of asian in general. The dumplings were great.
Livingstone – with it being one of the top 5 biggest drawcards in Africa we certainly weren’t such a novelty anymore despite occasionally flashing my tan lines in an attempt to stand out. The drawcard here being the Victoria Falls, a massive body of water that I didn’t think would compare to Iguaza in Argentina/Brazil, although it certainly did with its close proximity viewing it left us absolutely drenched. With it being wet season and therefore rivers running at their peak the amount of water and its power going off the edge results in torrential showers the closer you get. Its effect resembled a tropical rainfall only more dense and enabled you to be play a little more part in the scene.
Justin stepped up whilst here in an adrenaline way by bungy jumping off the border bridge after some encouraging, walking away after a stellar effort. At one stage it was going to be a group thing although Gavan didn’t want it on his tombstone, Shane was unsure, Shaun didn’t want an injury so early and I was certainly tempted but thinking bungy jumping whilst on a motorbike last year was reason enough for me to retire.
Accommodation – Now that we’re in the southern countries of Africa it seems gone are the days of sleeping on a communications tower or paying under $2 collectively for the night. With the larger prices one expects a bit of an upgrade in our options as experienced in central Zambia when I got into bed to find several ‘friends’ falling around me. With me jumping out of the mosquito net, light on and Shane in hysterics I discovered 5 baby mice nestled into my mattress. Mother mouse (Betty) soon appeared and over the next hour she collected her young individually with the assistance of me and a specially designed postcard. Back in bed and approximately an hour later Betty reappeared to presumably check for anymore by running up my legs and across my chest, much to amusement of Shane.
Our current accommodation here in Livingstone is in our tents (MSR hubba), located by the river and accompanied by the sites and constant sounds of hippos. Literally 50m away we witnessed a herd of elephants simply grazing away without any care of my precious tent and its light weight poles. For these reasons and the simple fact of being outdoors I can handle using my blow up mattress (exped) and camping towel (car chamois) for a couple of days.
Food – n’sima, n’sima and n’sima… this maize dish which resembles mashed potato but a tad blander is served everywhere and in some cases it’s all the smaller town eateries have. To add some variety to the staple dish I have taken to purchasing tomatoes, onions and avocadoes and simply chopping them up in the restaurant to add to our dish. Thinking this won’t work once back home to offset the high prices of a piece of tomato.
In other food related news I have polished off a bag of snakes whilst writing this.
Greetings – whilst stopped or riding along I am continually waving, offering thumbs up (my favourite), an African handshake or alternatively saying hello to locals. In most instances the local time-saving hello conversation is ‘hello I’m fine, how are you’, which works well despite not asking. With me doing this probably a hundred times a day I find it hard to cease being as friendly when in the capitals. For the first few hours I continue this trend before people start looking at me weirdly, it seems that we are not such a novelty off our bikes and outside of our lycra. This all said I do enjoy these gestures and as prior to my trip will continue to offer these simplicities on the street once home.
Football – wow this sport is not only big in Zambia but in Africa. I have learnt more about the English premier league then I previously knew whether this be by every second person wearing a team’s jersey (Manchester or Chelsea) or by sitting down and watching in as it’s screened in most bars. Here in Zambia you see kids playing in all of the time with balls that certainly don’t resemble a proper ball besides being partially round; I am presuming some have been spurred on by their countries recent African cup win.
Bikes – it has been very interesting comparing the state of Shaun’s bike compared to ours, which at one staged all, looked the same. Whether it’s the dirt, the worn looks or the fact it’s several times smaller they are like different bikes. His ‘ride’ also hasn’t been customised likes ours with the subtle differences only being noticed by the rider and for anyone who tries to sit in our own personalised/ass shaped brook saddles.
Ok again that’s me done until next time. If my short selection of images aren’t enough (until I get home) and for a different point of view check justins blog (www.justinmolik.com). From here as mentioned it’s onto Botswana a country that features the Okavango delta which we’re hoping to get a joy flight over to see elephants from the air followed up by riding a long stretch of the ‘elephant highway’ where apparently we’ll definitely see them up close, but fingers crossed not too close. I have been working on my sprinters legs just in case. Although coming to our final countries I am still concentrating on each day, each individual experience and any other various scenes that we are fortunate enough to witness.
As always thanks for the comments they assist in me partially believing that my writing isn’t too bad and possibly more so resembles a year 9 students rather than grade 6. Comments on my tan lines are also appreciated.
Certainly looking forward to uploading the rest of the ‘good’ images once home.