Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

Livingstone Travel Blog

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After three buses and about 50-odd hours, 35 of which were actually spent on a bus, I made it to Livingstone this afternoon.  I haven't seen the girls from Dar.  Either they decided to hold over in Lusaka or they got held up on the train.  The former not a bad idea as I feel guilty about zooming through the entire length of the country.  Anyway, either way, I won the race!  Well, I was the only one in it...

The first stretch was uneventful.  We started off over an hour late but we arrived in Tunduma at the border around 8:30 p.m.  On the way I was wishing it was Turkey as I knew someone would surely greet me and show me the way (this was truly off the guidebook, no map travel at this point), but as it turned out, there was a gentleman dressed nicely willing to get me to a hotel and help me over the border and to a bus in the a.m.  I knew it would cost me something but not sure how much at that point.

At 8 a.m. we walked over the border.  My helper was useful as I skipped over the rather long line of folks on the Zambian side trying to get out and into Tanzania.  As I was going in, my line was shorter.  However, the visa fee doubled just as the Tanzanian one did, so $100 later I was in Zambia with a 30-day visa.  Then the trouble started.  I was in Nakonde, Zambia.  There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING in this town.  It was also a Sunday, which I failed to figure into my decision about currency exchange in Dar before I left.  I figured I'd roll up to the nearest bank in Zambia.  NOT.  There was one bank, closed of course, and I doubt they had an ATM.  All this meant was that I was at the mercy of my "helper" who got me a bus ticket and then proceeded to ask how many Schillings I had and tell me the current exchange rate.  Again, failure to get it together before leaving Dar. I didn't check the current rate and I knew my guidebook was over 3 years out of date.  I had no bargaining power and pretty much told him he was screwing me, but he assured me otherwise.  I changed Schillings and dollars as little as possible, and figured out later that between buying the bus ticket and getting a small amount of Kwacha, I lost 20 bucks.  Chalk it up to travel expenses, which when putting together a budget, be sure to add in the "other" column some money for "dumb travel mistakes made or scams" or something to pad it a bit.  I didn't.

So I had the bus ticket, but it was 9 a.m. and the bus didn't leave until 2 p.m.  Again, nothing to do in town. I walked around it while the kids followed me smiling and laughing, saying hello.  That was about it.  About 15 bars, 5 barber shops and three restaurants, but nothing for me to do.  I just grabbed a tree and read...and read.  After a few hours a couple of fellas in suits approached saying I should sit in the office out of the dirt rather than on the ground.  I first said TIA, I'm always dirty and dusty.  Then I thought they meant the bus office but it turned out they were insurance salesman.  We chatted for a bit in their office nearby, and they had lots of questions for me, especially about marriage, specifically why I wasn't married and when was I going to be.  I thought back to the magnet I had on my fridge that said "Why do I have to get married?  I didn't do anything wrong."  I decided just to keep quiet as this is a heavily Christian place.

The bus finally left and I sat next to a nice school teacher on her way home.  We also had a drunkard on board who at one point was drinking an open beer and chatting with everyone.  He finally passed out, only to awaken after we stopped for a rest and to change drivers.  He sat up for a minute and started praising the Lord that he was where he was supposed to be.  He thought he got on a different bus due to the driver switch.  After dark we saw folks on the side of the road with fires going and a flaming stick, which was to be used to flag down the bus drivers.  I don't know where these folks could possibly live as we were in the middle of nowhere.  We brought on a lot of folks and stuff.  I didn't know where they all went as I was in the front and they were jammed back there somehow.  Incidentally, at this point, and throughout the entire journey, I did not run into one other non-African traveler.  Not the road usually taken I suspect.

We hit Lusaka about 4 a.m. and I jumped onto the third and final bus, which luckily was set to leave in only three hours time.  After we set off, we had an impromptu sermon aboard, which I tried to ignore my book about the Korean War for, but when I realized no one was paying attention, I went back to it and eventually got some needed sleep.  My seat mate this last stretch was a nice fella on his way to town for a job interview.  Zambians are some of the nicest folks.

So I'm in Livingstone.  I am also back at a regular hostel.  It was odd walking in.  It has been a while since I hit one of those and endured the stares from other backpackers and had to share facilities.  But they have a pool!  And a bar!  A restaurant...they rent bikes and organize Victoria Falls activities!  Yay. I can't wait.  During some of my down time on the way I looked over my budget and really can't afford these activities, but I made it this far I might as well go rafting or bungee jumping.  The rafting is worrisome as another gal died about four weeks ago.  One guy in my dorm has been here 3 months and said there have been three deaths in that time, but stupid mistakes have been made.  I don't know.  I think I'll check out the pool tomorrow and wait on the American gals to arrive.  They plan to enjoy some of the activities as well, so I might just wait to plan things then.  For now I'm showered and not in a bus and I'm in Zambia! 
chrisrae says:
Hey Jensclass! Let's see. I believe I'll head to Namibia next, or Botswana, on the way to South Africa. I plan to be in SA by Christmas/New Years as it seems like a good place to spend the holidays. As far as weather, I am missing winter on this trip for sure! It is now going on summer here, although it never gets as cold here as MN anyway. We still need the a/c in my dorm room and as soon as I'm done sending this, I'm gonna hit the outdoor pool at my hostel. Nice. I've had a few bouts of intestinal issues, but so far nothing major. I'm taking anti-malarials as well and Zambia has a huge problem with malaria. I've seen some places that look like "the hood" but what may seem like a not-so-nice area or a slum area to me may not in actuality be considered slum here. Very different world here to be sure. I'm sure there are better areas than others, every place is like that. As far as travel in the US, I've done some already, but I want to see the rest of the world first. It's so much easier to get to places at home as well. You can jump on a plane or driver and visit another state for a weekend if you want. You can't fly to Africa for the weekend. So I need to get to these far off places now while I have the time! Thanks for your questions and interest! I'm happy to answer more any time.
Posted on: Nov 22, 2007
Jensclass says:
Where are you going next? How long will you be there? How come you didn't just travel the U.S.? Has it been cold at all? Have you gotten sick yet? Have you visited the hood yet? Does Africa have a hood?
Posted on: Nov 19, 2007
Johnb42 says:
Ack no dying allowed , remember lifevest!!! Hope your having a blast otherwise!!!
Posted on: Nov 19, 2007
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