Lusaka to Livingstone
I’m waiting in the airport for the flight to Livingstone, writing down snippets that I have noticed but not mentioned in my earlier messages. So here they are, in a stream of consciousness format.
This morning, I jam packed everything I would need for my two day trip into my small carry on bag, then realized that I wouldn’t have any place to pack anything I might purchase there. I’m told there are great woodcarvings. I’m hoping so- the hotel where the training is held has wonderful, graceful woodcarvings. I’ve been particularly taken with a tall giraffe with large eyes and long eyelashes- and an elephant whose lines simply flow. Lovely.
I woke up with a migraine, after 10 hours of sleep. My poor body doesn’t handle the extreme of going from 5 or 6 hours to that much time in bed. I actually woke up minutes before my 8 am wake up call. After waking up at 5:45 for the past four days, it was a luxury to “sleep in.”
I tried to convert my Nigerian naira left over from my trip last year. No one will touch it. John explained to me that, other than the South African rand, African currencies are only negotiable in their own countries.
There was a lovely cool breeze this morning, so I walked around before I needed to board my 10 a.m. shuttle to the airport. There are palm trees, beautiful vibrantly colored flowers and flowering trees, a pond with water geysers- and in the parking lot, there are tents to cover the cars. I noticed a line up of about 30 chairs along the entry way to the hotel- and was informed they were there in preparation for a group photo.
Speaking of photos, on Wednesday, the two young junior accountants I sat with at lunch wanted my photo eating with each of them. Yesterday, John wanted a number of photos of me behind each table of participants, up in the front near the screen. I was wearing a dress I bought in Nigeria under the mistaken impression it was Nigerian. It is not the most becoming outfit I brought. However, several of the women serving lunch mentioned how much they like it.
Oh, in this “buffet,” there is a server behind every dish to ladle it out.
We went through two checkpoints to get to the airport. In both instances, the hotel shuttle was waived through.
Transportation: 50 people packed into the back of a pick up truck. Similar numbers crammed into private blue mini vans, which drop them off miles from their final destinations. You see people walking everywhere, in suits and ties, high heels, women in what must be native dress (blue cloth with white oblong circles wrapped around their waists).
The stylist topiary here is having bushes extend small thin leafy branches in arches to attach to other bushes.
The major domo at the hotel has small pins from all over the world studding his long jacket. Guests have given them to him. I had nothing to add, but I certainly enjoyed one of the pins that said, “Listen to women.” I agree!
The long pointed toe shoes I noticed young stylish men in Jordan wearing are also the style here for some of the men.
One gentleman, Oswall Chilikiwonda from Livingstone (he drove the 5-6 hour trip here with another gentleman) wears the pointed shoes and zoot suits! Tall and very skinny, I told him that he was a vision of sartorial splendor (and explained what I meant). His response- Yes, he’s told that a lot, in other words!
On the way to the airport, I noticed a man standing in the middle of a half-acre plot of struggling grass, using a hand held hose to water it. That must take him all day!
The Lusaka airport is very loosey-goosey. When I tried to check in, I was told they weren’t checking in passengers to Livingstone yet, come back at 10:50. At 10:50, they told me another 10 minutes. Around 11:20, I finally was checked in. But previous to that, there were five airport personnel having long involved conversations, even during the check in process. I’d like to believe that they’ve done this before, but the state of confusion and disarray makes me wonder.
Going through security, I wore my shoes, jacket- I took out my computer, but I don’t think anyone was watching any monitor.
My seat assignment is A (alpha). I have absolutely no idea what that will mean when I get on the plane.
While I was waiting to board, I met Paul (Jamaican) and Nada (Lebanese/Australian) who have been married for three years. Paul is an interpreter for the UN, so he is in Lusaka for a conference. He interprets French and Spanish into English.
We discovered that an A assignment meant that you were seated first on this small prop plane and could sit anywhere you wanted. As we took off, I saw a crane (bird) next to the runway. It must be deaf!
It was a very bumpy ride, always within sight of land. It took about an hour and just before we landed, I saw the fabled mist from the Falls.
I located my driver with no trouble and went to Maramba River Lodge, which is right along the Zambezi River. As we drove along, I noticed a lot of devastation on a forest of trees. According to my driver, who is a Livingstone native, it is an elephants’ playground! I was very alert, but I didn’t see any.
He also told me that this is the dry season, so there won’t be much water going over the falls. A lot of it is diverted. Now, if I went to the Zimbabwe side, I would see water. However, that would require getting a visa to go there and another visa to come back (since my visa was for a one-time entry).
My room is Chalet 2, a small cottage with a straw roof and mosquito netting around the bed. There are candles, in case the electricity goes out.
I was hungry, so I went to the restaurant, where I was the only one. It was 2:30 and I really needed some lunch. While I waited for my chicken and pineapple salad (which was delicious) I watched the river. I realized that there was a small crocodile just below the surface of the water. I don’t know if he expected me to throw him something to eat. I had nothing to offer (not that I would have thrown food into the river for him!) and he suddenly disappeared.
After lunch, I went to the Activities Center to see about some Zambian activities. I passed on the bungee jumping from the bridge over the falls, white water rafting, a helicopter ride, walking with lions, walking with elephants. I opted for a safari walk (you walk for a while and then they drive for 3 ½ hours. I also opted for a sunset cruise along the Zambezi, hopefully to see the animals. There are no promises, but we may see hippos surfacing, elephants coming to drink, lots of birds, crocodiles, etc.
I decided to go into Livingstone ($10 for a taxi there) to the craft market to shop. He dropped me off at 4 and I told him to come back at 6. He told me I could pay him then.
Trusting or what? He also gave me his card to call him. When I told him that I didn’t have a phone, he said people would be very willing to help me out.
The craft market was two city blocks. I forgot how stressful it can be to have every merchant (usually young women or young men) try to steer me into their little shops. Over and over again, I heard, “Mother, where are you from?” One fellow had a map of the US on his wall so I could show him where Wisconsin is. Jewelry, wood carvings of different animals, stone carvings, fabric, paintings, drums, bowls, baskets, on and on.
If I went into a little shop, the person would always tell me that either he, she, or someone in the family had done the carvings or made the earrings out of bone. I noticed, however, that there were many of the same items in a lot of the shops. In the very last one, the woman explained that the women get together to make the earrings and teach women in the prisons so that they can make them and get some money.
I found a giraffe with eyelashes, an elephant and a hippo carved out of the roots of the teak tree and very very hard. I did my Christmas shopping for friends and family. A lot of the vendors would tell me, I have two items for you for 10 Katcha (that is $2!)
I was exhausted physically and emotionally (all of the vendors said that I was their first customer that day and couldn’t I buy something for them to take back to their village!) by 5:30. I waited for Victor, the driver, to return. After a while, a fellow asked me if my ride was late, and then offered to call Victor for me, which he did, bless his heart.
When I got back to my cottage, I realized that there is no phone. I have no alarm with me, so I walked back to reception to see if someone could wake me up at 6 so I could get ready for my 6:30 a.m. pick up. No one will be here until 6:15, but she promised to wake me up then. I’m hoping that, if I go to sleep early, I’ll wake up on my own.
I had the chicken and pineapple salad for dinner and got two bottles of water so that I’ll have something tomorrow morning. I asked about a sack breakfast to take along with me. Since the only option was a cheese and tomato sandwich or a cheese sandwich (I don’t eat cheese), I asked if I could get fruit. Yes, I could. So I have two apples and two bananas for my breakfast tomorrow.
I had my shower under a trickle of water and I’m ready for bed. It appears that there is possibly a wireless connection here, but I don’t have the password. If I get one tomorrow, I’ll send this then.