May 10th, 2000 - May 31st, 2000
(this page is under construction)
Normally when I (Jim) write these diary entries, I try to stick to the trip and detail our adventures and our resulting mindset. I find it impossible to begin that way with Zambia. First off, this is the phase of the adventure that I'm doing alone. Paw around the OE site and you'll get the details, but essentially Kathy is pregnant and has returned to the United States to begin pre-natal care. I feel guilty about not being there with her, but as she puts it, this is my last chance to play for a while so go enjoy it. So much of this stage of pregnancy is internal, and I do have to admit to feeling powerless at times to help her feel better. I miss Kathy deeply, but also relish this chance to explore a wild part of Africa on my own.
What differs most about this part of the trip is that instead of my mindset being derived from the travels, the travels are derived from my mindset. There are things I will do alone that I won't do in a group, even one as small as two. With Kathy back in the States, there's a deep emptiness within me and I find myself doing things to help fill it. Much of it is my longing for Kathy; she is much more a part of me than I could ever imagine, and to have her away is to have misplaced pieces of the puzzle of life. Perhaps it's a bit of not working for over a year, and my energy reserves that for years were wiped out by Abacus Concepts are coming back. Toss in a bit of homesickness and season with my already fractured soul and maybe that explains the stew that follows. Read on and you be the judge.
Blast from Cape Town
When one make a long trip in Africa it's best to get an early start. For a few days now I've stayed with my friend Martin Holland and his wife Gigi in a suburb north of Cape Town. With my alarm set for sunrise, not only does the morning greet me with the day's first few rays of light, but it also serves up a flat tire along with my morning coffee. Spot's right front has lost all its air, so much of my evening's shower is negated as I change the tire, and not only am I starting a bit late but now I'm making a 4500 kilometer African trek with only one spare.
One of the things you learn when traveling around Africa is that when you leave a big city such as Cape Town you want to go shopping. It's your last chance to get stuff you won't find in the bush. Me? I stocked up on wine, cheese, chili beans, spices and munchies. It was a bit tough dragging my 400 Rand grocery load back to the truck alone, but well worth it. My passenger for the trip north, Martin, met me at the backpacker's lodge Cloudbreak and once we had Spot packed up we were off.
There are many possible roads north, but the woes besetting
most of South Africa's northern neighbors allows but one trouble-free route:
cut through the heart of the Karoo, enter Botswana near it's capital city
Gabarone and then drive north along the Zimbabwe border and catch a ferry
into Zambia. The route appeals to me as it doesn't cover much ground I've
already seen and it allows me to swing through the town of Kimberly and
see the world's largest hole dug by human hand (left). De Beer's, the diamond
cartel, got its start in this vein that miners followed for over a kilometer
deep into the earth.
Along with the hole De Beer's has preserved most of the mining equipment and has even saved all the historic diamond rush buildings that made up old Kimberly. Arranged nicely and filled with tons of era furniture, appliances and personal items, it made for a fascinating stroll though my grandparents' era.
Martin, however, remained in the parking lot. He says "I don't like
old stuff." Even when I was twenty-two, I enjoyed seeing how those
who came before me worked and played, so such an attitude is unfathomable
for me. Martin is a bit odd in other ways as well, as he has come to Africa
with no research or preparation and declares he intends to bring no cash
with him and pay for everything with plastic. Upon hearing this I pull into
the nearest supermarket and force him to withdraw a thousand rand (about
$140) from an ATM. You can't head into Africa's interior without cash. Period.
Dollars are indeed preferred, but he should be able to make do with Rand
in most of southern Africa.
Somewhere in the middle of Botswana it begins to sink into Martin's brain that traveling in Africa isn't quite the same as touring Europe. Despite my urging back in Cape Town, he hasn't brought a tent or sleeping bag and since leaving South Africa has been sleeping in Spot's shortened rear seat. Our evening in Nata, Botswana found him wandering around outside the truck at midnight while all around the lions started roaring. I asked him that don't you think it might be wise to get in with all the lions about and he replied "Lions? I thought that was people snoring." Uh-huh.
Our entry into Zambia was through the truck ferry at Kazangulu, near Kasane. Used by truckers to avoid having to cross either the Zimbabwe or Namibian border bridges, the ferry operators were happy to let me sneak Spot to the head of the line and fit aboard with the next truck going across. The crossing is tricky, as while the Zambezi is narrow here the current is quite fast, but the operator handled it flawlessly. The only bad part to the crossing was as I approached the ferry the left front brake started making that sickening metal on metal screeching every time when applied. I see I have some work for me when I hit Livingstone.
All in all, I'm quite relieved to hit Livingstone. Four days from Cape
Town is pretty good with one driver traveling during the daylight hours,
and I'm not happy driving around with lame brakes. It also gives me the
chance to dump Martin at a backpacker's lodge. He's got a lot of growing
up to do, and I really would prefer to have travel companions who are more
independent than he.
10.5.00 Cape Town to Britstown
11.5.00 Britstown to Gabarone
12.5.00 Gabarone to Nata
13.5.00 Nata to Livingstone, lose left front brake
14.5.00 - 16.5.00 rebuild Spot's brakes, impromptu pizza on the 16th
17.5.00 Play tourist and visit Livingstone museum and Zambian side of falls
18.5.00 - 20.5.00 Jungle Junction, overlanders
21.5.00 Pizza party
22.5.00 - 23.5.00 Hendrix paints Spot
24.5.00 Get ready for road tripping again
25.5.00 Drive to Lusaka
26.5.00 Get visa for Tanzania, play
28.5.00 Start late, shop SA style, drive to Bridge Camp
29.5.00 Take "shortcut" to South Luangwa
30.5.00 Truck day, relax, nightdrive with leopard sightings
31.5.00 Drive in park twice, campfire pizza night