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The Long Road to Livingstone

Posted by on February 19, 2012

Last night we couldn’t sleep. This town was alive with the pumping music of drunkenness. All through the dark hours of the eve they celebrated in their shebeens.

Today there is a lack of the usual silence and shame that follows a Saturday. From early in the morning their church buildings have been echoing with the songs of jubilant worshippers. It seems Livingstone is as much religious as it is joyous.  And they praise as loudly as they drink – or they at least have as many churchgoers as they do drunkards.

It was a welcome site, the mist of the falls in the distance and the security of quality shops and good accommodation. The drive here was everything but comfortable and our exhausted bodies struggled through the city’s celebration until dawn.

If not for the battle we had fought to get here, we would be in those shebeens drinking their Mosi and smoking too much. But not tonight, not after we spend six hours on the road, covering a mere 200km from Katima Mulilo, in Namibia, to here.

Roughly 5 minutes after entering Zambia the first thunderstorm hit us and the heavens opened up – a wet welcome to the country.  Already soaked we took refuge with other villagers until, like magic, the storm blew over to reveal the scorching heat synonymous with most of Africa.

We had hardly gone far when we broke down. Thankful that the storm had passed, but cursing the sun, we spend an hour next to the road fixing the fork of the rear wheel.   Walking for miles on end the villagers passed us on their way to god know where, greeting us with shimmering smiles and offering help. Their kindness made us feel more welcome in this country where we have had nothing but bad luck.

By 15h30 we were driving into Kazangula when the rains came again. Faster than the bike broke, the sun disappeared and loud thunder rung a final warning for us to get this ridiculously small bike off the road. Soon the potholes where filling up with water. Again we waited it out and again the rain seized and the sun appeared, as if it had been shining all along.

We tried once more but yet again we failed.  Today we were going nowhere in a hurry.  We had gotten closer to Livingstone but the journey was far from over when the throttle handle of the bike broke off. Once more we baked in the sun, patching the motorbike which we had subjected to so much punishment already.

Another three hours later we had fixed the bike, driven through a swarm of stinging insects and a national park, when we drove into this town.

It has been the toughest day we have endured so far and simultaneously the most fun we’ve had. We didn’t celebrate last night and we didn’t praise the lord this morning but we are singing a song of our own… the Eels said it best; “hey man, now you’re really living”.

After almost 2 hours on the border Zambia welcomes us with a thunderstorm looming.

The hellish, but fun 200km to Livingstone_00016

Shelter from the storm

The hellish, but fun 200km to Livingstone_00011

Broken down, the first time…

The hellish, but fun 200km to Livingstone_00018

And the second time.

The hellish, but fun 200km to Livingstone_00003

But we made it to Livingstone!

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