Zambia - Livingstone
Thu 25 Sep
Time for moving on; the daily trip to Livingstone was at 1000 and Albert came for the ride. Albert is an Israeli who seemed to be taking a year to travel from Nairobi to Cape Town. He’d got to Bovu island a week or so before, and so far had felt no need to move on. He was working to a very tight budget and was sleeping in the library (a large open sided rondavel) rather than paying for a hut or a tent. He would shake his head in disbelief whenever I talked of how quickly I had moved on from place to place or how much I had spent. He had been in Zanzibar at the time of the festival and was very complimentary. I liked him and on parting gave him my maps and guidebook for Namibia and South Africa.
On the road to Livingstone we saw a scene that sadly I didn’t photograph but have looked for another chance ever since. Imagine if you will a burnt out chassis of a minibus sitting beside the road under a tree full of people! It was somewhere shady to sit I guess?
In Livingstone I was presented with my bill for two nights on Bovu. As I still only had US$2 worth of Kwacha, they kindly gave me a lift up the road to find an ATM. The largest bank note in Zambia at this time was K10,000 (although a K50,000 was about to be launched). Can you imagine how many you need to pay for accommodation or train tickets? The ATM dispenses a maximum of K400,000 at a time (40 notes making US$80). This is also about the most you can comfortably fit into a wallet. I got two loads.
Fawlty Towers turned out to be very a comfortable, tidy, spacious guesthouse with large gardens and a swimming pool. It was lunchtime when I arrived so I ordered a chicken ciabatta sandwich and went for a swim. After, as I sipped a chilled beer I watched two lily-white girls (gap year students) gingerly lower themselves into the cooling water – evidently they had been on the African Queen sundowner cruise the night before and had only just got up (complaining of slightly sore heads!) One, I chatted to later was Cecilia, a real babe who was also very complimentary about the Zanzibar Film festival.
I soon discovered that although Livingstone is a significant Zambian town, and that internet access sounds cheap, it can still be slow and expensive when you’re on a shared dial-up connection to Lusaka. No broadband in the internet cafés yet (despite press adverts saying the technology is now available).
I bought some provisions and realised it would be useful to have a shopping basket to carry them in. I used a cardboard box from the shop and wondered into the local souvenir market. It was quite amusing to have such a specific requirement, I was offered carved elephants, batiks, wire model aeroplanes and all sorts of things the prices dropping fantastically as I walked on. I saw lots of things I liked but no realistic or affordable way of getting them home. Unfortunately I didn’t find a basket either.
In the evening I took a taxi to "Annie’s steakhouse" only to discover no one knew it by that name and carelessly I’d set off without my map. It was a restaurant with the option of eating inside or out, European or African, and was frequented mostly by middleclass Zambians (men wearing ties, carrying car keys and mobile phones). Once I’d eaten, one group invited me to join them. They enjoyed telling me about each other. Mostly they worked at the Central Hospital, one responsible for Health and Safety, another for nurse training. A third, who seemed to be called on his mobile most often, had some responsibility at a district level for many things. He was cagey about naming his job but he professed to know the full ins and outs of the Kasangula ferry disaster and what the government were going to do about it.
Zambia - Livingstone