October 22nd – Day Twenty Four
Today is the free day on our trip, the day when Jacques, Joe and Charles clean out the truck and make ready for part two, as well as making sure we have enough stuff for the five new people joining us the following day. Because they are busy we don’t have a prepared meal for lunch or dinner – lunch being our own concern and dinner this night being in the Waterfront restaurant as a goodbye to those leaving and a hello to the new people. A group of us decided to head into Livingstone and we managed to get a ride on the Africa in Focus truck which was heading to the Shoprite so Joe could stock up for the coming weeks. It was another late start, we weren’t in town until after 8.30am, and everyone was quickly going their own way to do what they wanted to do. Five of us walked in search of a Laundromat mentioned in the Lonely Planet and after asking a number of different people who each gave us one step in the right direction we found ourselves on the first floor of a rather shabby building asking a man at a counter if his dry cleaning business also washed clothes in a washing machine. It turned out they did have a machine so the discussion turned to price. The price on the wall mounted list was 50000zk for 1kg. We negotiated this down to 15000 for one bag – just over $3 US. Next up was the time. The truck was returning in a few hours and we wanted to have our washing on for the trip back so we didn’t have to carry it around Livingstone. We struck a compromise where the washing would be done but not dried so we could pick it up in time. That done we were all off into Livingstone again.
Next stop for Keryn and I was an Internet cafe where I uploaded the text so far, cleared out the junk guestbook entries on the website (Hi Eleanor, Ben and co) and we both checked email. While there we were joined by Will and Maria who had just come up from a frightening encounter on the street. A drunk man selling sunglasses had accused them of trying on some of his wares and then walking off and had tried to physically manhandle them down to the police station. It took an intervention from a passing tour leader off another truck to get them away and they had retreated to the Internet cafe to calm down. Thankfully none of us saw this menace again.
As much done with the Internet as we could it was down to the Shoprite to get some supplies. We met Jacques, Joe and Helen as they were leaving with the morning shop so helped them get the trolleys up to the truck and then unloaded. We had been joined by an entourage of boys who had to be excluded from the truck surrounds by Jacques. He dragged his foot through the dirt and gravel to make a large box around the truck and made it clear that they weren’t to enter the area while we were packing (well, Joe and Helen were packing with our assistance). One done they were given a couple of bags of marshmallows to take the trolleys back to the supermarket – it was like firing the gun on the Olympic 100 meters dash with the five lads all leaping forward to grab the reward, one of the guys being flung into a trolley with a lot of force. They all seemed happy enough with their marshmallows and trotted off with the trolleys, one of them holding his arm.
After going back to collect our now mostly clean washing We next went down the street to find something to eat and look for another Internet cafe to finish off what we couldn’t do earlier. Anne got some money out and we then found a place with Internet that worked OK. I was just about to finish uploading photos when there was a quick power cut, losing work for myself, Kathy and Sharon. Once power was restored, servers back online and clients enabled I finished what had been lost and then we were out onto the street once again. Anne, Keryn and I set off to find the local curio market and after finding the local market (i.e. the one that sold items to the locals rather than curios to the tourists) and then talking to a few people we were directed to a taxi which drove us on to the market we were looking for which turned out to be only a couple of hundred meters further down the road from the Internet cafe. Wandering the stalls we were invited to see everyoneâ€™s wares, most of which seemed to be only minor variations from the previous and next stalls. We stopped at one stall and eventually bought a stone carved hornbill for a little under $5 US with a little wooden leopard thrown in for free. We spent a bit of time at the next stall learning how a game was played when Kathy arrived, here and Sharon having finished at the Internet cafe. We found Anne and departed the market to find a taxi back to the campsite.
Across the road there was a taxi stand and we negotiated a price to take all five of us back to the Zambezi Waterfront. The journey was quick and we were soon at the campsite gate where we paid the driver and walked back towards the truck. Kathy was walking along when she stopped having realised she had left her bag in the back of the taxi. Discussions with the gate staff and people at the campsite reception left her feeling a little bit helpless as there is no central lost property store for the taxis and she would be relying on the drivers good nature, hoping he would return the bag once he realised he had it. It all came right in the end, the driver contacting the campsite and promising to call by later in the day. Kathy and Sharon went back into town rather than wait and the other taxi drivers at the place opposite the market remembered us all and gave Kathy the drivers mobile number. He was contacted and the bag was soon in Kathy’s relieved hands once more. While that was going on Keryn and I had lunch at the restaurant and then had a few drinks while chatting to people at our table. It was then back to the tent to hang up all our still wet washing. We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and speculating on the identities of the new people who would be joining the tour the following day but whom we would be meeting that night.
Over the course of the afternoon and then evening dinner we met three of the five. An English couple, Cathy and Trevor as well as Rachael, another English woman, were at dinner. The other couple were an Australian pair who only made a brief appearance as Bindi was feeling ill so her and Corey wouldn’t be joining us for the meal. For me dinner was a low point of the tour. We were having a buffet meal which we hadn’t expected and it was also later than we had asked. The set 60000zk (about $13 US at current exchange) meal was rather lacking in options and I didn’t think tasted that nice. Some even refused to eat one seeing what was put out for us to select from. We had to pay in Zambian Kwacha and the exchange rate they used was terrible, less that what was advertised at the desk they were sitting at. No amount of complaint seemed to make those taking the money do anything other than smile at each and reply with glib lies about bank rates. I wasn’t impressed. After dinner we all said our goodbyes to Lyn and then Keryn and I were off to get washing in and then turn in ourselves, the next morning being an early rise so we could go on a Lion Encounter activity across the border in Zimbabwe.