South Luangwa NP to Livingstone
We had to drive all the way back to Chipata to rejoin the main highway to Lusaka. There is a short cut but it involves two river crossings (without the benefit of bridges) which are do-able in the dry, but not in the wet season with the amount of rain we have had.
But driving back meant that we had to negotiate the deep water-filled holes in the dirt road that we had encountered on the way to Croc Valley. Of course, they were good photo ops, so Thiemo went through first and, armed with the video camera, directed us where to go through the water to get some great footage.
Now, Thiemo had no problem getting through this deep patch, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. His car had been raised so had better clearance, and also did not possess a tow bar. We started off through the hole and suddenly our tow bar caught on a submerged rock in the deepest part of the hole. The car hung up with the back wheels off the bottom of the hole - and we went nowhere. The water was up higher than the bottom of the door, and as we sat there, water started to seep in onto the carpets. After some fruitless attempts to extricate ourselves, Thiemo got out the tow rope, hooked us up and pulled us out.
We drove on; mud or not, we had a long way to go to our next stop. A new road hazard presented itself - we had contended with donkeys, goats and cattle, not to mention countless bicycles and people, but now we had small pigs running everywhere on the road. We saw children sitting down under trees in front of their houses, breaking rocks into gravel with their mothers - free primary education is available for the citizens but education is not compulsory. And school children in uniforms walked to school with books under one arm and a small hoe over the shoulder. Butchers plied their trade in the open air, with cuts of meat strung up on string lashed to two poles in the ground. "Brother Willy's Seed Depot" was open for business in one village, the "Only God Knows Grocery" in another. And we wished we could have stopped at "Santa's Nest Bar and Restaurant".
We passed a big bus which made us realise how few vehicles were on the road - so few trucks, buses and cars, but no local minibuses. And the villages were far apart and very small (Zambia has the lowest population density in Africa) - we wondered how people got around.
At Bridge Camp, we could see Mozambique across the river and dined on Hippo steaks. They were beaten to tenderise and then fried very lightly and quickly. They were delicious - just like veal, though it was pot luck whether you got a tender piece or a somewhat more chewy one.
And so on to Lusaka after a huge all night thunderstorm with lightning that seemed to be interminable. We passed a tsetse fly checkpoint where we were obliged to stop for a check. A delightful, smiling man came out of his hut by the side of the barrier holding a small butterfly net. He walked around the car, peered inside then cheerily announced we could proceed. Butterfly net in hand, he opened the barrier and waved as we drove away.
In Lusaka, we encountered the high walls with barbed wire around them reminiscent of houses in Joburg. But the roads were good, 4 lanes wide, the traffic calm and there were shopping centres and businesses aplenty. When stopped at lights, we have always had to ward off the myriad numbers of street sellers tapping on the window and selling incredibly diverse goods. But one took the cake: in one hand he had a sealed, therefore new, box of Scrabble and a small bicycle tyre; in the other he had 5 bathroom plungers.
The campsite allowed us to start the process of trying to dry the car out after its mudbath. Not to mention drying out the tents and associated gear from the thinderstorm of the night before. Just as we had everything in the sun, nicely drying out, the sky darkened and within minutes, the rain bucketed down...