Saturday, 27 April 2013

Livingstone, Zambia


After 3 nights of chilling out, chatting to people, going out and generally not doing much in Lusaka, I took a bus to Livingstone. There I would be meeting Torsten whom I met in Tofo in January. He dove with us a couple of times and he came to my snorkel test. Apparently we met another fellow, Matt, but only after I had emptied my snorkel. I don't remember anything from after that point.

Road gang
I asked Shawn, the manager at Kalulu (which means rabbit in the local language) about the buses to Livingstone, and he told me I had to book. New information, as the previous I got, was that I could just show up and buy a ticket. He tried to call one company which they always use, but they didn't answer. As it was getting late I decided to go the following day. Shawn told me he would call them again and book for me later in the day.

The following morning I woke up early and got out quickly. I was intent on getting to the bus station quite early as they might leave without me otherwise, I was told. It wouldn't be the case, because they run on schedule. In any case, it was a wise choice, because Shawn apparently didn't call them, and I booked the last available seat there and then.

Biogas digester diggings
In the bus they gave us a newspaper for 2 and then a snack and a drink. When we closed into Livingstone I was getting excited about seeing the place again. I very seldom come back to a place I have visited before, and I had good memories here. I remembered all the things we did and the good times we had spent with Vincent, Irka and J├╝rgen. When we drove along the road I recognized more and more the layout of the town which is quite small.

I met Torsten and his friend Matt, who arrived the same day, that evening in Jollyboys where they had a drink. He told me to call him the following day to arrange a visit of his project which was a bit out of town. I sent him a message the next morning, but he only answered later that he had had a busy day with some problems on the construction site but that I could come and meet him at his salsa course that night. Around 6 I went out to Cafe Zambezi and met him and some of his friends from the salsa course. When it ended, Julia, a South African, that doesn't look like a South African at all, drove us back to our respective resting places. We dropped Torsten first, so I saw where his project was happening. Elefants come visiting quite often in the evenings now, but we didn't see any on that occasion.

Croc at biogas dam with people walking close by
The following day I decided to walk down to the construction site. It took me about an hour with a stop on the road where some road gang was putting up electrical poles. I chatted a little while with one of them, and took a couple of pictures with the promise to print them out and bring them to them the following day. To that day I still have the pictures in my stuff, as I didn't find them again. When I arrived at the gate of the project site, the cook came to it and I asked him if Torsten was there. He said he thought he wasn't but that I could come in anyway. I asked him again and he said he didn't know, maybe he was somewhere around. The guys from the road gang had told me they had seen him drive by on a bike, so I thought he should be here. Everyone seems to know Torsten around here. I went to the holes where I found Torsten. So he was there after all.

Shima with Kapenta and coleslaw salad
They are building 3 underground containers which they will feed with hyacinths from the ponds. The hyacinths will then rotten and in the process, release a usable biogas. They had dug out the second out of three holes, and were about to lay in the foundations when the wall crumbled down on one side. This put them back at least two days. The Zambezi being quite high still, the water was soaked to about 1-2m underground. Some was even flowing into the hole freely from some underground source. I walked to the ponds where I saw the hippo, a baby crocodile and later an adult crocodile. How they will collect the hyacinths without being eaten by a crocodile or run down by a hippo, I don't know. And Torsten doesn't know either yet. It has to be simple, and if possible with as less engine as possible. The digesters will eat about 5 tons per day or week (I don't remember) he told me. At lunch he shared his shima with kapenta (small fishes) and coleslaw salad with me. After that we walked around to the village that would benefit mostly from the digesters and went to his house there. From there we came back and I left for another horizon.

David Livingstone Hotel
I walked down to the waterfront where there are lodges and hotels. I went to see the David Livingstone Safari Lodge where you can reside for no less than USD 800 a night (or something completely aberrant like this). It is a beautiful but impressively huge building with a waterfront pool on the river. I didn't even dare to take a beer there of fear of the high price. Talking about it later, we came to it, that it would cost about KR 25 for a bottle of Mosi or Castle. In town the current price was KR 7-10 depending on where you get it. So I walked out again and went to the Waterfront Lodge where we camped at the end of our camping safari in 2010. I drank a beer that cost me KR 12 on their deck bar and fooled around with my camera taking self-portraits. From around there I tried to get a minibus taxi back to town, but it probably was a staff minibus. It was the first time I was told the minibus was full. There's usually always room for more. So I walked back trying to hitchhike on the way back, but without success as nobody wanted to stop. Then I saw this compound and I thought I could go and see if I could buy some local beer there. I met a few guys with whom I drank some Chibuku. It's quite a cheap brew as you will get between one and two liters for KR 3. Then you drink it passing on the container to the next person. It's usually served in a cut open 2 liter plastic oil bottle. In some cases they serve it in tin cups. This particular brew was quite tasty and, as I would discover later, better than the commercially available Shake-Shake. Chibuku is a thick local beer made of maize and sorghum. It's completely unfiltered and its smoothness depends on the brewer. It tastes a bit sour, where some are more sour than others. Its alcohol contents is about 5% but its effects are lessened by the heaviness of the brew. Larry whom I met there accompanied me to another compound where I could buy some Shake-Shake tetra-packs.

Drinking a Castle at Waterfront
Later I met Zig-Zag, an artist who paints the walls of Jollyboys Backpackers. He uses it as a big advertisement board for his work, but gets the paint from the backpackers. He travels quite a lot around the worlds when he's got money and has even seen the Northern Lights from Norway. His paintings are painted with completely different styles and some are really beautiful. He had an exhibition the previous week from which he sold about 25 paintings. But he doesn't want to show those paintings to the Jollyboys public.

Brick-master's boy from Nsongwe
On the following morning I agreed to go on a “free” village tour with Elver. He said he could show me his village for free. I told him nothing was for free when he asked my why I didn't go the first day. He then explained that the apart from the transport expenses, I could just give him what I thought was right in appreciation of his job. But that's always a bit tricky as you never know with how much he is going to be happy and how much is definitely too much. But seeing as an unskilled labourer gets KR 20 per day, I had a starting point. We took a shared taxi down to the falls from where we walked to his village. It wasn't really close and it took us probably about 30 minutes to go there. Once there we walked around and he showed me a village which was really widespread. I saw the house where his family lives. He explained some things, but not with many details. And he didn't tell many interesting facts. He is actually quite a poor guide. But it was interesting anyway. We spent some time in one of the villages shebeens or bar drinking Chibuku (I don't remember the local name). Then we got a lift and a taxi to Mukuni village where we drank some 7-days beer, which is browner, smoother and had a yeasty taste.

Drinking chibuku in a shebeen in Nsongwe
When we came back to Livingstone we went straight to Cafe Zambezi because there was to be another salsa course. The students were there but the area was occupied by tables with customers. So the students, including Torsten, decided to drink out their beers and go out to see the lunar rainbow at the falls. During and close after the rainy season when there is still a lot of spray, you can see a complete circle rainbow when the moon is full or close to full.

We went to buy a family meal at Hungry Lion and came back to Jollyboys to consume it. I told Elver he should consider building some traditional houses and host tourists. It could be an “authentic” experience for the traveler looking for the African Spirit. He told he had thought about it, but was looking for interested investors. I told him I was interested and we started making some plans. He told me building houses could be done for about USD 100, so the budget should be quite low according to him. But then we started putting together all the things that would be needed to accommodate foreign tourists. Even if they go for the traditional experience, they still want some comfort. So included a toilet and shower facilities, a self-catering area and so on.
One of ZigZag's wall paintings
We didn't even calculate what a bar would cost so far. The total price would be at least ten times as high as he thought. When we talked about employing people for the cleaning, I asked him his advice about how many people he thought would be needed to clean and laundry eight houses. He said two people per house. What they would be doing the rest of the day after having finished cleaning the house for about an hour, I don't know. So I said maybe one or two for the eight planned houses would be enough, and asked him again which number would precisely be accurate. He answered that one or two would be fine. I told him I expected him to give me advice because he was supposed to know how local people work, and so on. So he said two people would do fine. When asking him why he couldn't answer. He was annoyed with my questions, and I was annoyed that he couldn't answer them. He definitely wasn't the partner I was looking for. We went out that night and the following morning, instead of going to see his elders at the village, I told him he wasn't what I expected of a local business partner.

Jollyboys, currently my office
So instead of checking out, I booked another three nights and got one for free because I would be staying more than a week. After that I would go to Lusaka and from there to Malawi.

On Friday night, with a bunch of young German ladies "Die Oshivambo Bande" (and one guy), and basically the rest of Jollyboys' residents, we went out to Livingstone Backpackers and then Fezbar. There I met Webby, a guy I had previously met in Kalulu in Lusaka and Torsten as well. Coming home around 4 am we went to the kitchen and ate some cheese and toasts. After that, we went to remove Janin's bag that was still on her bed. Unfortunately we woke up the whole dorm of 16 (or so we fear).

On Sunday afternoon we went to Lubasi home for orphaned children. Each Sunday there's a football game between Jollyboys residents and the children. They are young, quick and trained. Just by looking at them we thought we would be losing the game. But after a long, sweaty match with the sun in the eye, we managed to win 5-4. But it was a tough game. We had to assets, one was Steven the American and the other, Emma the Swedish girl who played quite well. I mostly assured defense by sticking to one guy or the other that came too close to our goal. All sweaty, tired and for some sunburnt (not me) we returned to our backpackers and took a shower.

I managed to drop my wallet in the cab, and thought it had been stolen while it was lying on the bed. Luckily the cab driver was honest and brought it back a while later with everything still inside. Thank you. I gave him a nice tip.

Today is going to be Vic Falls from Zambia with two Texan girls I just met the other day. I seem not to be able to leave this place.