Thursday, December 13, 2007
I am safe and sound, at last, in Livingstone Zambia. On Tuesday I hitchhiked from Windhoek to Grootfontein. Then, in a marathon bit of hiking I made it all the way to Katima Mulilo on the Zambian borders yesterday (in extremely overcrowded Ford Ventures whose drivers insisted on playing Thimbukushu Pop music full blast and blatantly ignoring the 3 meter signs that consisted entirely of a giant triangle with an exclamation point in it and one word "ELEPHANTS.") This morning I took a taxi from the backpackers where I spent the night to the border, which I walked across. Nothing makes you feel quite so much like a refugee as walking across an African border carrying everything you own on your back. I managed to rebuff the moneychangers (it's not a good idea to change money with random guys talking in fervent whispers and holding wads of cash just outside of border posts.) While I was inside the Zambian Customs Station (which sort of resembled an impoverished 19th century schoolhouse, well scrubbed oak tables and neatly kept, hand printed registration books where I had to neatly pen my name.) it started raining, no, actually the proper word is pouring. The taxi pulled right up to the bottom of the stairs outside the customs house and in the two seconds it took me to get inside I was soaked to the skin. When we crossed the Zambezi river it was raining too hard and I was too busy trying to keep the front windshield clear of fog, that I didn't even notice. The taxi driver let me off in the town of Seshike. So, without a kwacha to my name (I paid in Rand) I boarded an overcrowded bus and here I am, in Livingstone. In Dark Star Safari Paul Theroux says that traveling is like going back in time and that's what this place sort of feels like. You have the muddy streets, the vibrant street markets, the decaying old buildings, and the beggars, crazy people, street performers and other random people vying for your attention. If Namibia is what the Germans imagined Africa to be, properly ordered with schedules and neatly lined streets and little German frau dresses everywhere, then it sort of makes sense that this is Africa as the British imagined it, muddy and sort of disordered with everyone sort of going about their own business. I stay here a few days, then on to Lusaka and beyond. Finished Middlemarch on my crazy hike. Seems a little strange whilst barreling past mud and reed huts and tropical rainforests, but whatever.
I'll keep you all updated.