2011
11.01

STUCK ON THE STONE

13 and a half months on the African road and we have slowly but surely crossed over from the ever-so-amazing Zimbabwe into the unknown of Zambia. Country number 5. People are still confused when we tell them its been 13.5 months here and we’ve only progressed as far as Zambia. Some people think we must have travelled from north to south to only be in southern Africa after such a long time. But everyone we have met here at Jollyboys backpackers, Livingstone understands the beauty of travelling slow through Africa.

Its been a big comfort for us roamers to have a home for over 6 weeks. To meet up to 100 people from all different places with different stories on different adventures. To celebrate farewells every 2nd day and have reunions with those who have left us and returned days or weeks later. To have locals (who are convinced we can’t leave here) look for plots of land for a house to build on. To learn the names of the 30 staff that work here. This is Jollyboys in Livingstone – and we are stuck on the stone.

There are many reasons we have been reluctant to leave this place that sucks you in so quickly. For me, initially it was the amazingly well-stocked shop-rite. When I first walked in – I was blinded by lights and heard the heavens open up in a chorus of “ahhhhhhh”. After 3 months of average smooth, salty peanut butter – I found a full shelf of Yum Yum crunchy peanut butter (which definitely lives up to its name). Nick tried to shuffle me along quickly as I slowly walked up every aisle, lovingly picking up products like the sweet thick soya sauce I so miss with my fried eggs and toast.

When I first started writing this entry,  I signed off with “After 9 nights, we know its time to leave since all our friends have left us. Plus I’m exhausted from the farewells”.

44 days later and we actually did leave – after many failed attempts.

After 9 days our water pump went, leaving us stranded 35 km out of Livinsgtone and waiting to be rescued by Des our new local mechanic.

After 20 days we had adopted a pet flapneck chameleon and couldn’t bear to leave him behind. Sidmade it easier for us when he disappeared one day while sunning in a tree. We did not have the sad goodbye, but we did have a few sad days of desperately scouting trees and enlisting the staff to help find him and make sure he was safe. This in itself was incredible since many locals are afraid of Sid due to his magical powers, creepy walk, his ability to look forward and backward at the same time and the poison you would ingest if you so happen to eat Sid.

Sid really deserves an entire entry just for him – for his sociability, sweet nature and his ability to snap up 30 flies in a single day with his quick moving tongue. Sid wasn’t always a sweetheart though – after a couple of days, and a couple of grasshoppers that Nick had hunted down for him he went on a hunger strike choosing only to eat grasshoppers. Sid also has us worried sometimes – If he didn’t poo everyday between 10am-12pm – we massaged his belly to aid his digestion.

But Sids’ sudden departure still makes me sad so I won’t say much more.

After Sid left us, we wanted to leave Jollyboys. But that didn’t happen.

We decided to stay an extra week to celebrate Johns Bday Party on Bovu Island.

To pass the time, I got the best haircut of my life (thank you Melissa!), we did filming at the 5 star Royal Livingstone Hotel – where we were forced to drink cocktails and gorge on a buffet breakfast. Torture. We felt like movie stars arriving with a camera crew and waiting around for them to bring in the zebras and giraffes for filming. Life in Africa was getting tougher.

After 25 days of being stuck on the stone, we spent an amazing weekend on Bovu Island – sand between the toes, mokoro rides to the rapids and lots of hats and booze. On the drive back from the island, our car backfired numerous times and when we reached Livingstone after sunset we stalled in the middle of the busiest intersection. We had to wait 5 more days for our distributor to be fixed, which meant we were only a couple of days away from the start of the Kayak Festival along the Zambezi. In addition, the day we had planned to leave (after a serious meeting we held to determine our departure date) I got food poisioning and spent a whole day laying in the cushion lounge, the most comfortable and closest place to the toilet. Surely that’s a sign.

In addition, the Rugby World Cup played an important role in the delay of our departure. When we first arrived at Jollyboys wewere there in time for the last few pool games of the Rugby World Cup. Whilst we had planned to be in several different towns throughout Zambia for the quarters, semis and finals, we never made it. Nicks argument was that it would be 4 yrs again for this moment to come around, and here we had the good fortune to have a TV playing the Rugby World Cup 24/7. Ok, we could stay till the end. Its not like I was suffering at Jollyboys. The Final fell on day 35 of our Jollyboys stay.

To pass the time waiting for the festival to start and the Rugby World cup to end, we became friends with Zig Zag and Trinity from Yes Rasta – local entertainment at Jollyboys and Wasa Wange.

They invited us over for lunch – chapatis made of wholemeal flour, beans and lettuce. We later crossed the railway tracks to the ghetto for a true Rasta jam session. We learnt much about true Rastas and their peaceful nature. And we thank them for their music and creativity. Rastafarite, more fire!

When the Kayak festival started on day 36 of our Jollyboys time, Nick did some photography for them. He would be rafted down the river to wait at a rapid or took some shots from above Rapid no. 5. In this time, we had decided we would leave mid festival, time was now getting tight and the rains would be coming soon.

However, after another serious meeting, we again decided to stay for the end of kakak festival celebrations (because we knew how hard the kayakers would party), and since Halloween was 2 days after that – we stayed for our first ever Halloween party. And since Jennys 2nd Trivia night for a good cause was the day after Halloween we stayed for that too.

But it was there we drew the line. That’s when we finally left. 44 days of being stuck on the stone and we had to kick the habit.

When we look back on our last 44 days I could never say it was a waste of time, of lying by the pool and serious ping pong games (although we did do those things). We did so much more, and met so many fun people.

We walked across the top of Vic Falls to Devils Pool, a pool right on the edge of Victoria Falls 108m high. You get to jump into this pool, and lie across the ledge which pours down to the gorge below. Out of the hundreds of activities available to tourists, this was our only activity we did in Livingstone. Every person we met at Jollyboys was sold the Devils Pool experience.

We celebrated in the main street when the Zambian election results were announced. From afar we could hear gun shots and people chanting. We were in Africa, typically election results left people unhappy and rioting. In Livingstone, at 2am we walked a nervous friend to the bus stop, along the main street.

We were met by thousands of Zambians parading up and down the street chanting “Don’t Kubeba” (the new presidents slogan, representing a peaceful campaign), cars and trucks piled in with people hanging off doors and out windows. The locals were celebrating with excitement and happiness. Change was coming to Zambia and they were thrilled and inviting us to celebrate with them. Peaceful elections in Africa – it would be nice to hear of more of those.

We spent 2 days at Magalela Village in the sticks for a local village wedding filled with colour, dancing and 2 giant drums ofNshima. I even got to wear my matching head scarf and top made from Zimbabwean material.

We went out to the top of the gorge twice for sunset, the 2nd time we got to watch the full moon rising whilst snacking on mopani worms.

We jet boated past rapid no. 25, spinning so much and going so fast that I puked.

And we said over 100 new hellos and goodbyes.

Although we spent much time talking about leaving Jollyboys, we spent much more time having fun there.

To everyone I have met, I think you are all incredible for the short or long time you are in Africa, for the 1 country or 10 countries you have seen, for the friendships and good time.  You have all made my Jollyboys time Jolly and I hope to see you on the African roads again.

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  1. Hi N&Z

    Word is you made it through Liuwa and onto Lusaka according to a Phil Jeffreys who caught up with you magically, and reported back on progress. Great going – that was quite a mystery route with the threat of serious flooding.

    We’ll hope to maybe catch up again in Malawi later in Jan.. lets us know when ur settled.

    Robin & Ana

  2. Thanks, guys! It reads amazing. I could laugh and cry reading it, smile and mourn. And i absolutely know about not being able to leave this place, though i also had one different reason :D
    Anyways, i can’t wait for playing waterball games in another swimming pool, wherever it will be, with you. Take care on the road and enjoy yourself traveling and meeting people!
    My lovely regards to you!
    Stefan

    P.S. Zulfaa, your haircut looks beautiful!