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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Zam!

I'm finally getting back to posting about the amazing vacation we took in June. After Jacana, we went to Livingstone, (as in Dr. Livingstone I presume) Zambia. To get from Jacana to Livingstone, Zambia, we took four flights and then ended up at a real airport, meaning not a dirt air strip, called Kasane. At Kasane we went through customs, "checked out" of Botswana and were told to wait in the lounge for our pilot. We waited for just a few minutes and then a representative from Wilderness Safaris came over and introduced us to our pilot. I think his name was Steve. You'd think I remember that since Mr. Deep's name is Steve...I mean Stephen. 

Steve walked us out onto the tarmac to the plane. It was just the three of us. There was no co-pilot or flight attendant. Steve asked about our travels thus far. When he learned we'd been flying around in the small planes for the better part of a week he asked us if we wanted to recite the safety spiel to him. We did, he filled in a few gaps in the information, and we were on our way. I sat in the front with pilot Steve and Mr. Deep sat behind us. Steve told us that since we were the only passengers he would take our flight over Victoria Falls so we could get a good look and then he would take us to Livingstone Airport. 

I think I have somewhat of an overactive imagination. While we were flying, somehow, I got the idea in my head that maybe Steve wasn't a real pilot. Although he obviously did know how to fly as at the time I came up with this notion we were already in the air. So I thought that maybe he was a real pilot but not the pilot we were supposed to have. Do you ever have these strange paranoid thoughts? A few things made me wonder. First, the lack of a co-pilot and the fact that we had had one on all of the other flights. Second, he asked us to recite the safety briefing. Was this because he didn't know it? Third, would a real pilot with a schedule volunteer to fly us over Victoria Falls? Didn't he have something he needed to do? Fourth, and most alarming, he was wearing street clothes. I couldn't say anything to Mr. Deep about my theory because I wasn't sitting next to him. And since I couldn't come up with any motive as to why Steve would pretend to be our pilot if he really wasn't, I just told myself that I was crazy and looked out the window. Of course he was the real pilot after all and we had a wonderful flight to Livingstone and some great aerial views of Victoria Falls. 






When we landed in Livingstone the airport was empty. We went through customs and got our visas. At the time, we thought we wanted to also visit Zimbabwe so we got a multiple entry Zambian visa. We later heard the falls viewing was better from the Zambia side (not always the case but this was the story when we were there) so we didn't end up visiting Zim after all.  

We boarded a bus (again we were the only passengers) and were taken to our final lodge Toko Leya. Toko Leya sits on the bank of the Zambezi River. Toko Leya was a good re-entry into semi-civilization. There were no restrictions on electricity meaning my hair straightener could make a triumphant return. And, after a week of being cut off from any news or communications, there was wifi in the lodge. Mr. Deep wasn't too excited about that being he was on vacation from work but I was excited to check Facebook and what'sapp chat with my friends and family. 


Toko Leya Lodge
During the orientation we were told that at Toko Leya we didn't need to wake up until 7:00 a.m.! We had been waking up at 5:30 at Chitabe and 6:00 at Jacana for our morning activities so 7:00 seemed very luxurious. 

Shortly after arriving at Toko Leya we met Godfrey, our guide. No, his name didn't contain any B's. Godfrey took us out for our first afternoon activity, a boat cruise on the Zambezi river. Even though there were other guests staying at Toko Leya we had Godfrey all to ourselves AND he was more than happy to talk about birds with Mr. Deep. On one side of the river is Zambia and on the other side Zimbabwe. We saw lots of great wildlife which I will post shortly. Below are a few photos from that first river boat cruise. 




The next morning we planned to take a helicopter ride over the falls and then visit the falls on foot. We headed to breakfast and ordered the special, huevos rancheros. Being American Mr. Deep and I love Mexican food and any time we see anything remotely Mexican on a menu we are going to order it. But it was a bad idea because the huevos rancheros took forever to make as the chef was clearly not Mexican. After 30 minutes the food finally came out out but the eggs were raw and we had to send it back. Meanwhile Godfrey was waiting to take us to the helicopter and so we were getting stressed. Finally, we ate and met up with Godfrey. 

I have a trait, one that I don't love about myself, where I need to point out when I am right and when something is not my fault. I don't know why I need to do this but I do. I am working on it. Anyway, I felt I needed to tell Godfrey why we were late because it was important to me that he know that we are not tardy people and that we did respect the schedule he had created for us. I tried to explain the situation with the the huevos rancheros but Godfrey said not to worry about it. I don't even know if he caught the part about the huevos rancheros so I again tried to tell him. I am still not sure that he got it. He told us that because of the delay he would drive us through the town for a tour and then we would take the helicopter ride a bit later. After the helicopter we would visit the falls on foot. 

He took us through the town of Livingstone. He showed us schools, the hospital, a market, disco and more. Zambia has been an independent nation since the 1960's and it seems to be doing pretty well. Godfrey said government corruption is not really a problem. The town of Livingstone is doing particularly well because as Zimbabwe continues to falter, Zambia and specifically Livingstone has become the tourism centre for Victoria Falls. 


Maize meal for sale at the market
Beans!

Lots of pretty fabrics. They gave us a piece of fabric when we left Toko Leya but I gave it to Christine since I don't sew.


A tray of eggs selling for 27 Kwacha. That's about a $2.70.
This is the wall protecting a school. To prevent people from coming over the wall they stuck broken glass into the cement. 



We then headed for our helicopter tour. More about that and our trip to Vic Falls on foot in my next post. 


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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have moved from the U.S. to South Africa for three years. We moved due to an exciting opportunity my husband had with his job. Second, I won't be working anymore. I'm actually not allowed to work so that will be different given that for the past twenty years I've been somewhat of a workaholic. I'm excited to share our adventures with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.