After Celebrations had finished it was time to depart Zambia to head back home to South Africa, this time via a 4 day road trip through Zambia, Botswana and back into South Africa. To make the most of daylight driving hours we hit the road at 5am on Thursday morning. A lunchtime stop in Lusaka consisted of my first espresso coffee in 7 weeks (it was AMAZING!) and a final taste of the best gelato in Zambia (and possibly Africa entire) from Gigibonta’s (Big call I know but that is just how good the gelato was!! I can only hope they might open a franchise in SA next!). We also found ourselves Chicken Schwarma (nothing compared to proper Israeli Schwarma from the Jewish quarter in the Old City) but not entirely too bad at all. Road trips are all about food after all…aren’t they?! 😉
At around 6pm we arrived in Livingstone where we would spend the next two nights in cute little tents, with 2 beds, a side table and most importantly electricity to charge our phones 🙂 by the banks of the Zambeze River. Just beautiful! For dinner we found a nice seafood place in town for all manner of fish, prawns, calamari and chips etc. More food I know! But in the context of it being rare to eat out these days, these moments become extra exciting and very enjoyable! The company was also very enjoyable! In addition to our road trip crew of 7, Leyton and Clinton (fellow Aussie’s) also arrived into Livingstone that evening and joined us for dinner and the following day.
The drive back to SA is a solid 3 days drive, however for this trip, the group decided to take an extra day on the Friday to spend the day in Livingstone and see Victoria Falls. Words and pictures do not really do the falls justice. The sheer size, beauty, magnitude of the rushing water and the loud sound, not to mention the spray which saw us completely drenched through entirely and dripping by the end to the point we could ring out our clothes!
We spent the afternoon bargaining at the local market to pick up some Zambian souvenirs and then headed to our dinner cruise on the Zambeze River to watch the spectacular sunset over the water! And to spot a few hippo’s. One thing I miss very much about home is being close to the ocean and all the beautiful rivers in the Sutherland Shire, so it was so relaxing and refreshing for me to be out on the water even for just a couple of hours!
From Livingstone we made yet another early start to cross the border into Botswana and continue on our journey. A highlight was taking the ferry across from Zambia to Botswana. Our two cars were loaded on first followed by a MASSIVE truck. It was a little concerning watching just how low the ferry sunk into the water as the truck rolled on. And how much water lapped over the front of the ferry as we crossed the river. We did make it though!
Botswana was beautiful! Going to put it out there as one of my favourite African countries so far. Whilst driving through we saw elephants, giraffes, ostrich, pumba’s, and SO MANY donkeys and cows. At times it was quite the minefield to drive through! As evening came on we witnessed the most spectacular African sunset I have witnessed to date in my time here. Postcard perfect sunset over the flat wide plains of Africa with the token Acacia tree. All that was missing was a couple of giraffe’s! Another evening camping in style, followed by a very smooth and fast border crossing the next morning into South Africa saw us on the final leg of our journey to arrive home Sunday evening. LOVE African road trips and BEST road trip crew ever – thanks Daytona, Cat, Ashley, Byron, Diane and Alicia for all the fun times and GREAT memories!
We arrived home to a 5 day countdown to Tommy and Morgan’s wedding. Tommy is a long-term volunteer with Hands at Work from the UK, and Morgan is a long-term volunteer with Hands at Work from Canada. They met at Hands at Work a couple of years ago now (in fact around the time I was here in 2011) so it was wonderful to be back in time to be able to celebrate their wedding with them! In the week leading up to the wedding we had a Bridal Shower for Morgan, which was an afternoon of High Tea at a beautiful lodge up the road. We also had an African Braii Rehearsal dinner, where all the guests dressed in traditional African wear. And Saturday was the big day! We had quite the rain and thunderstorm Saturday morning which made set-up a little challenging. However by the time the ceremony started at 2pm the rain had stopped, and what followed was one of the most beautiful weddings I have attended to date!
An impromptu afternoon drive to Grasskop occurred on the Sunday following the wedding. Grasskop is approximately an hour and a half’s drive from where we live. A tiny tourist type town with spectacular views of the mountains and valley’s surrounding the area and famous for Harries Pancakes (and the pancakes were very good!). It was Alicia’s last weekend in Africa, one of our fellow February intake volunteers, so of course to finish her time here she wanted to experience The Big Swing. Little did I realise I would be roped into this when agreeing to go on the road trip 😉 However, it was INCREDIBLE! We were planning to go tandem on the swing, because normally you can go two at a time side-by-side. However on arrival we were advised that we were not able to go tandem this particular day. Due to the heavy rain the prior day, the rope had gotten too wet. Being a dynamic rope, it stretches too far when wet, so tandem jumping was out of the question this day. I have to say, this little conversation did erode my confidence in the ability of the rope to safely drop even a single person. Did I mention we prayed pretty hard before jumping! 🙂 Anyway you stand on the edge on this rickety wooden platform, back to the valley, heels over the edge. The guys gives the countdown 3, 2, 1 and then you fall backwards. You fall about 70m straight down before the rope takes up the slack and you swing back through the valley, right in front of a magnificent waterfall. It was breathtaking in all senses of the word!
Just a brief overview of some of the adventures from the past couple of weeks. Now its time to get busy doing some real work! This week holds lots of meetings to start to shape up and find out more of what my longer term role will look like here moving forward. Watch this space 🙂