From Zimbabwe to…

It’s ok children….. your mother did not disgrace herself on her night out. Loes and I went to The Boma…a very african restaurant. On entry we were given a colourful wrap to wear and escorted to our table and complimentary zulu beer. Our dinner consisted of african fare…warthog, ostrich, kudu, and accompanying salads etc. There was entertainment in the way of drummers…fantastic !. Then the audience was given a drum each and “taught ” how to play. We made a mighty sound with approx 200 people playing drums at once. It was a great night out. Our last in Zimbabwe.

We met our next group and crew….11 ( predominantly german again ) and proceeded on a VERY LONG trip from Vic Falls to Lusaka in Zambia. The roads are very long, bumpy and dusty !!!!!. Its really looking like a third world country at this point. The following day is also long on our way to Chipata.

We are on our way to South Luangwa NP. On the way we have an electrical malfunction in the truck. Sparks and flames are shooting out of an appliance. We make a stop on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere. Within minutes there are 3 children coming out of the bushes…then 2 adults and 2 more youngters. One of our group, who has medical experience, notices that one of them ( a teenage girl we later come to know as Ruthie ) has a badly infected foot which she says ( in her limited english ) that she got as a result of a snakebite. We try to pool our medical supplies to help clean her foot but it is quickly apparent that she needs hospital care or she will lose her foot, if not her life !. Her older sister says they have no money and the doctor is too far away ….a typical story here in Africa. So we arrange to pick her up on our return 2 days later and take her to the nearest hospital…….the day arrives and I really would be surprised to see her waiting. The group has made a commitment to pay her costs and see that she is treated. We are nearing the place we first met on the side of the road and…..THERE SHE IS ! And the whole family. Ruthie and her sister, Sara and her baby are dressed in their best clothes. They are all smiling. They climb on the truck. Sara asks me to open the window….I thought because she wanted fresh air. But , no, it was to wave to people she had obviously told about what was to happen. On the side of the road also was an old man whom she told me was her grandfather. This experience for them would be one of a kind, thats for sure. It took one hour in the truck to drive to Chipata Hospital. It was a sunday so the doctor was not there. We paid the money directly to the hospital for her treatment and made arrangements for her to be seen the next day. They had family to stay with for the night so we also gave them money for food and transport back home.

We will never know what happened to Ruthie but we made a commitment to help her. There are many people here in her position and if it had not been for the electrical malfunction that day, we would never had met her. Just hope we helped save one life along the way.

South Luangwa NP is AMAZING. The wild life is abundant there. And not from a distant. We had lions walking along side the jeep one night…totally uncaring of our presence. The following night there were 7 lions sleeping on the side of the road. I took the opportunity for some great photos of course. We were instructed not to walk anywhere at night in the camp as it is within the park. Wild animals simply wander through the camp at night. This is truelly the african experience when it comes to wildlife. With one exception…..frogs and ghekkos in the bathroom !!! I dont like the feeling of creepie crawlies around when Im sleeping but I have to get used to it.

Now at Luwawa Forest. While socialising at night we strike up a conversation with an english girl here doing her PhD. She is also volunteering to help at a local school and asks if we would like to visit. After making arrangements with the one and only teacher ( for 83 pupils ) a few of us do the visit. It is totally impromptu and not an arranged tourist thing. What a total eye opener. The classrooms have dirt floors and the kids sit on the ground. A small blackboard leans against the wall and the sun comes through holes in the roof. Heartbreaking…..but…they are so happy ! This is their world and they know no different. Off to the side there is a small group of men building 2 new classrooms. This time in brick which they make one by one by hand. Two women collect water in containers which they carry on their heads. This is to mix cement. All the work is done by hand….there is no fancy machinery here and no running water. No other teachers will come here because of the conditions. And who could blame them. We take details for postage and say we will swend little things to help them. I have some bubbles again and the kids squeal with delight when they fly into the air. Such simple pleasures but they get so much delight. This is part of the cultural experience that Africa is.

Along the road is a village and I ask to stop and visit there too. There is an old man and he is delighted for us to see around his home. He speaks no english and has barely any teeth left but smiles profusely. He shows me his new house that is being built. It is of bricks but cant be finished because he cant afford it. The chickens run everywhere and without thinking, he puts his hand into a nest and produces 2 eggs which he has great pleasure in giving to me. I feel a little guilty accepting them as he needs the food but it would be offensive to refuse. And he holds my hand in both of his and insists I take them so I thank him. Such beautiful people here.

We have a few days of relaxation at the moment. Kande Beach in Malawi is devine and so peaceful. There is a local village just outside the compound and we are invited to do a visit and partake in a local dinner . The walk to the village takes half an hour and its sooooo hot and dusty. I dont think I will ever get my feet clean again !! We have kids hanging off our arms and chattering away. We visit another school but it is in stark contrast to the previous one and we quickly decide which one we prefer to assist !! Then off to a hospital room where pregnant ladies have their babies. The biggest problem here is malaria and mossie nets are needed. But when we leave and notice the medical assistant is able to afford to smoke…again we see clear.

The dinner is in the dark seated on a mat . Parrifin lamps stink the air. There is no power here. We have sweet potato soup, goat, fish, wild spinach, rice and casava. All this is cooked by the grandmother of our guide. Its quite nice but Im really cautious. A small group give us some singing and dancing entertainment. Because they know I am kiwi, 3 youngsters do the haka for me !!!! Imagine that….and they knew EXACTLY how to do it. How gorgeous is that !!! Apparently some other kiwiws taught them how to do it. We are invited to get up and dance with the children as our teachers. Great times.

I am at Chitimba Beach in Malawi at the moment. Its another beautiful spot. Tomorrow we make our way into Tanzania en route to Zanzibar….cant wait.