This last week I had the great privilege of greeting my “first” guest and one of my favorite people, Terra, here to Zambia even though she’s been here more times than I have! I crammed in a multiple choice test and 4 essays in two days just so that I could hop on a bus down to Livingstone asap to greet her and her padres.
At 3:30am Sunday morning, I got up and had Wes drive me to the bus stop downtown, aka, the sketchiest time and place to ever get on a bus BUT I’m all about experiencing everything at least once. Just picture florescent lighting scattered with personal fire pits for warmth, add a dash of chaotic voices yelling at you and grabbing your stuff and nondescript buildings that are supposed to sell tickets. This is the “bus station”. So, once we found the bus service we wanted, I stood in line to get my ticket after several people tried to pull me to their “stations” as Wes parked the car. I got my ticket for K140 ($14) only to have Wes come up to me saying that someone had put a lock on the car and required K60 to have it taken off…of course. Muzhungu’s for the win!
I got on the bus about 5:30am, leaving Wes behind to work while I played, and took off for Livingstone. The bus ride included several pit stops to pick up random people on the side of the road, running over a green mamba and nearly crushing a chameleon. Thankfully, I arrived alive, contrary to all the current bus accidents recently (don’t Google it), at 2ish and couldn’t have been happier to see my beautiful friend waiting for me. I probably smelled rank but she still embraced me. She had a wonderful week planned for us complete with viewing the falls from the Zambia and Zimbabwe side, playing, feeding and walking with lion cubs everyday, a jungle cruise and having high tea like old English travelers like from A Little Princess or Tarzan at the Royal Livingstone.
We stayed at Mukuni Big 5, which is owned partially by a white Zambian named Basil and the Mukuni village chief aptly named The Lion King. Yes, as in the Lion King movie which he claims was named after him. However, I’m gonna bet that there are about a 1,000 other Lion King chiefs spread out all over Africa. Basil also happens to be best friends with Terra’s dad, and is one of the most fascinating men I’ve met. He has several amazing stories from fighting in the Rhodesian war, having lions, warthogs, baboons as pets in his house, as well as defending his property in Zim from the government that wants to take white farmers land without permission and usually with gun force. Needless to say, I’ll be keeping in touch with him and hopefully jotting down some of his stories.
After Terra and I painted the town red and gold and green and orange and yellow, it was time to pick up Wes the following Friday from the bus station. Wes had to work that Friday, so he took a later bus at around 2:30 and was scheduled to arrive in Livingstone around 8pm. We arranged a taxi to take us down to the “station” and we began to navigate the many arriving buses scouting for the giraffe at a horse party. Instantly we were bombarded by people trying to get us to buy bus tickets, offering taxi rides and other nonsense. I simply told them I was looking for my husband who was arriving. For some reason this spark a huge rumble because before I knew it, everyone was shouting, “She’s looking for her husband!” At about 9 and still no Wes, I promptly went to the bus booth to ask if they knew where the bus was to which the guy replied, “Oh if they don’t make it to Livingstone by 21 hours, they stop where ever they are for the night until 5 hours.”
Say what?! What kind of rule is this?! I quickly asked if they had the phone number of the bus driver. So the guy then proceeds to walk around the area inquiring for the number which seems unprofessional and unorganized but TIA. All the while, I’m panicking because I have no idea where Wes is, what’ll happen to him if he stays the night on the bus, and about a million other thoughts. 20 minutes later, the guy gets ahold of the bus driver saying that the only ‘muzhungu’ on the bus got on a taxi to Livingstone. A bit of relief flew over me only to panic again realizing that now I have no idea what his taxi looked like, if he was planning on coming straight to the bus stop or to Mukuni Big 5. Oh and if you’re thinking, why don’t you just call him Briana…yea that would only work if his phone wasn’t dead. So I’m navigating this situation blindly, trying to guess what Wes would have done, getting into his head which isn’t easy. So for the next hour, Terra and I walk around to the arriving minivans and taxis looking for Wes, all the while, everyone is shouting, “She’s just looking for her husband!”
At 10:15pm, we are about to go back to the lodge, thinking he went straight there, only to have a van pull in and I see a pale figure clamber out of the front seat. Never had I been so happy to see him in my entire life! Truly, I could have been so pissed about his phone having died, not warning me his phone was dying or the fact that he hadn’t communicated with me in the last 6 hours, no, I was just so happy that nothing had happened to him and he was there in one piece. Apparently, on Wes’ end, it was theorized by the several stranded passengers on his bus, that the driver had a girlfriend in one of the towns, so purposefully went slow so that they’d be forced to stop there at 21 hours. This unfortunately screws the passengers and Wes had to pay and extra K50 to get to Livingstone in a taxi. So overall, if you calculate my trip with the lock and Wesley’s trip with the added taxi, his trip came out $1 cheaper, although his trip was about 4 hours longer than mine.
All in all, a terrific trip to Livingstone with great friends, old and new, human and furry!
*Check out my Livingstone pictures!