Our Fastjet plane touched down in the Zambian capital on 21st July. Our airport pickup was 200 qwacha ($28) and after thirty minutes or so we were at the colourful gates of Paseli Backpackers as recommended by our Slovenian friends we met in Zanzibar ($42 for a private room). It wasn’t supposed to have a private bathroom but it did, however there were no lightbulbs. The manager arranged for a guy to come but we were hungry so we left after giving our washing to the ladies working there.
We confirmed the route and found our way to Levy Mall, which was so modern and clean it was easy to forget we were in Africa. We passed through and out the other side towards the main bus station. It proved to be an organised chaos there, with people walking every which way between the vehicles while others insisted on helping us. A young lad led us to the right office, a wooden shack just outside the main building, and surprisingly did not ask for money. We bought the tickets for the blue bus company called Khondwani to Livingstone, near Victoria Falls.
We started walking back to the shopping centre befote Mark realised the Freedom Statue was in other the direction. We turned left back to the government offices where we saw the monument. It was a nice statue of a man breaking his chains. A few metres further was the Lusaka National Museum and we went inside ($5 each). We popped in the cafe and bought a few drinks and soon I was feeling better. We saw a man in a suit eat a huge metal tray of fish and rice with just his hands. The art section downstairs contained a few nice African paintings but most of the galleries were upstairs. The first exhibit we saw was a screened off area to protect children from the gruesome images inside. I was a bit reluctant to enter at first and soon we were joined by a museum guide. He explained that the cordoned off area was to tell the story of three brothers who visited a witchdoctor and then went on a killing spree of over years before they were gunned down recently by the police. He took us round the other exhibits about their independence in 1964, their presidents, their flag and symbols, and early tools and decorative beads. The most interesting parts were the thatched mud huts and waxworks showing traditional life in the villages. Another highlight was the copy of the Broken Hill Man skull, a very early find from Zambia that is now held in Britain, in the Natural History Museum. Another man then appeared with photos of when he saw it in London. Needless to say Zambia is fighting to get it back.
We wandered back towards the hotel, stopping in the posh supermarket in the Levy Mall to buy some food and a bottle of white wine. Then near the hotel we stopped once more to buy Mark a pie, and some more supplies from the supermarket. Our light was still missing so we chased up the manager and eventually the repair man arrived and fixed it, but by then it was dark. We had some of our goods then had an early night.
We rose early and checked our clothes but they were still damp. We waited for the women to return and fold the clothes for us but they were late so we did it ourselves. We took a taxi to the bus station ($5) and boarded our bus. We were surprised to hear that we would be leaving a little late as we were waiting for a Scottish film company who had booked ten seats. They said they may want to film us a bit but they had some free drinks for us. It turned out it was Griff Rhys-Jones filming a programme called Slow Train Through Africa (to be shown ITV early next year). We shook Griff’s hand and we spoke a bit to the sound man and the director. They had a few other vehicles that were traveling with the bus to get ahead and take shots from outside and to carry equipment. They did a bit of filming about Cecil Rhodes and David Livingstone on the bus, and then some filming of Griff getting off the bus and wandering around a roadside market. He was nice enough to pose for a photo with us. We discovered that they film for six weeks then get five days back home, and do this maybe eight times to film the programme. They left us behind at one of the rest stops about half way along our route, to take the train to Victoria Falls.
We pressed on and Mark ate a chicken pie and scrambled egg sandwich and I had a large, meaty sweetcorn from one of the numerous street vendors trying to sell foodstuffs through the bus windows. The road was pretty good and tarmacked all the way and we rarely had to turn off to use dirt roads. It was single-laned but had proper markings and a hard shoulder. On the way we stopped in quite a few rural towns, and saw many villages comprising solely of mud huts.
A few hours later we pulled into Livingstone.
It was a short but very interesting experience.