Monday, 29 January 2007

Dr. Livingstone I presume?

The plans to drive to Namibia were cancelled as B was needed at work this week. Instead I would have to fly to the capital myself to extend my visa. Of course all the last minute flights were booked on the days we wanted and it was looking rather dismil until I wondered to myself – what does African Jungle look like?

Enter Dr. David Livingstone.

I arrived in Zambia at lunchtime on Monday after flying through summer storms and over lush, fertile, tree covered land. I’d booked accommodation at Chanter’s Lodge which was very basic, but clean with friendly staff and good management.

Richard the owner of Chanter’s suggested an itinerary of walking around the Vic Falls, followed by lunch at one of the river side hotels and capped off with a Sunset Cruise.

It costs US$10 to enter the falls area and I followed each of the 3 walking trails as I had time to kill. I could hear Dad’s voice rousing me for wearing such a ridiculous outfit walking: knee length skirt, polo tee and thongs! But I wasn’t expecting walking so hadn’t packed anything else. I had to take it very slow in my thongs as I descended at least 150m though the palm trees and lantana bushes. I was heading to the Boiling Pot, the first of the rapids. At this time of year, when the river is at its highest, it’s so rough that even the white water rafting boats have to launch further down stream. I didn’t actually make it to the Boiling Pot because the path was being flooded by a fast running stream and I just thought it would be really dumb to get washed into the river. So instead I sat on one of the small bridges with my feet in the water and tried to recall whether flesh eating Piranhas were native to Africa or Latin America.

The best $2 I’ve ever spent was on hiring a raincoat. I wasn’t going to ‘waste’ the money, but when I saw they took Euros I thought – why not use my spare change?

Remember those old school cartoons where the little black rain cloud, isolated in the sky, floats over to directly above your head and then just pours down? Well its not make-believe. The most ridiculous hiking outfit just became the best! I stood there on the middle of the viewing bridge for over half an hour, like a child playing in puddles. I alternated between euphoric pleasure from being surrounded by rainbows and giggles at all the wet Englishmen in their soaked runners and ‘water proof’ rain jackets.

Activity 2 was lunch. Entry to the park allows you to visit the two main hotel properties, so off I went. The orange faux Morrocan style of the Zambezi Sun kept me walking to the famous Royal Livingstone. This place actualizes every Out-Of-Africa, Safari dream you’re ever had. I was in heaven and could only begin to image how exotic it must be for those tourists on their first trip to Africa. Rolling green lawns leading down to the wide, fast flowing Zambezi (pronounced; Zam-bear-ze). Zebras wandered between the groves of trees which were dotted with outdoor loungers and hammocks.

Spot the Zebra

After finishing my Frangelico & Lime on ice and the weekend’s New York Times I pulled myself of the most scrumptious couch to make my way back to the Zambezi Sun where I heard the prices weren’t so ridiculous. But after taking in Livingstone’s original maps, black and white photos, feather covered reading lamps, and an eclectic mix of chairs covered in botanical print fabric I spotted two tables covered in the tiniest pastries, quiches, sandwiches and patty cakes – obviously made for some royal princess. I sadly made my exit and then my heart skipped a beat as I saw the sign inviting guests to a High Tea.

You know where I spent my next hour.

Just as the afternoon down pour came to a pitter-pattering end I headed off to the Queen of Africa Sunset River Cruise. I had low expectations, imaging some old worn out boat with a fancy name ripping of all the foreign tourists because they don’t know better. Luckily I was pleasantly surprised. I sat on second desk sipping my G&T and eves dropping on the conversations around me.

Next to me were a group of Frenchies, bejeweled in gold elephant necklaces and bangles who didn’t even touch the complementary food. A very friendly English couple who enjoy hiking and have been to Africa on numerous occasions (Pat will be emailing me his photos of the Hippos). Then there was the couple softly speaking Spanish, I was trying to get in some practice but all I could hear was the woman exclaiming “Mono, Mono” (monkey). And of course, not wanting to, I could hear everything the group of US travelers were talking about at the other end of the boat.

So we drifted off into the sunset. I raised a toast to Chef who was that same day competing in France in the famous Bocuse D’Or and to mi amor, friends and family who I wished were all there with me.

Friday, 19 January 2007

Off to Namibia

Unfortunately, because my Visa runs out on Monday and I can’t have it renewed here in SA, B and I have to drive to Namibia on Sunday.

It’s a long way, a very long tiring drive for Barry. The positive is we’ll get to spend some quality time together before he leaves on his 3 week business trip. But really overall it’s just a hassle that takes him away from work and adds more stress in an already very busy week.

Please keep your fingers crossed that I have more luck with the Customs staff in Namibia than Susan had in the UK.

Also, just to keep you posted. I’m pleased to announce I’ve been offered a second interview for my dream job next week.

Christmas Day

After the morning's church service the family gathered at
Nutwood Gardens for the Great Unwrapping.

(Note: New shoes and dress, from B)

Some of the gifts I received included:

an insulated hot pink water bottle; a weeks holiday at Bakabung; a camping chair; perfume; place mats; a coffee mug, coffee and chocolate biscotti gift pack; a gift voucher; tangerine body-butter.

I also ‘did a Barney’ and bought B, as part of his gift bonanza, two Putamayo Global Music CDs; Afro-Cuban & Islands.

Playing house with Tara’s new camping table

Aunty ‘Line wishing Mum a Merry Christmas

Preparing Salmon with Sweet Potato mash for lunch (B had steak).

Even Jack had a good Christmas

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was hosted by Tara as she was introducing Charles' family to the Solomons.

We enjoyed a garden braai of ribs and chop with Tara's famous Meringues with Choc Sauce and Berries for dessert.

The soon to be engaged - Charles and Tara.

I just adore this Christmas decoration from Namibia.

The fan moves naturally from the hot air rising.

Practising their "Blue Steel" look.

Dad - look at the size of my Rib!

Too much Egg Nog!