Today was a travel day. We left Zebra Guest House at 7am for the drive to Livingstone, and we are all excited about the fun weekend activities planned! And we are not carrying any packed lunches as the students voted to be adventurous and try getting lunch along the way.
Many of us slept during the drive, although the bumpy roads kept some of us awake. The roads are way better than most roads in India though! We did have some excitement along the way. There are police checkpoints where vehicles have to stop and last year, at these check points we were just waved on with no questions asked. However, this year at the first checkpoint Pearson was asked to pull over and show his license. Then he stepped out of the bus and had to speak to the police officer. We don’t know what transpired…..
At the second checkpoint we had the same process repeated! This time Pearson returned with a paper and we asked to take a look at it. It said “Admission of Guilt” and as far as we understand he paid a fine of 200 kwacha because of something about his driver’s license (we speculate that it may be expired).
At the third checkpoint, we were asked to pull over yet again! This time the police officer came in the bus and asked each of us to show our passport. However, he was a young man and very pleasant and said “Don’t worry, you haven’t done anything. I just want to make sure your papers are in order”. I think we were all relieved!
So, we passed the towns of Mazabuka and Monze and reached the small town of Choma at lunch time. Pearson parked the bus and led us to a small restaurant where we ordered our food and decided to eat it on the bus. Although a small place, the people were friendly and they found us forks to take (Zambians eat their nshima with their hands). So food was ordered and we carried it to the bus and kept going. Several students tried nshima and liked it!
We reached Chanters Lodge at 3:15pm and Mr. Chanters was there to greet us – I remembered him and he says he remembered me too! Anastasia was also there (I do remember her from last year also!). It is fun to get to see the same people from last year! We were assigned our rooms and went to them #1), and we were also told that there was no wifi L In fact Mr. Chanters told us that the wifi problem was nationwide and was due to a problem with some fiber optic cable! Hmmm – made me feel a little better about the problems at Zebra Guest House – maybe it was not their fault after all? Mr. Chanters had arranged for each of us to get a voucher for 1 hour of internet through his “iSpot” connection and handed them out. He sure is thoughtful and takes good care of his guests!
Then we had a bit of confusion! Read on…..
First Pearson told Christi that he did know where he was staying the night! Hmmmm – last year our driver Emmie knew what arrangements had been made for him and there had been no questions…. So, I called Uncle Abel and explained to him and asked him to speak to Pearson. After two attempts of phone calls, I guess it was finally worked out, and then Pearson told me that his accommodation was not the problem, he just wanted to know when we needed him! I was so confused!
We all also had to order our dinners, because we had decided to eat at the lodge and Chanters is a small lodge that needs to know the orders ahead of time in order to prepare the meals for us on time.
In the mean time our bus was waiting to take us to Victoria Falls, so after all this confusion we got on the bus only to be met with more confusion! Our guide Oliver asked us if we wanted to pay now or after visiting the falls! I told him our trip was pre-paid, but his office told him that was not the case! SO – back into the lodge and we made a phone call to our travel agent Maggy in Indiana. Fortunately she was in the office and immediately gave us her credit card number and said she would follow-up. So, into the bus and off we went to the Falls.
It was a short drive from the lodge and then Oliver took us on the walk. Like last year, I had the same feeling that we started small and then as we kept going it just kept getting better and better! First, we were upstream and saw the river and then the edge of the falls and then a bit more until we finally saw the whole sheet of water and it was raining on us!! It was as breathtaking and amazing as last year and the students seemed to enjoy it thoroughly as we were all soaked despite the ponchos we were provided.
A little bit of gift shopping after the falls and then Oliver drove us back to the lodge. He said he would be coming to pick us up tomorrow to take us to the safari also. We had a short break and then met for dinner on the patio – it was a lovely evening and we had a nice meal together. Then off to our rooms and tomorrow we go to Botswana for the day to enjoy our safari!