Some Days Are Best Forgotten.

I know many readers of my WorldRider adventures and discoveries secretly or overtly wish they were in my shoes. The romance of exotic places, the lure of unique cultures and the carefree wandering across varied landscapes. I know. I dreamed about doing this trip for many years. However, sometimes it just isn’t what it’s cut out to be. Take today for example.

With my business finished in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city I avoided the raucous rumblings and traveler chit-chat at the ChaChaCha Backpacker’s bar and hit the sack by 9:30 last night, a solid plan so I could easily rise for a 6am pack and 7am departure. Today’s ride would take more than 8 hours to cover nearly 400 miles. Before crawling under my mosquito net the four Norwegian nurses who were bunking in the hut next to mine, and who strongly suggested that Norway should be on the WorldRider route and itinerary, so much that they gave me some of Norway’s finest chocolate and a deck of cards each with a different scenic picture of their country, confided with me that they each were suffering a bit of a tummy bug that had them taking numbers for the toilets. I suggested it would last a day and they’d be fine. Who am I to suggest. They’re the nurses.

It was about midnight when the toilet called my name. And then about six times during the rainy evening I tromped through the courtyard to the shared bathrooms. I became more and more dehydrated. The water I drank went right through me. Fast. And each visit to the bathroom I wondered if this rain would ever stop. Although I’ve ridden in so much rain, I never get used to it.

I was packing before 6am and securing the dry bags to the bike by 6:30. And then I had to secure that damn tire. I said to myself after carrying a rear tire from San Diego to Guatemala City that I’d never do it again. But the luck I had in finding perfectly matched tires in Lusaka meant I couldn’t pass the opportunity. Might never find tires again, especially given Kenya’s turmoil, I might not make it to Nairobi, which of any place would be the most likely to stock tires for Doc.

When pulling the finally bungy cord tight I stepped back and then smack into a puddle, soaking my foot and sock. With all my clothes packed and secured on the bike and the rain pouring down I decided to wring the sock out and just bear with the wet foot. Bad idea. Cause later that evening after checking into my hotel, the wet sock had waterlogged the bottom of my foot and with the tight boots and some friction, my foot was raw and wore to the touch. Ouch.

I did look forward to a cup of coffee that morning. The road out of town would pass by Manda Hills Shopping Center, home to two bakery/patisserie coffee shops. Nice idea. Bad timing. They don’t open until 8 or 9am. So I simply continued with the rain pelting my suit and helmet. I was tired, hungry and lacked my morning coffee. Not a terrible problem; just a disappointment.

Fortunately the rain let up after an hour or so into the ride. Passing through Zambia’s greenbelt where agricultural products such as maize, potato, tomato, cotton and more are grown, the rural villages with round thatch roofed huts set around a central living space were seductively scenic and oozed Africa authenticity. Doc was running good, the fork seal performing as it should and the front brake now seemed operating better as the oil must have burned off.

Riding along the main route from Lusaka to Chipata, was much like the ride from Livingstone to the capital. Hundreds of men and boys riding bicycles, children walking in school uniforms, women and young girls with baskets or jugs of water balanced delicately atop their heads while their colorful clothing spoke to my perception of Africa. It’s no wonder the tourism marketing of Zambia use the slogan: Zambia: The Real Africa. One must be careful riding along these roads as the people tend to crowd the sides and overflow into traffic lanes. After all these people live here and most don’t own a motor vehicle. It’s their road.

After passing my twentieth or thirtieth village compound I decided to pull off and meet the people who live here and to satisfy my curiosity as to what was in the tall thin sacks that everyone seemed to have standing by the side of the road. That’s when I met Teresa and Peter, the headman of his village. Like the boys on bicycles days earlier, Teresa and most everyone else roadside was guarding sacks of charcoal. She had been waiting three days for transport to the market in Lusaka. With no regular scheduled transport she hopes an empty truck heading west will stop. She’ll pay Kw10,000 (about $3) for transport for each sack. She consigned the charcoal from other villagers at Kw15,000. In the market in Lusaka she will sell each for Kw45,000. If business is good she can sell the dozen or so sacks in two days. If not, she might be in Lusaka for more than a week. Then she’ll return and do it all over again.

IMG_3920_2.jpg

The track to Peter’s home and village.

Peter lives with his wife and daughter in the headman’s “Palace”, as it is referred to by the local village people. Reporting to the Chief of the village, which is made up of seventy of encampments, there’s a headman for each one. And each settlement has anywhere from 50-100 families. As headman, Peter is responsible for record keeping. Births, Deaths. Marriages. And crop data. Peter was as curious about the United States as I was about his village and their system of law, order, commerce and family. “Do you have charcoal for sale in sacks in America?”

He, Teresa and the secretary for this compound, Avarice agreed to let me shoot photos. So I removed my spare rear tire from the bike and pulled out my big camera.

Peter toured me around his Palace compound showing me the round hut used for stores (corn, sweet potatoes, convassa, etc.), the kitchen area and eagerly explaining things as we walked around. “Have you seen these, Allan,” he asked picking up a shallow woven bowl filled with 1 or 2 inch dried dark critters. “They’re caterpillars, and their delicious.” They pick the caterpillars off the trees, boil them in water with salt and then dry them in the sun. It’s a snack. He offers me to try while throwing a few in his mouth. I grab one and bite it in half. Hmmm. Salty. Not bad. But it’s a tough thing to get over. I’m eating a caterpillar.

IMG_3930.jpg

Peter and his wife in front of their thatched hut which serves as their kitchen – only a small fire pit inside and a few bottles of water on a moist dirt ground.

IMG_3943_2.jpg IMG_3917_2.jpg

Teresa sits and waits patiently by the side of the road hoping that one day a truck will transport her and her consigned charcoal to the market in Lusaka – several hours drive away.

IMG_3935.jpg

Dried caterpillar. Yummy. Peter shows me the snack delicacy of his village.

IMG_3941_2.jpg

Sure I’ll try. Never had caterpillar before – let alone a dried one. Hmmm. Salty.

IMG_3912_2.jpg

IMG_3918_2.jpg

I told Teresa it’d be tough to load all those bags of charcoal on Doc.

After nearly an hour of chatting and wandering around the village I secured the tire back to the bike and bid my new friends farewell.

About twenty minutes later I look in my rear view mirror and notice the tire is gone. Shit. I turned around and rode back to the village, stopping in another small town and creating a bit of a buzz asking if anyone had seen a tire and handing out my Zambia telephone number to half – dozen kids offering a reward if someone finds it and brings it to Chipata, at the border of Malawi. Tall grass on the side of the road made it impossible to find. Plus, I have no idea where it flew off. If could have hit the road and bounced high and down and embankment or in a river. I was screwed. Not only did the tire cost me about $120, the chances of finding another even remotely similar in Malawi or Tanzania are hopeless. I burned up nearly two hours going back and forth looking for that 130/80/17 Dunlop TrailMax. No where.

IMG_6758_2.jpg

On the road to Chipata I would have enough gas to get to the first petrol station. But having to retrace my steps and look for the tire meant I was soon on reserve. I found these guys in a small village who sold me 5 liters of petrol for 10,000kw/liter a 2-3,000 premium than normally paid at the pump.

Dejected, pissed at my stupidity and tired and hungry I rode on. The massive flooding that caused 50,000 to be evacuated from Zimbabwe had taken its toll on this part of Zambia too. At many places dirt and mud had washed across the road or left debris that would be traction challenging for someone on two wheels. And where one bridge that had washed away, traffic was diverted over a temporary bridge, but getting to it mean paddling through ugly, slippery and nasty deep mud. And you know me and mud… my heart raced as I made my way through the 500 meter mucky muddy mess.

IMG_6768_2.jpg

A bridge washed out and traffic was routed around and over a temporary bridge. The deep thick mud a result of the last three days of rain. A bit nerve racking but I managed with out slipping.

Then I started to get tired. The eyes started drooping and I found myself where I didn’t want to be. On the side of the road. A wake up call. I thought my diarrhea had passed but had a sudden realization when I let a bit of gas out, it wasn’t gas at all. I pulled over. And then was surrounded by the curious eyes of a dozen or more kids. No one asked for money. They just giggled and surrounded me. Since it was easy with no tire to encumber me, I grabbed the camera and started shooting. It made my problems seem a bit lighter. I’ll manage the budget and find a way to buy and get a new tire. The bowel problem will be cured. And with a bit of water and crackers I will ride the next leg awake. Actually, the next 150km were some of the worse potholed muddy mess of a road I’d seen to date. And the attention required to navigate through this obstacle course of a potholed minefield kept my attention and prevented me from dozing.

IMG_6769_2.jpg

Where’s my tire?

IMG_6764.jpg

A bit sympathetic the police were about my tire, at this routine stop they told me they just let cars pass, for the most part, as they don’t want to inconvenience the drivers. Nice.

I rolled into Chipata just as the last bit of sunlight bid the day farewell. And as the only person at Dean’s Hill View Lodge, with my but raw and sore, a near crash experience, my new tire donated to the bush, and the realization that I lost or left behind my Ngepi Baseball Cap and my reading glasses back in Lusaka, I’ve had better days. But here they do have a cold Mosi, will make me a chicken dinner and provide me with a comfy bed and mosquito net.

I just want to forget this day ever happened.

What’s That Oil Leak On My Brake?

With the rain still pouring on Lusaka I contemplated my plans. Ronnie, the South African I rode through the Caprivi, into Botswana and through the Zambian border was staying with friends in Lilongwe and on Lake Malawi. With a plan to get to Dar Es Salaam and then ride back to South Africa through Mozambique, I considered connecting with him again for the ride into Dar. Not ready to jump on the bike after my one night, I booked another night in a private room and began sorting through my plans.

IMG_6754.jpg

Downtown Lusaka, Zambia – traffic.

One of my PIAA auxiliary lights had burned out. Lusaka would be perhaps the only place I could find a 35w H2 halogen bulb. But venturing to nearly every auto/moto parts store in town I found plenty of 100w bulbs and one 50w. Using 50w in those lights could compromise the electrical system. The generator on the Dakar is measly and not well-suited for lots of electrical accessories. I remember in Alaska when temperatures dropped to the point I needed the heat from the heated grips and my electric vest and while cruising a road requiring slow speeds and low RPMs just a few minutes waiting by the side of the road with engine off but ignition on, i didn’t have enough juice to start the engine and required a push start. Not that I envision needing heated grips or my heated vest in Africa, I don’t want to risk battery failure. I bought the bulb but just keeping it as a spare. Perhaps in Dar I can find a 35w bulb.

At one of the stores the owner joined me in the parking lot to check out Doc. That’s when we noticed oil dripping from the front brake caliper assembly. He thought the brake fluid was leaking but after quick inspection I figured it was the fork seal. I cleaned up the oil from forks, brake unit and tire and rode a few miles and then another inspection. Yep. Seems like the left fork seal is blown. And the amount of fluid dripping on the brake made my front brake rather ineffective.

Must have been one pot hole too many. I wasn’t prepared for this. At least I didn’t think so. I shot SMS messages to my friend Hedley at BMW in Windhoek and to Wes in Cape Town just to get some second opinion on what ramifications I’d experience if riding with a leaky seal and low fluid. But perhaps most concerning was the problem of oil running down the fork and onto my brake pads. After pulling out all of my spare parts from the dummy Adventure Pipe exhaust stash tube I found that I did by a second set of fork seals. After Doc sat for eight months at 13,000 feet in the dry harsh climate of the Bolivian Altiplano, the seals had deteriorated and I had to use my original spare of seals. But before returning to Bolivia thankfully I had the wisdom to order a second set.

IMG_6743.jpg

Loosening those seals takes a bit of effort!

I didn’t look forward to changing the seals myself. So I set out to find someone in Lusaka I could trust and who could quickly help me solve this problem so I could move on to Malawi. I was referred to Ray Wilson who owns the only KTM dealer in Zambia — but it’s not his first line of business. After several phone calls and a brief meeting the next morning I followed his directions to the workshop. There is no store front and the workshop and retail room is actually on his residential property. I learned the Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman stopped through here on their “Long Way Down” journey the year before. But to find the store and workshop you need an appointment. The GPS coordinates are S 15.30.749 E 028.16.237 and you can reach Ray at 260-(0)966-766915 – Wilson Off-Road Works – KTM Dealer Lusaka, Zambia.

Dressed in overalls and with a serious demeanor, Charles opened the doors to the workshop and I rode Doc inside. He had been working on the suspension of a Honda CRF250 and there were a few odd Japanese bikes and one KTM. Charles doesn’t ride motorcycles. But he loves working on them. In a couple hours we had the seals replaced. Meanwhile I noticed in the back-room a couple of tires that mysteriously looked like that might be the perfect size for Doc: a 21-inch 90/90 and a 17-inch 130/80. They were Dunlop TrailMax’s. I never seen nor heard of these before but the tread pattern and composition were clearly designed for dual-sport riding. I hoped to make it to Nairobi on my current tires as all information pointed to Kenya’s capital city as the only place north of Windhoek I’d find tires for my bike. But given that traveling through Kenya due to the political situation was questionable. This was magic luck. I bought the tires.

IMG_6752.jpg

Charles from Ray Wilson Off-Road Works in Lusaka, Zambia helped replace my fork seals, install a new front tire and set me on my way.

IMG_6740.jpg

I was still riding with an Avon Gripster on the front which was new in Rio de Janeiro some 11,000 miles ago. The rear had about 4,500 miles on it and was clearly showing signs of wear, but not quite ready to be replaced. In fact the Avon on front had more tread, but since we had the tire off the bike I opted to just replace it now considering front tires will last 2 to 1 to the rear. As for the new rear, I decided that I should bleed as much wear out of the Bridgestone before replacing it as finding another tire “in stock” anywhere north would be next to impossible.

So I finally found a use for the spare set of bungee cords I had purchased in South Africa in November. I secured the spare rear tire to the back of the bike and returned to ChaChaCha Backpackers for final preparation for an early morning departure.

Going To Lusaka

After three days of waiting for sunshine and my DHL package from Windhoek, I was committed to just push on. Africa is a big continent. I’ve got Malawi, Tanzania, Madagascar, Uganda and more to look forward to. True, I feel slighly ripped off that I didn’t have better weather here and the incentive to cross into Zimbabwe to check out the falls from another persepctive. But somethings you need to save for a return trip. Right?

IMG_6706.jpg

At Jolly Boys Backpackers in Livingstone I idled the time while watching the rain, writing and editing photographs. The internet connection was painfully slow so not much updating could happen. And below the guests eagerly watch Zambia get slammed 5-1 by Cameroon in the Africa Cup of Nations Football Championship.

IMG_6722.jpg

There was a slight issue that had been a bit of a problem at Jolly Boys Backpackers in Livingtone. Since Ronnie left a few days ago I’ve been room jockeying. And when moving my things from one “dorm” room to antoerh I neglected to move my “Pack-it” Microfiber towel. At these hostel style accomodation it’s no frills. No sheets or blankets for the bed and no towels, soap, body wash or hand lotion. But for ten bucks what do you expect. So I’d been using my camp towel, but after yesterday’s shower, I had hung it from the curtain rod in my room. When moving all my gear I neglected to see and move the towel. To make matters worse, the girl who had cleaned that room the day I moved out wasn’t working yesterday. And the 4 kivwi girls sharing that dorm room said my towel was not there wehn they arrived. THey let me poke in the room and take a quick gander. Nothing hung from the curtain rod.

So gearing up to leave today I was almost resolved to bidding my towel good bye. A sad thing because it packs extremely small, dries fast and serves the purpose. Finding another in Africa would be impossible. And I’m not about to carry a cotton towel through the serengett and the Nile. But this morning the “maid” told me she had folded the towel and placed it on the rattan shelving unit in the room. Even thought the Kiwi girls caught an early morning transfer tfor a white water rafting trip, I got into the room and found the towel. Relief.

And given the amount of showers I had today, I coulda used it.

Yeah. Memories of Ecuador, Brazil and South Africa flashed back today as I rode the nearly 300 miles to Zambia’s capital Lusaka. The first 100km could be a solid entry in the Guiness Book’s worst pot=holed road in teh world, if there were such a thing. Making matters worse wsa the fact that it rained heavily the night before and continued to rain. The pot holes were filled with muddy water.And those potholes that had been half-ass repaired with dirt, clay and sand turned into muddy land mines. Carefully navigation and slow speeds were required to get through those first 100km. Yet while the road improved dramatically afterwords, the weather deteriorated. By the time I rolled into Choma for petrol the rain pelted violently on the corrugated room of the gas station making more noise than the annoying morning rooster.

IMG_6726_2.jpg

For the next 3 hours to Lusaka I was teased with small packets of sunshine and as the road passed through Zambia’s greenbelt where beyond tobacco, corn, tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, coffee and sugar cane are harvested. I rode through tiny yet scenic villages sitting among the tall green grass and surrounded by corn and other plants, and with the traditional thatched round huts. And everyone was walking or riding their bikes. Carrying bundles of wood or balancing water on their heads, it was just another typical sunday for them, but it was a challenging yet exciting day riding for me. I’m in Africa. The real Africa, as Zambians like to refer to their country. Though national pride took a hit last night as in the Africa Cup of Nations Zambia’s soccer team got slammed 5-1 by Camaroon. And I continued to get slammed by rain.

IMG_6728.jpg

I took refuge from the rain at this gas station in Choma.

When the sun peaked out for one of its teasing moments I took the opportunity to pull over and talk to one of the boys riding with massive cargo on dilapidated bicycles. Every day these kids, and I saw dozens, stuff as much charcoal wood into burlap sacks and ride more than 2 hours on their bikes to a local market where the going rate for a bundle is KW25,000 – or about $7. They collect wood, let it dry in the sun, then dig a hole for the wood and light it on fire until it’s ripe and ready to be packed into the sack and taken to market. He couldn’t have been more than fifteen years old. His brown head was beaded with perspiration and his heart raced. After given the nod of approval to snap a few photos he politely asked me if “it was alright to go, now?” Even here in the Zambian heartland these boys have a delivery schedule to keep.

IMG_3906_2.jpg

Charcoal production, transportation and distribution is big business. Most transport is done on these bicycles.

It took just over 6 1/2 hours with various stops to get to Lusaka from Livingstone. Arriving at ChaChaCha Backpackers Lodge I was lucky they had one bed left. Good god. Another night in a dorm room. And after a cold shower and cold beer, I was ready for food and bed. I’m in Zambia. The real Africa.

Victoria Falls.

Most people who visit southern Zambia come to see UNESCO World Heritage Site Victoria Falls. One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, David Livingstone stumbled on the falls in 1855 as he spent four years traveling down the mighty Zambezi River and became the first white man to see the spectacular sight. Located about 5 miles from the town of Livingstone, Victoria Falls from the Zambia side is an awe-inspiring sight and this time of the year with the water on the Zambezi approaching record levels due to massive rain in Angola the volume of water falling makes getting to the falls like battling a gale force wind on the deck of an ocean sailing ship.

IMG_3903.jpg

IMG_3869_2.jpg Picture 086_2.jpg

With all the rain and water I’ve been monitoring the weather north where I’ll head after Zambia. The situation for many locals looks grim. More than 50,000 have been evacuated from Mozambique. South of here and southeastern Malawi have seen record flooding with roads and bridges washing away. Roads construction or repair projects have been set back dramatically. And transport of food and essential goods to many areas has been difficult if not impossible.

Even worse, the political situation in Kenya is escalating to near civil war proportions with gruesome violence and massive riots making me question traveling into Nairobi in the near future. I’ve been repeatedly warned not to travel through the Congo and the portion of Tanzania below Lake Victoria, home to thousands of refugees from the Congo is reportedly a very dangerous place to travel and traffic through the area requires an armed guards and a convoy — all at a cost.Picture 092.jpg

So as I walked across the footbridge above the falls and got soaked by the brute force and enormous volume of water falling I wondered how wet Africa would be as I continued travel. Hiking along the upper banks of the river in Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park I was suprised to see the lack of guard rails just above the top of the falls. Later walking along the trail that follows Palm Grove Gorge I waited but failed to see adventure seekers jumping off a perfectly good bridge with a rubber band wrapped around their ankles. At Jolly Boys, Daniel a 25-year old German who had been working in a medical clinic in Uganda the last four months took the jump a few days before. He said his eyes were a bit sore after the jolt. And Lorenzo, the tatooed Italian on a four-month kayak tour filled me in about another adventure motorcycle rider from Italy, Marco de Ambrogi, whose book he just started reading the day before I arrived. Eager to connect me with a like-minded adventurer from his own country, Lorenzo jotted out an email of introduction hoping that maybe one day I’d have a chance to swap stories with Marco.

Picture 125.jpg

An old CB750 is the police bike used by a few officers in Livingstone.

With grey skies and threatening rain Ronnie took off for Malawi this morning. My DHL package should arrive tomorrow and I’ll get out early the following morning.

The Real Africa: Border Crossing Into Zambia

I couldn’t imagine what was taking so long. I’d passed through more than thirty-five border posts over the last two years and never did it seem to take this long. By now I was regretting giving my passport, carnet and motorcycle documents to Ronnie. We’d crossed the Zambezi on the makeshift ferry more than an hour ago. The muddy patch of Zambia where the ferry dropped its loading ramp was littered by zones of trucks parked haphazardly and blocking access to the offices of customs and immigration. A young boy in tattered jeans, a faded t-shirt and no shoes waved for my attention. By now I’d learn to quickly take notice to such distractions and then ignore them. Whether Africa, South or Central America locals will do anything to capture your attention. Most of the time, once they do victims are subject to any number of harassing schemes. I was wary. But he was trying to direct me through a narrow rocky path that split between two cargo trucks. It didn’t look good: meaning it looked slippery and messy. But I went for it.


IMG_3862_2.jpg

Ferry loading and unloading area at Kazangula, Zambia on the Zambia side of the Zambezi River.

The border post looked like a traffic jam on the 405 in Orange County. Dozens of people milled about, many sporting baskets of cargo balanced on tehir heads. Some men wandered around with clipboards or paperwork. Umbrellas obscured the view into the immigration office as the rain poured. I was sure my carnet and passport were getting soaked. And as the thunder crashed louder and the rain fell faster and harder I took refuge under the only place I could find a dry place to stand: outside the police shack. The one room block house about 3 meters by 4 meters had a single desk and two small benches. A rusted corrugated tin roof with a few centimters of overhang was the best place to stand. I patiently waited for Ronnie to return. I offered to watch the bikes because border posts are notorious for crooks, criminals or anyone looking for an easy grab.

The entrance and exit to the muddy ferry landing area was a narrow gate big enough for only one truck to pass. As I practiced patience and waited for Ronnie the gate became a microcosm of Africa’s generation old conflict. Two truckers from the Congo working for competing transport companies brought the border post to standstill due to their stubborn inability to relax and let one or the other pass. There was yelling in a language I couldn’t understand yet fully understood what they were fighting about. I expected weapons to be pulled out as the guy existing was sure he was in the right while the other trucker just leaned on his horn. I just watched the world go by while Ronnie dealt with the bureaucracy of border business.

At first the whacking sound didn’t register. Then the screams which I first confused for laughter turned out to be moans and cries of pain. I pivoted into the doorway of the small shack and saw a man with a billiard stick swung over his head and smash down on the thighs of a victim sitting on the bench. He fell to his knees onto the concrete floor. Three others were crowded on the bench that could barely seat them. The young man sat back down when another whip of the biliard stick came crashing down on his shoulder. I thought to myself. Now I am in Zambia, the real Africa.

The beating went on for twenty minutes while I waited for Ronnie. At one point the officer stomped his feet down on the bare toes of the victims. They apparantly stole a tent and a battery from the farmer they worked for. The three officers in the shack were determined to get a confession. Until they did, they’d beat the poor kids to submission. I turned away avoiding eye contact with the officer. The next time I looked inside the billiard stick had been broken in half. I learned that one had admitted to stealing the tent. And soon another pointed the finger to his buddy as the battery thief. More kicks, more smacks and soon the officer was filling out forms in triplicate that would amount to a property report for the nearby prison in Livingstone. All of them were going.

I imagined ending up on the wrong side of the law here in Zambia or anywhere else north I’d be going. Diplomatic immunity, international safety in tourism, innocent third-party and other phrases circled my head. Better be careful. Better watch my back, my front and everything else. The fearful eyes of the four thieves locked onto mine the last time I looked into the room. I felt their pain but offered no sign of emotion. I’m in their country. And in Zamiba, I learned, they don’t treat kindly to thieves. Obviously.

IMG_3866_2.jpg

The beating went on for nearly an hour inside this police shack Kazangula, Zambia near the ferry border crossing from Botswana while I stood under the eaves trying to stay dry.

Ronnie had to buy me a visa for $100, carbon tax for another $30 and liability insurance for another $50 – perhaps the most expensive border crossing in my two-year journey. With a handful of soggy papers and rubber stamp ink running in the pouring rain, I packed the papers in my top box and headed toward Livingstone less than an hour’s drive away. Even in the pouring rain to the southeast I notice an oddly shapped cloud rise in an distinct and almost cylindrical fashion. I knew it was created by the might Zambezi River as it dumped down massive amounts of water down the legendary Victoria Falls.

Weary and waterlogged we arrived Arriving at Jolly Boys Backpackers in Livingstone where I confirmed with DHL in Windhoek to send my package for pick up at the local DHL office here. Ronnie and I shared a simple A-Frame chalet with a thatched roof. Bathrooms and showers were just off a simple courtyard fitted with comfortable benches lined with cushions and large futons. A nearby bar, eating area, pool and Jacuzzi made for a perfect place to chill after taking in the falls, kayaking, rafting, bungee jumping or whatever activity the young crowd gathered here takes in. For Ronnie he is on a fast track to get to Lilongwe in Malawi where friends wait for him and they’ll spend the next weekend on Lake Malawi. I will catch up on my writing and wait for DHL to bring my camera.

Aids. Safe Sex. Self Satisfaction.

At the immigration office in Botswana in Kasane on the Chobe River I noticed a large poster posted above the water cooler when I first passed through on my way to the houseboat. But it wasn’t until I came back into Botswana did I take notice and let the message sink in.

IMG_3850.jpg

I’ve seen condoms handed out free, aids pins on masses of people, t-shirts touting aids awareness and health brochures about the risk of aids. But this is the first time I’ve seen Masturbation used as a method of aids prevention. I’m not sure what the missionaries might have thought of this tactic, but I must appraud the boldness and adventurous management for Botswana’s Yoho (Youth Health Organization) aids awareness and prevention program. Bravo. But still very funny.

IMG_3849_2.jpg