OK, hi from Botswana! 🙂 I’ll pick up where I left off at the Victoria falls, with a few photos from there…
As we approached the entrance desk, we heard rumours that there was an exceptionally small amount of water going over the falls, and that it might not be worthwhile to pay our $20US entry fee to get in. Locals were saying that even at this time of year, the falls used to be full with water, but in recent years, they’ve almost entirely dried up at some times of year, which is very concerning.
Kristian did the crazy bungee jump!
Rising temperatures here in Africa are drying up rivers and agricultural land everywhere, and the impacts are evident in the communities we pass through – stark barren fields, where crops used to grow; scorched frames of trees and shrivelled shrubs, barely clinging to the deeply cracked soil. Some areas ofZambia were greener, since the rains are finally arriving, but it is difficult to imagine the struggle through the driest times in these regions.
Bottled water is only available in the big cities, and we have had our work cut out to stay stocked up on this, and stay hydrated. The truck gets oven-hot during the day, and often opening the windows only brings in hotter air from outside.
After the Falls, we had a short drive to our last campsite in Zambia, just outside Livingstone. We rejoined the concert team, and were delighted to hear the success of the event! Faith leaders and ministers had attended, and the programme was very well-received by a large crowd. The campsites are beginning to blur into one, as we arrive late and pass on early in the morning to the next place. Some are more basic and some have extra facilities or leisure features, which offers the difficult choice of whether to take time to use them, or get the early night we all need!
Reception in Livingstone:
Dipping our feet in the pool at Elephant Sands after a long day:
In the morning, leaving at 6am, we headed for the Botswana border. The crossing was quite an adventure, as we had to take our 6 trucks over the great Zambezi River, on what was little more than a small metal floating platform, with two make-shift hydro turbines on either side, shaking and chugging out black fumes, as they fought to stir and churn enough water to get the “ferry” moving. Just to add to the tense uncertainty, we spotted another ferry just off the far shore (about 150m away) with a large articulated lorry hanging off the back into the water. Burly men tried to organise the loading of 2 of our trucks and some smaller vehicles, and a rowdy shouting match broke out in the local dialect, about whether another small lorry could be let on. While this was being drawn out, the white lorry had already spun and heaved its wheels onto the rickety boarding platform and was edging onward. Thankfully, it was eventually required to reverse off (a wise decision for the already overloaded vessel!) but managed to get its wheels stuck in the rut where the landing ramp didn’t meet very convincingly with the shore… After some more minutes, most of our group boarded as foot passengers, and we nervously made the crossing, trying to avert our gaze from the half-sunken lorry/ferry wreckage near the far shore. I spent the short crossing casting my mind pleasantly back to the Corran Ferry near Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, where I had worked last year. I visualised the crisp white paint and gentle chug of the boat, gliding in an arc towards the majestic Ardgour lighthouse. Sadly, the thought of crocodiles was still all too close to the front of my mind to be comfortable! As we reached the far shore, I spotted a small dugout canoe being skilfully steered through the shallows, and I considered the contrast between the natural impression given by the native paddler and the stark unnatural reality of the fuming scrap-metal engineering disaster, parting the oil-slicked waters we had just travelled. And we wonder at how humans have such a propensity for environmental destruction!
We journeyed on into Botswana which was much flatter than any country yet – it seemed like the one road would stretch round the whole world, as it darted towards the distant hazy horizon. We stopped for some time at a shopping centre to wait for the other trucks which had boarded on a later ferry. Unfortunately, there were some technical problems that had to be repaired before they made it across, so it was well after lunchtime before we left the small town where we had been waiting. I managed to send off a couple of postcards, and change some currency, but everyone was impatient to get back on the road. With this long delay, we had to arrange to stay at a different campsite last night. Coincidentally, instead of going on to the “Rhino Sanctuary” we stopped at a beautiful open site called Elephant Sands, where we saw several huge African Elephants during the evening. There was a chance to charge
electronics, which was welcomed by all. We enjoyed a very nice dinner from our chef, Peter (and our sub-group was helping with food prep today): soup and crusty bread followed by a lovely mince and veg stew. The evening meeting brought the news that today would be a 3am start. It was a struggle dragging ourselves out of bed after only a few hours of light sleep, to strike camp and leave without breakfast, as we try to make up the lost time of yesterday. We should be stopping for breakfast at around 9am, and then heading on all the way to Gaberone for the concert this afternoon…. more on this later! 🙂