Last night we couldn’t sleep. This town was alive with the pumping music of drunkenness. All through the dark hours of the evening the people of Livingstone celebrated in their shebeens.
Today there is a lack of the usual silence and shame that follows a Saturday. From early in the morning their church buildings have been echoing with the songs of jubilant worshippers. It seems Livingstone is as much religious as it is joyous. And they praise as loudly as they drink – or at least they have as many churchgoers as they do drunkards.
It was a welcome site, the mist of the falls in the distance and the security of quality shops and good accommodation. The drive here was everything but comfortable and our exhausted bodies struggled through the city’s celebration until dawn.
If not for the battle we had fought to get here, we would be in those shebeens drinking their Mosi and smoking too much. But not tonight, not after we spent six hours on the road, covering a mere 200km from Katima Mulilo, in Namibia, to here.
Roughly five minutes after entering Zambia, the first thunderstorm hit us and the heavens opened up – a wet welcome to the country. Already soaked we took refuge with other villagers until, like magic, the storm blew over to reveal the scorching heat synonymous with Africa.
We had hardly gone too far when we broke down. Thankful that the storm had passed, but cursing the sun, we spent an hour next to the road fixing the fork of the rear wheel. Walking for miles on end the villagers passed us, greeting us with shimmering smiles and offering help. Their kindness made us feel more welcome in this country where we have had nothing but bad luck.
By 15h30 we were driving into Kazangula when the rains came again. Faster than the bike broke, the sun disappeared and loud thunder rang a final warning for us to get this ridiculously small bike off the road. Soon the potholes wrere filling up with water. Again we waited it out and again the rain ceased and the sun appeared, as if it had been shining all along.
We tried once more but yet again we failed. Today we were going nowhere in a hurry. We had gotten closer to Livingstone but the journey was far from over when the throttle handle of the bike broke off. Once more we baked in the sun, patching the motorbike which we had subjected to so much punishment already.
Three hours later, we had fixed the bike, driven through a swarm of stinging insects and a national park, when we drove into this town.
It has been the toughest day we have endured so far and simultaneously the most fun we’ve had. We didn’t celebrate last night and we didn’t praise the Lord this morning but we are singing a song of our own…The Eels said it best; “hey man, now you’re really living”.
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