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Trip Report Zambia, My Intro To South Africa

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Although I flew into Johannesburg, my first real introduction to natural South Africa is in Zambia. With just the shirt on my back, a netbook and camera bag, I am received with smiling faces and opened arms. Intending to stay just three days, I find it hard to leave after five.

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    LIVINGSTONE ARRIVAL

    My first day in Zambia is not off to a good start as I arrive without my luggage. A $40,000 cab fare from the airport and I am checking into Jollyboys a local hostel for US$12 per night for a quad dorm style room.

    A trip into town and for $82,000 I have the clothing along with supplies I think I will need until my backpack shows up. I am excited about a powder blue ¾ length pants that might just give me a chance at a Zambian modeling career.

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    SUNSET CRUISE ON ZAMBEZI RIVER

    It's about three in the afternoon and I have already arranged through Jollyboys my first Zambian outing. For US$55, I will be taking an open bar “Sunset Cruise” on the Zambezi river. I am picked up around 4pm and after a few stops, about thirty minutes later we arrive at our departure point for the cruise.

    A few formalities, like paying for the cruise and I am on board the boat where others are already enjoying the open bar. Mosi, my drink of choice is a local lager that is refreshing on a still hot afternoon. As we get underway a jovial crew introduction is made with the hopes that no matter what happens we should leave the cruise happy thanks to the open bar.

    The river is calm and peaceful but it's tranquility masquerades it's potential dangers. Eyes and wiggling ears gives us just a hint as we spot our first set of hippos.

    Did you know hippos kill more humans in Africa than any other mammals? The Zambezi is also home to crocodiles that camouflage very well against the dark brown waters. Nevertheless, sitting twenty feet above the water surface I feel safe especially with a Mosi in my hand.

    Along one edge of the river we approach a pod of hippos that signal our presence in a weird “Hippo Latin” kind of way. I think it is a warning for us to keep our distance as they are aggressive territorial defenders. Again, I am ready to do battle with my Mosi but from a hundred feet or so away. I ain't scared of no hippos!

    As a part of our open bar, appetizers are served on deck then later we are invited below for tasty fresh grilled hamburger sliders. They go fast, so don't wait as you'll be lucky to just get one like I did. Back on the upper deck we are entertained and participate in what I gather is a local drinking song. A cho, A cha, A chicee, chicee, cha!

    So much fun and relaxing scenery it is easy to forget why we are here. However, something in the sky is slowing giving us a gentle reminder. Sunsets on the Zambezi are supposed to be some of the best in Africa. Although it is somewhat cloudy, I would find that position hard to disagree with as I enjoy my first South Africa sunset.

    Video:
    http://youtu.be/XvMzx2rOPwE

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    LIVINGSTONE WILD NIGHTLIFE

    I am back at Jollyboys from my “Sunset Cruise” and the bar area is starting to bustle with activity. Jollyboys has a nice laid back atmosphere and it is a favorite hang out for locals who work in the travel business. Here you can play table tennis, shoot pool, watch soccer (futbol) or just enjoy a Castel beer which seems to be a local favorite.

    I have made the switch and while at a table I am approached by a local to take his picture. Major is his name. We join others at a nearby table and our conversation ranges from local and international politics to social and environmental issues. Here I also meet a few foreigners that do volunteer work in Zambia. One or two of them have traveled over twelve hours by bus or hitch hiking to be in Livingstone. I am impressed by their contributions and love of Zambia.

    It's Saturday Night in “The Big City” and I am not afraid to explore the Zambian nightlife. Major has appointed himself my guardian and when the time is right a group of us leave for Fezbar. About a fifteen minute walk from Jollyboys, Fezbar is a Mexican restaurant but with one interesting thing on it's menu, Crocodile Burgers. I order up but I am disappointed when the waiter returns a few minutes later to tell me they are sold out.

    Major has never had chicken wings so I place two orders for us to share along with his brother a local taxi driver. A Michael Jackson track has the place jumping and I try to convince Major to show me some Zambian moves. However, he needs Zambian music to do so. Apparently, this is not true for a few others one of whom manages to balance a beer bottle on his head while doing his stuff.

    For the past week there has been an International Participant kayaking event on the Zambezi river. Knowing this helps to explain somewhat why I find myself witnessing a beer boot drinking contest. Then a strange thing happens, a Congo line starts to the sound of MJ's … “Don't Stop Til You Get Enough”. A first for me.

    With a good sampling of Fez under our belt it's time to move on. This leads us to a higher end nightclub with a more local clientele and flavor. Major is moving like I have never seen him move before. I do my best to pick up a few of his moves. The safe ones!

    Another cab ride and we driving into the outskirts of Livingstone on poorly lit dusty bumpy roads passing through small neighborhoods and areas of huge vacant lands. I could never find my way back into town if I had to although I have no fear that it would ever be the case.

    My nightlife experience in Livingstone has truly gone local as we visit bars that I am sure few outsiders have ever stepped foot in. Yet, I do not feel the least unwelcome. At one stop our cab driver decides to have a beer and make me the designated driver. I accept the challenge as long as he is still going to be able to provide the directions.

    If only I had worn my new powder blue shorts I would have been one cool color coordinated Designated Driver. MADD and GQ would have been totally proud.

    Video:
    http://youtu.be/HaSnWJIB5qE

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