There are many things that I have either learnt anew or have been reinforced over the past 2 months of being on the road.
1 - I am a fair weather camper.
Zambia is renowned for its rainy season. Treacherous mud road images fill every African travellers blog/image collection. Somehow coming from KZN midlands we thought we knew about summer rains. What a joke!!! Zambia is seriously wet over Jan / February, and obviously with the rain comes dampness. And this I have found immensely testing to me personally over the last few weeks. Everything is damp from the actual tent, to your pillow, to your sheets, to your clothes never getting dry. It is an exhausting cycle as the washing pile grows which can’t be washed due to rain, and then the endless half-dry half-soaking stuff having to find a home in your car or trailer. I think if we had to offer anyone a lift right now they would quickly jump right out of the stinking "wet-dog" smelling car!!!! I joke about this but honestly this has been a serious mental battle for “hot dry loving me”. It has tested me for many days and when I see a storm brewing I actually nearly cry.
2 - Detouring is part and parcel of travelling in Africa.
Something we are learning is that we shouldn't plan and get too excited too soon A journey which should have taken us 2 days took us 4 days with a LONG detour to yet another border post...... But I guess with each detour comes new sights and experiences and we are fast learning not to huff and pant too much when plans change. Our new saying.... AWW - Africa Will Win!!!!
3 - Roads in Zambia are the lifeline linking everyone together
We have pretty much driven from the Far East corner ofZambia (Chipata) to the southern middle (Lusaka)to the very northern part (Mbala/Tunduma) and nearly every km was lined with homes or small farming plots and with these endless streams of people with their home grown produce for sale. The busy roads are the shopping “malls”, meeting places, selling stalls, walkways to schools and friends, cattle tracks, coal roads and nursery school pathways. People have to sometimes walk over 20km a day to get to the nearest village. All the while these lifelines of roads are hammered by huge racing trucks. Life happens along these “highways”. Finding an isolated wee stop can be quite tricky! The Zambian “lifeline” is busy but the smiling waving happy people will remain on our hearts for years to come.
Dev and I both love riding and our respective businesses involve bicycles so our eyes have been blown away but the sheer amount of bikes out here. Bikes bikes bikes. Bikes to carry families, bikes used as taxis, bikes to carry vast bags of coal, bikes ridden for miles to get from village to village, bikes used not for pleasure but to make life out here possible. Being the organiser of a 100km event in Kzn I have to sometimes wonder if “my riders” who can complete 100km on their “soft tail/ disk brake/ carbon bikes could ride and carry the loads that these guys do daily with their rickety often brake-less bikes ..... sorry y’all but I think you wouldn’t last long out here!
5 -Kids are awesome
Our kids have had some serious hours in the car. And many a time I have been the initially gentle mum asking for them to "slow down kids" but this falling on deaf ears, and then shortly thereafter to be the LOUD SHOUTING red faced mum!!!!! But these kids of ours are just too awesome and find the most amazing games to play in the car to kill time! (and of course sometimes the blissful quiet times when they sleep!)
6 - Being on the go is sometimes exhausting
Being on the road and moving constantly definitely makes one travel-weary. Suddenly you find yourself actually not seeing anymore. This is where we found ourselves mentally. Luckily we arrived at another piece of heaven on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. And here we will stay for a week or more. Gather ourselves, slow down and restore our energy for the next exciting leg of our journey.