WanderingTrader

Curse You Central Africa!

Curse you Zambia!  After my trip to Israel I really thought I had my life figured out for a few days; live in Colombia for a few months, live in Israel for a few months, and go travel somewhere new for a few months.  Traveling to Zambia made me realize again how traveling around the world really sucks. I never thought I would meet a group of people that are so nice and genuine in Africa.

I felt so comfortable in Zambia that I started conversations with every random person that I saw joking along the way about the famous soccer teams of South Africa.

Funny T-shirt from Livingstone, Zambia

Funny T-shirt from Livingstone, Zambia

Luckily, I was as able to be more daring and take more chances since I met an American in Livingstone.  Eww, an American.  Quite the contrary, he has been living in Swaziland for almost a year and a half and was crazy enough to jump into a Congolese truck driver’s passenger seat with me since I didn’t want to pay for a taxi, very cool guy.

Where the heck is Swaziland you ask?

The answer to that question is very complex, somewhere in Southern Africa.  It was hysterical when I saw all of the employees at the Jollyboys Hostel wearing t-shirts that read “Livingstone, somewhere in Central Africa”.  It’s such a stereotype since most people really don’t know where Zambia is.  Back to the people of Zambia.

Whenever you arrive in a new destination (especially in Africa) you are always thinking logistics.  How exactly am I going to get from point A to point B?  In Africa, the thought is more like in the middle of where am I going to be when something goes wrong?  This isn’t the United States where you can call your buddy at AAA to come and fix your car for you.  When I walked off the plane in Zambia I saw a man and struck up a conversation.

After the third line he offered to give me a ride to the bus station, $40 bucks saved

Yes that’s $40 bucks, in the capital of Zambia a ride from the airport costs more than in New York City.  Once I arrived at what is considered the bus station I wandered around and find a great place to eat.  Not one hamburger, not two hamburgers, three hamburgers please.  You should have seen the look on the guys face, he didn’t ask if I wanted fries with that (oops.. its chips, would you like chips with that, silly British English).

Livingstone, Zambia, pictures of livingstone

A building in Livingstone, Zambia

What do you expect when a hamburger in Zambia is the size of a small deck of cards?  I can’t fit these fat American stereotypes unless I eat; it’s okay to be fat, so we’re fat, let’s just be fat and shut up about it.  I sat down at the bus station and the brother of two young ladies approaches me and says “they want to talk to you.”

I asked him which one because one was cute, the other not so much.  They write down my email and phone number in Kenya, I won’t be speaking to them ever again.  The bus station honestly looked like the government overtook a drug’s warehouse (sorry Zambia but I have to honest on the blog) and while there was trash everywhere and small food stands and offices that are made out of sheet metal, I didn’t feel threatened.  I whipped out my camera and took a few pictures and went to talk to the two ladies.

Who doesn’t like that kind of attention?

I spoke with a few men at the bus station as well to find out who was on the same bus in order to follow the right person.  You think I travel to Africa and am not going to follow a local?  Turns out when you ask for a bus ticket for TODAY in Zambia they like to sell you a ticket for tomorrow.  There was an empty seat on the full bus apparently so I didn’t have any trouble.

The bus ride was a whole different experience that I will be talking about but there was roughly 70 or 80 people packed in one bus like tuna cans.  I am only traveling with a backpack and a duffle bag which I had to pretzel my body around since I didn’t want to place my bags in the belly of the bus.

If these Africans only knew I am traveling with roughly $5,000 worth of technology, surprise!  I didn’t mind the 40 lbs backpack on my lap until the 6 foot 300 pound (155 kilos) man sat next to me.  I was able to sleep on the bus only because I didn’t sleep the night before.

A note to Ethiopian Airlines, you really shouldn’t have flights at 3:30 in the morning

Turns out the gentlemen is Zambian which means he is awesome.  He lets me use his cell phone to do all of the important things I have to do like check my Facebook page, send a few tweets out, check my Facebook page again, answer a few important emails, check my website stats, and finally check my Facebook page again.  It’s Facebook, its important.

semi truck in zambia, africa

semi truck in zambia, africa

Once I get off the bus I am greeted by the taxi mafia, I put on the serious “I’m a tourist that knows what’s up” face and get off the bus.  They believe it for a second until I turn around and look for the man that I sat next to on the bus.  That’s when they turned on the Zambezi Hustle and offered me a taxi “at a good price”.  There aren’t good taxi prices when there aren’t meters in the taxis guys sorry.  Turns out in Johannesburg when tourists ask to use the meters they get charged more, silly tourists.

It’s 2am, the man walks me to Jollyboys Hostel where I am checked in and I lay down on one of the most comfortable beds in Africa, thank you for blessing this hostel Martha Stewart.  The next few days were very interesting as I got to know more and more about Zambia and their culture.  Curse you Zambia for being awesome!  Instead of taking $10 taxis to and from the Victoria Falls I (kind of) hitchhiked and received free rides from locals and semi truck drivers.

Nothing like getting a ride from people coming from Zimbabwe!

The taxi drivers didn’t like that of course as I rejected their fair pricing structure for a free ride to and from town.  There was even a time when a taxi driver signaled that I was going to get arrested for riding in the back of a pickup truck.  I gave him a fancy hand signal of my own.  We joked about it the next day when he saw me, can’t hustle this tourist.

If Livingstone, Zambia had faster internet and air conditioning in every building I would consider moving there for part of the year.  Luckily, I have to return when the water levels are higher to see the true beauty of the Victoria Falls.

Curse you Zambia for being awesome.

8 Comments

  1. Hi Marcello, when it comes to touring around Africa, what was your itinery? Did you just find your way through Africa on the whim? I am looking at starting to plan the africa part of my trip and hopefully you can help 🙂 – I have seen you went on Safari but couldnt see what company you used? I am also looking to do the same Mukuni Big 5 Safari to see the leopards etc, and looking to volunteer.

    Do you recommend anything in particular I should see or look out for?

    Thanks,
    Adam

    1. I mainly lived and traveled via Eastern Africa. I started in Kenya and then just started touring around in no specific order. Once I arrived in Ethiopia I decided to move there from Kenya as I fell in love with the country. Highlights would be the Gorilla Trekking in Uganda, Lemurs and stone forest in Madagascar, the cheetah/lion walk with Mukuni Big 5 Safaris, Hyenas in Ethiopia, Devil’s Pool in Zambia, and of course the various activities in Nairobi. If you sign up for the newsletter the contact for the safari should be available there. Cheers!

  2. Hahaha,

    I found this hilarious! I am a Zambian girl who recently moved to the States. I was actually born and raised in Livingstone and its so interesting seeing an American’s perspective on the town I call home! I make jokes about how things in America are always way too big and you’re probably thinking things in Zambia are way too small. Glad you figured out the taxi drivers crazy plans. They do tend to try and overcharge tourists. 🙂 This was an interesting read 🙂

  3. I’m half Zambian and have grown up in Zambia all my life. I love your article, except for that really backhanded and slightly racist statement in the beginning. You can meet nice and genuine people anywhere, so I don’t see why you were so shocked to meet Africans who were like that. What were you expecting? A bunch of machete wielding war lords waiting to rob you?

  4. As a zambian i wud say am proud of ZAMBIA
    U pipo can cum in2 ZAMBIA anytym n we recieve u with open hands coz we ar a Christian Nation we see o pipo as one we consinder o as equal bt do u do dat n yo country dats y no matter hw u curse ZAMBIA dat curse will surely BACK FIRE 2 U.
    We love our simple lifes its better 2 live a simple life n live happily than live a life full of stress.No matter wat u say we will always remain as ONE PEACEFUL NATION.
    ONE ZAMBIA ONE NATION

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