Photo journal – Zambia.

20 Dec

Here are some photos from my cycle through Zambia, with photos from my infamous blog post “The Road to Chongwe………………..maybe“.

I personally loved Zambia. It is described as the “real Africa”, where as Namibia is described as “Africa for beginners”. Zambia doesn’t have as much tourism, tourists usually just go to Victoria Falls then sometimes drive the 6 hours straight to South Luanga National Park before leaving. But on a bike, I had no choice but to cycle, and I took back roads. It was a tough time for me, as I was obviously alone and the memories of the break up still rather fresh. I had no contact with foreigners, there was no tourist infrastructure. But the beauty of this is that you end up sleeping in some interesting spots, in school class rooms, on the side of the road, in abandoned hotels, in villages, roadside truck stops etc. But it are these moments I will remember, the challenges. I loved the Zambians, great people, and yes it does have the sense of the real Africa, where things just don’t work and things aren’t polished, it’s Africa, raw, refreshing and friendly.

This photo for me sums up road side Africa, people walking in the sandy pot holed dirt. I took it at a boarder town between Zimbabwe and Zambia while I was trying to find out from locals where the road to Chongwe was (which by the way they told me didn’t exist).

Probably a crappy photo due to shading. But this is a common sight all through Africa. Ladies carrying stuff on their heads, fire wood, bananas, water, petrol, washing, basically anything.

This was the road to Chongwe. This is the sight of my first major crash. My front wheel hit a golf ball sized stone and I ate some gravel. A grazed knee was the result.

Flies. Luckily I had done a year working in the outback, so this was a bit of a walk in the park compared to there. But the reason I crashed above was because I was trying to out run the little buggers. They won.

Since I had no map or guide book, I never knew how far I had to go or what the terrain to Chongwe was like, but it was hills and mountains. This was little video with commentary shows how it was. Pushing my bike up and stopping every 10 metres to get my breath. This hill was the site of my leopard encounter. The whole time I was on this road I didn’t see any vehicle.

After having not seen people for what seemed like eternity, therefore being extremely worried as people were my life line to water, I spotted these guys in this dried up river bed. I was so happy to see people, god knows what they were doing here as it was literally in the middle of nowhere. But after my previous night with the leopard, and getting low on water, and worried about not knowing what lay ahead of me, or how far I had to go, it was refreshing and calming to see people. Even though they didn’t speak english.

This stagnated pool of water in the dried up river bed was the first bit of water I had seen in 24 horus and was where the guys in the previous photo had got their water. I asked if it was drinkable, they nodded, I wasn’t convinced especially as one of their drinking containers still bore the sticker of it’s previous life “batery acid”. But I filled up as a last resort.

Charcoal, it’s a big industry for village people all through the countires I cycled through. But it is devastating the deforestation that occurs, and this photos depcits it. Around all the villages is usually a tree grave yard, stumps littering what would have been forest. The sad part is that one of these sacks sells for a couple of bucks. But you can’t blame these people, they have nothing, and at the end of the day they need money to eat.

Local ladies outside the typical roadside restaurant where I would stop for my lunch. This usually consisted of goat and ensema (it changes name depending what country you are in) which is a white porridgey glug that is made from ground maize mixed with water. You eat it with your hands, it’s cheap, it fills you up although it has no nutritional value and best of all you are out of the midday sun.

This photo has a lot going on. This is your common scene in Zambia I would come across every 20kms or so. A water pump where I could get water, and a market behind the bricked wall where I could get my rice, tomatoes and onions for dinner.

Taking a rest.

Africa is home to crappy looking shops all selling exactly the same as the shop next to them but they have amazingly entertaining shop names with semi inspirational messages. I only wish I had started taking photos of them all. Anyway, I stopped off at the ‘Struggle shopping centre’. I like their quote on the right hand pillar “Survival. Never lose hope guys”.

At the struggle shopping centre I had one of those special travel moments. I sat here laughing with these guys as they taught me their local language and we listened to the music that one of the guys was selling at his cassette tape stall. These guys were so friendly and I wasn’t treated like a Mzungu which you really do appreciate. They didn’t ask for anything or give me the story of how life was hard and if I could pay for them to go to school. In fact after sitting and laughing with them for 40 minutes, he gave me a small bag of bubble gum for my bike ride. Which to them is a lot, he wouldn’t let me leave without taking it. I pedalled away smiling.

This road I loved, hills with gentle gradients, not bad to cycle up, but great for going down, and good roads.

It was getting bloody hot by this part of the trip. A lunch time road side stop. I did a lot of reading while cycling.

My truck with the African truck in the back ground.

Fancy seeing you here. Trevor was my hometown doctor growing up in NZ. Him and his wife Helen were working at a mission hospital in Zambia. After 2 weeks of cycling by myself through Zambia, it was great to see familiar faces. Great hospitality for the 5 days I spent with them, just what the doctor ordered you could say.

What I had feared cycling past on my bicycle.

Animals, it is the thing I love about Africa.

Bikes. The poor man’s truck.

The amount of things you see carried on bikes in Africa never ceases to amaze, families, live pigs, 120 litres of petrol, firewood stacked over the riders head, four crates of coke etc etc.. I wish I could have got more footage, but it’s always the way, when you get your camera out you never see anything.

The local beer truck. Classic! The locals leave their 20 litre beer containers on the side of the road. Like the milkman of yesteryear the beer truck comes and fills them up. The beer does not taste like the beer we know, think strong fermented rough textured vegetation in a glass.

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