Originally Posted on November 10, 2012
Updated and reposted March 2022
We finally made it to the pontoon crossing and I had two curious fellows present themselves to me who were trying to better their English. We managed to communicate very well considering.
Every time I said some thing the boys would repeat it. I would ask ” What is your name?” and they would repeat it. Finally after doing this many times, by pointing to myself and saying ”Joe” they realized and pointed to themselves and said their names. We had many laughs and great fun. It was starting to get dark and we still had along way to go.
I am not sure if I mentioned the fact that I was planning to cook dinner for every one that evening on two globe like aluminum BBQ’s I had brought from Canada. It looked like I would be cooking in the dark.
We crossed the Zambezi and passed through another sandy, grassy area and it was a little nerve wracking, especially for Frederick as he was driving. We could barely see where we were going and what path to take. Well we took a wrong one and got stuck.
This is a picture of the underside of the car resting on sand. I don’t have any other pictures of this situation as we were all digging out. It was getting darker and darker and we were in the middle of nowhere. I had visions of us spending the night in the car with the doors locked and windows up to keep the bugs out. There aren’t really that many insects this time of year but still a few. Luckily it cools down in the evenings and we had all of our luggage with us.
Here we were on this one lane sand (beach like) road with tall grasses all around us, in the dark and I saw two lights bouncing in and out towards us from quite a distance away. Part of me wanted to scream for help to attract their attention and part hoped they would go down another path as there was no way they would get by our vehicle. The lights disappeared so I thought we had lost them then out of nowhere I see is this huge truck coming down our path about 30 ft. away. It stopped and three men got out and started talking to Frederick. The driver and owner of the truck said to me” you are carrying too much luggage!”. I agreed. He seemed very nice so I was a little more at ease.
Luckily Frederick new him. Frederick new everyone it seemed! In Zambia there are still Chiefs and Heads (Induna) of the community. Frederick is an Induna and very well respected so I was so pleased that Max had put us in contact with him. I knew we would be safe.
We all used feet and hands and muscle to flatten the sand so it could be driven over and finally after about half an hour and a couple of pushes by all the men the car was free.
I gave the driver 70,000kw(14USD) and told him to share it with his men as that was all I could fine in my bag in the dark. He said” you don’t have to pay for our help” and I said” But I want to, Thank you very much”. That is how it works over there on that long stretch of sand road, everyone helps everyone else.
We finally made it to Kalabo at around 8:30pm. That was 14 1/2 hrs after we left Lusaka.
Along the way we got a call from Mualuka saying that because we had not arrived at our guest house the woman running it gave our rooms away. I took a deep breath and asked” Where will we stay then?” and Frederick said they were all at the guest house that World Vision had built which the community was running now. I felt relieved that we had a place to stay and was looking forward to getting anywhere.
Apparently they had all eaten in a restaurant next to the guest house. I wondered who had paid for it as I knew they didn’t have any money. I expected to pay when I got there. This was an expense I hadn’t counted on.
We pulled up to the gate of the guest house and I jumped out of the car to open it.
It was pitch black out as we pulled up to the building. There are no street lights in Kalabo , just beautiful stars.
The family was not there yet so I waited with a longing in my stomach and the blood pumping fast to my heart. Almost 1 year ago, less 3 days, I had met Njamba for the first time with his mother and twin sister. He would now be 17 years old.
We parked in front of this long hallway with rooms on either side and the car lights shone into the guest house. It certainly wasn’t the ritz, but we would make the best of it.
I was hoping we could move to Nyoka Guest House for the remaining 3 days as I had stayed there last year and it was quite nice and I was comfortable there.
I turned around and looked into the black night and saw 5 shadows behind me. One of them yelled, Joanna and Mualuka rushed at me with a big hug! I said Hello! It is so good to see you, even though I could barely see him. I then looked to my left and tried to see who else was there. I said” Njamba?” and he bounced out of the line and came and gave me a big hug and that familiar deep laugh of his. His laugh was familiar as I had watched the video we had taken last year so many times.
I was then introduced to Dominic, his father, Kufuku, his older brother and Mutiowa, his younger brother even though I could barely see their faces. Carl was introduced and shook all of their hands.
I said lets move inside so I can see you all, so we did!
Stay tuned for the next episode when we meet the rest of the family and a poacher turned conservation officer.