Reposted and updated March 2021
We set off at 6:00hours, from Mongu, the next day to cross the 57 k sand road from Mongu to Kalabo across the Barotse Plain. It was the dry season so the water levels were relatively low. The road is impassible during the rainy season as the plain floods. I am so glad it was dry as we bounced and swished our way for 2 hours across this road. We saw villages on the way that will have to pick up and move when the rains come. There were cattle on the roads and men with bikes loaded with 4 or 5, 50lb bags of rice or huge bags of charcoal. I didn’t see anyone riding these bikes as the sand was too deep.
The local bus (the pick up truck in picture above) across the road to Kalabo, $110,000ZK( $21.00USD. Big buses would not be able to drive through the sand so pick up trucks serve as transport across the sand.
We passed the Lozi Kings winter home but we couldn’t see the palace as it was surrounded by a village. The language in Western Zambia is primarily Silozi, Lozi for short. Each year they have a celebration where by they dress in ceremonial dress and get into these huge black & white striped boats and move the Losi King to higher ground before the floods come. ( This was my first time in Zambia so I have learned more about the Kuomboka Ceremony since then and details are in a post that is coming later in this series) There is a summer home & a winter home. The Kingdom is passed down through each generation and I was told, at this time the King is a female (2011) so I guess she is a Queen. Glad to hear that woman are finding their new place in Zambia.
So after a fun filled ride across this sand & water, on our way, I asked Max our driver if people ever get stuck. Max said that this 4×4 would never get stuck and so you can guess what happened with in the next 5 minutes. Luckily there was a man and a woman starting to put in his garden on the side of the road and three other people walking by who helped to push us out. I gave them each 1000zk for helping.
Click on the link below to see the video my husband Carl and our manager Fredrick digging us out of this same sand road in 2012 with the help of some very generous passers by.
Thankfully now there is a new road of bridges across the Zambezi Flood plain so actual buses can travel in about 1.5 hrs from Mongu to Kalabo. I look forward to one day, travelling on this road after Covid.
We arrived in Kalabo and drove straight to the World Vision Kalabo Office to meet the ADP (Area Development Project) manager. He took us into his office and welcomed us to Kalabo. He explained that we had to read & sign some forms basically stating that we would not be with Njamba without a WV staff member or say or do anything harmful, derogatory or sexually explicit to the child. Jami & I both signed. It was then explained that we would walk down to The Liuwa National Park office to make arrangements for our trip to the park the next day with Njamba & his Family. Again they take all of the peoples names that will be entering the park and we had to give our passport numbers as well.
David, Jami & Max on the pontoon to Kalabo
The picture above is with the ADP Manager in Kalabo, as we signed the Protection of Child forms. We were finally back in the WV vehicle and on our way to first see the school & medical centre that WV had built in the area. The medical centre had solar power and a staff house. I hate to be a skeptic, but with WV pulling out of Kalabo district the government would now be taking over. From what I had learned speaking with the people I did not feel confident that the school would have a teacher or supplies and the medical centre any staff or equipment.
The Teacher of the new school
An old school beside the new one
We actually saw many schools and Health centres that WV had built and the old ones were still standing there like giant match sticks ready to fall any minute. It took us about 1.5hr drive in sand and bush to get to Njamba’s village. The thing is, you have to drive fast in sand or you will get stuck. At one point I looked at the speedometer and we were doing 60 K through fine sand and low trees. The trees were scraping on the sides of the vehicle but not once did I feel that we were in danger. We were in good hands with David & Max. I told Max he should have been a race car driver and my husband Carl would have loved this. I tried not to talk when we were traversing the deep water areas. At one point the water came right over the hood of the vehicle.
Stay tuned for the next episode in two weeks time when we arrive at Njamba’s village!