South Luangwa, Zambia: (Day 3) Dec-13-2013

I slept fairly well on the floor.  I had a light breakfast of PB&J and some tea to help take down my pills.  We were on the road by 7:30.  We made a 45 minute stop to go to the ATMs and the supermarket to pick up supplies for the next couple days.  I noticed at this market, as well as everywhere else I've come across, that sunscreen is SO expensive.  It has to be becuase it is one of the only items that ONLYthe tourists buy.  I got some chocolate bars, apples, diet pepsi, and a 5L of water.

Local Children Playing alongside the Road En Route to our Campsite 
...back on the road for another 4 hours.  We had a quick 10 minute stop to take photos of the Luangwa Valley.  Afterwards we were on our way to our camp, where we will be staying for the next two nights.  I checked to see if we would have any phone service here...nope.  Damn!  Kelly may be a little upset that the soonest possible time I can call her will be Sunday.

I was able to read some of the PDFs I brought along with me.  I also got a few decent snapshots of some local villages/village children along the side of the road while we drove to our campsite.  We are staying right alongside the riverbank.  The the opposite side of the river sets the perimeter of South Luangwa National Park.  I set up my tent ASAP to give as much time as possible for the wet tent to did within an hour.  I washed some of my clothing and then jumped into the pool.  Tabby and Godfrey were prepping lunch when a small monkey came by and grabbed an entire cucumber.  Tabby had to chase that monkey down for at a minute...that little critter was fast.

It's 2:40 as I write this and there are monkeys and baboons trying to steel scraps from the truck's storage haul--but the food is locked up.  Every time we get off the bus we have to close and lock every single window or else the monkeys will open them and make a mess of the place.

South Luangwa National Park, Zambia 

A few of us took out out our binoculars/monoculars and scanned the other side of the river.  Along our side of the river in the distance we spotted a few Hippos.  Vincent and I decided to walk a bit closer to get a better view.  As we approached we made sure to take a route that was not between them and the water.  We also stayed fairly far away such that we still needed optical tools to see them.  During our approach we came across several types of bone fragments.  We came across what looked like a Buffalo skull, with its horns still attached.

A Buffalo Skull along the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
A few hundred paces away we came across a femur bone, likely from the same animal.  As we approached the hippos I was able to count 2 dozen of them bathing in the water.  Still, they were far away so even with my zoom lens I could not get a good enough picture.

For lunch we had salad, bread, rice, and some sausage.  It was quite good.  All this bread is making me feel bloated and sick...I'm not used to.  I don't think I would make a good poor person!

It's so hot here.  I finally started wearing my safari's a lifesaver.  I am going to jet now and put the fly on my tent, in case it storms.  Tomorrow I'm taking a 4.5 hour morning game drive that starts at 6:00am and another game drive at 4:00pm.  I'm not sure what I'll do from 10:30am till 4:00 though?

It;s 7:00pm and we're set to eat dinner shortly.  We arrived back from the Textile and Village tours not even 30 minutes ago.  It started pouring rain as we were leaving the local Zambian village.  We loaded into the 2 4x4 vehicles we had used and headed back to the national park, South Luangwa NP, where we were staying.  The ride home was the longest ever...mostly because the vehicle was open--except for a poor excuse for a roof--and the combination of the cold wind and rain made it very uncomfortable.
Textile Shop, South Luangwa, Zambia

The textile stop was a bit lame, but I tried to appreciate it.  It started with a brief tour-10 minutes, maybe?  We saw people hand painting fabrics, then we say them washing, and starching them, they had an electric dryer to 'bake' the color in.  We went to to another room where people where cutting and sewing up the fabrics.  The room smelled like burnt rubber.  Afterwards we were shown into the "shop".  While the textile working environment appeared very 3rd world, this shop was about as 1st world as humanly possible given that it's Zambia.  I soon found out this place was "white-owned", which made a lot of sense.

A Women Hand-painting Fabric, Zambia
Our campsite the first night was was filthy.  The second place, as well as where we are now, are very clean and well organized.  These places are "white-owned" whereas the first place was "black-owned".  It seems that a lot of well-educated white people 'open-up' shop here in Africa and employee a bunch of the local people.  The employees work very hard, but the owners seem very 'detached' from the worker's lives.

A Young Child in a local Zambian Village
The items at the shop were grossly overpriced,  some people on the tour bought some textiles...I passed.

After we left the textile shop we went to a local village.  It was very small.  The population seemed to be at least 60-75% children.  We were greeted with large smiles and 'open arms' by the villagers.  We took photos of them and showed them the pictures--they loved it!  They danced a bit for us while the elders played drums and other instruments.  We left them donations as we were heading out.

The rain was horrible but had stopped after 30 minutes, when we were only 2km from camp.  This was a godsend because we came across some some amazing animals.  We saw a couple elephants just alongside the road and over a dozen giraffes eating from trees--and also blocking the road.  We had to wait 10 minutes for them to move.  While we waited I admired the amazing sun set.  Since it was storming and lightening in the distance the sky was blood red turning into a deep purple.

We saw an impala, which didn't look that impressive, until I got to see it run away.  That thing jumped like a kangaroo on steroids.  It must have jumped 8 feet hight--it was such an elegant sight.  Once we got back the others went back to their Chalets to dry off and change for dinner, which was at 7.

Taking Pictures with the Zambian Villagers
I was happy to see that Godfrey and Tabby put the flies on our tents and that Godfrey took in the laundry that I had drying on the clothes line.  Dinner was an authentic african meal--cabbage, pap, and a seasoned beef that closely resembled brisket.  I ate my other chocolate bar for dessert and grabbed a glass of red wine at the bar.  I chatted with some of the people on my tour and when everyone else went to bed I made friends with two girls who where traveling alone.  They were from the States--New York, and New Jersey.  This was the first time in 8 days that I've come across someone else from the States.

A Dozen Giraffes Surprise Us Just Outside Our Campground, South Luangwa NP, Zambia

We talked for an hour--it was nice to talk to people with whom I shared a similar background.  I finally went to bed around 10:40pm.  I have to be up at 5:15 tomorrow to get ready for our 6:00am game drive.

We have 3 psychiatrists on our trip--kinda interesting.  Oh, and it is something else...that is, camping out along the river with wildlife all around us.  We are truly in the center of 'the action'.  While we were walking towards the hippos earlier today one of the men working at the lodge/campground ran to stop us.  He said that just one week earlier a female lion had wondered into our campground and that it wasn't safe for us to be out there alone.  It's a good thing that this camp, along with most other camps, have an armed watchman on patrol.

Children in a Village near South Luangwa NP, Zambia