Intrepid begins!

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Day 64: Livingstone, Zambia (10 November 2009)

We were certainly well rested this morning when we awoke realizing that although yesterday’s events seemed like a dream they were complete reality and we felt so very lucky to be able to have that reality as a part of our lives. We got dressed and went to breakfast (as it was included in our room) and were shocked to see Panos, our friendly Cypress-born radiologist sitting in the restaurant in front of us. He wasn’t supposed to be there, his tour left days ago to go into the Caprivi strip of Namibia and they would then basically be two days behind us on our new tour even though we were staying in different places, it was the same gist of locations. Get this, because he is a Cypress citizen he has a Cypress and a Greek passport and depending on the country he could use either to get in. He got all the way to the Caprivi Strip of Namibia and couldn’t get into the country due to some small snag of the visas on his passport. It seemed very confusing but GAP Adventures covers themselves very well and basically says that you must take care of all of that paperwork before arrival and if there are snags in it they are not responsible. So, he had to take a taxi and a public bus all the way back to Livingstone and then he had to figure out how to get to Maun four days later to reconnect with the tour. Luckily, Constance was great and got him a room and was going to help him to get to Maun and we never found out the specifics, but Panos had been traveling for a full two years and all of the detail of the stories he’d told led us to believe that he was loaded, so he knew that if he had to hire a private plane to get to Botswana he could do that too. How crazy is that, right?!

Anyway, we ate with our friend and wandered to the craft market with him and let him know when we were planning on leaving so we could say goodbye (again) and we were off to do some shopping! We knew we still had one more time to go to the Vic Falls craft market as we were to go there on our new tour tonight but we still wanted to check out this one, too. We only bought a bit of artwork and then headed back to the hotel to pack, check out and find our way to our next venue. We said goodbye to Panos who helped us bring our luggage to the front of the hotel, checked out and thanked Constance and her assistant as they had ordered a car to take us to the Zambezi Waterfront Campsite free of charge which made our lives so much easier as the driver would already know where to go and we didn’t have to come up with the cash. Did we tell you about the cash here? The money is called Qwatcha and it’s all very old and very dirty bills. What would be equivalent to a 10 US dollar taxi would be about 400,000 Qwatcha. It’s almost ridiculous to figure out the money. And, it’s funny as most countries in Africa seem to accept other country’s currencies, but no one will accept the Qwatcha; you can only use it in Zambia. On the other hand, no one at all will use Zimbabwean currency as it’s leader is basically printing money so it’s value is worthless. We bought at the Zambian craft market a set of Zimbabwean bills for the princely sum of 5 US dollars and we got, 10 million, 20 million, 50 billion, 100 billion and 100 trillion dollar notes. It’s great to feel like a king with them in your pocket but all combined you couldn’t even by bread!

Anyway, we made it to the campsite after a short drive and it was really pretty, right on the banks of the Zambezi River. We met our tour leaders, Yohan and Jerrit and our driver, Colin who were all South Africans. Surprisingly, it wound up that there were only five people on this tour as it was also a leg of a larger tour. Five people, including us! There was a girl Linda from New Zealand who had just finished another Intrepid camping trip from Nairobi, Kenya through the Serrengetti and two Irish guys (Simon and Colm) from Dairy, who were in Africa for their first time and then they were going to Dubai for a few days. The five of us in a truck that could seat about 15 with no airconditioning, big giant windows, a few eskies, power points in the back and a good sound system with comfortable seats.

We met everyone (not that that was hard), pitched our tents and used the internet and paid for a sunset dinner cruise for the evening on the Chobe River. It was a lovely boat ride and dinner was good and once again we were able to get beautiful African sunset photos. I really don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like them and I’ve seen my fair share of beautiful sunsets, but these are really just out of this world every night! We hung out for a bit after dinner trying to keep the mossies away and then hit the ablution box. Unfortunately the placement of tonight’s tents weren’t too close to stuff so I was really uncomfortable going anywhere much so in the tent we stayed for the night…monkeys were outside and we were inside, safe in our tent under the African night sky.

Tomorrow: Botswana again!

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