There is something significant about planting a tree. It is a way to make a difference in the world. The thought of going to Zambia to plant fields of trees was one that appealed to me on every level. I am the kind of person that given the tools will put my head down and work through a task, I had a vision of “give me the tools, give me the trees and I will just get planting.”
Photo Credit: Marike Herselman
What I didn’t realise was that there is something deeply significant about planting trees with others. It takes a lot longer to work as a team, and there is something in my western mind that says, “gotta get the job done” so that we can… tick it off the list of jobs to do. Even so, trees were planted and lots of them. Slow and steady wins the race, each tree planted with care and a team of folk to see that all the steps were followed to ensure that that tree gets the best possible start.
The Mechanics of Planting a Tree
The first step in our tree planting mission was to learn how to plant trees. We learnt how to plant trees alongside the school children we were working with. Volunteers and school kids learning the following se7en+1 steps together….
- Gather all your tools and equipment together.
- Your tree needs a hole and a bucket of water poured into it.
- The compost and the soil need to be mixed together.
- The tree needs to be gently massaged out of its black bag and the bags kept to plant next year’s trees in them.
- Then place the tree into the ground with its soil and compost, and gather some more water.
- Add some mulch, here we used newspaper and in other places we used bark and grass. And water your tree again.
- Beautify your tree with a circle of stones and give your tree a name… this tree was named after the sun.
And the se7en + 1th step:
- Take a picture of your new friends and the tree you planted together.
The Heart of Planting a Tree
We planted trees with school children. Each volunteer was assigned a child. And in teams of four or five we set off to plant trees. This wasn’t just planting trees, this was a meeting of minds. This was waiting for one of the team to fetch a bucket of water, this was walking through the field looking for stones to beautify our tree. This is talking to each other, our hopes and dreams, this is connecting with folk and thinking of a name for our tree. On a hard muddy field planting trees, the differences between our worlds evaporate as we focus on the job at hand.
Later in the week we met up with a girl we had planted trees with at school. She was so proud to take us to her home, for us to meet her family, we had our own personal tour guide of the market place. It was a beautiful thing.
Another time I planted trees with a family. They didn’t speak English and I was limited to greeting them in their language. It was hard work, the ground felt like solid rock and was filled with stones. It took time to dig a hole. The compost for our tree was far away and it took time to fill the fragile wheelbarrow more than a few times before there was enough compost for a fledgling tree… and new trees require water, there was another wait for bucket after bucket of water was collected and carried across the thirsty ground. The father did the digging with a pick, the son fetched the compost, the mother gathered the water… I was there for beautification… gathering stones for the base of the tree and mulching and planting friendly little plants around the base of the tree that will ultimately provide nutrients for the tree.
We were busy, it was hot, and dry, and hard work, and for folk that couldn’t communicate there sure was a lot of chatting! Many trees were planted this way, one after the other, after the other… there was no streamlining of the system. A team didn’t dig a row of holes, a team didn’t provide a continuous load of compost. But tree by tree, lovingly planted, placed in the ground… these trees hold hopes and dreams of future fruit, of shade. After a morning that began awkwardly, it was planting trees and work that had us laughing at each other’s jokes and sharing orange slices together by tea-time.
I might plant a row of trees because it is good for the environment, someone else might plant a row of trees because they would love to supply their school with fresh fruit, someone else might plant a row of trees to bring back their diminished woodlands… The point is we can all make a conscious decision to make a difference according to our values, despite our circumstances. Yes, planting a tree takes time and effort, but it takes a lot more than that it also takes communities.
If I were to find a way to take our kids to Zambia to plant trees with GreenPop, it wouldn’t just be for the work of planting trees but it would definitely be for the heart of planting trees.
Photo Credit: Marike Herselman
Our Bible Verse of the Week…
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Week by Week
Tags: Sunday Snippet
So after what feels like weeks of rain we had a weekend of glorious sunshine, I feel quite spoilt. It wasn’t warm mind you, but enough to thaw a little and get the laundry dry.
The Victoria Falls
I have been blogging all about my trip to Zambia… and while I took the weekend off, as one does… I still have more posts coming your way: Things to make and do in Zambia, Awesome people to meet with Greenpop, and why there is so much more to planting a tree than planting a tree. Meanwhile, I thought you might like to look at this post: Five Reasons Why GreenPop Plants Trees in Zambia.
One of the many young trees planted along the shore at the Victoria Falls.
Lovely Links from This Week
- This is why I couldn’t work for Usborne Books… I would never get anything done.
- If you are looking for encouragement and inspiration: Tim Challies on Why we Fail at Family Devotions. And I read this book in college and I have been dying to read it with my older guys… I finally have the excuse and will be reading it right along with them and Tim Challies.
- I am so excited about gardening and getting my green on… this post by Lil Blue Boo on growing succulents from cuttings may well be a good place to start.
- How to make your very own Washi Tape on Paper and Pin, You know you want to do this!!!
- The Art of Simple had this great post: Self Care that Satisfies…
- And Simple Homeschooling had this one: The Unexpected Gift of Homeschooling.
- I collect islands and I have wanted to visit St Helena, featured in GetAway Magazine since I was in primary school.
And the se7en + 1th link:
A Blast from the Past:
That’s us… Hope you have the best week ahead, we have some exciting events this week… follow us on instagram to see our daily happenings.
Tags: Fabulous Friday Fun
Well hello August, I have no idea how it can be August already…
Click on the calendar page, it will open in a new tab, print it out (landscape is best) and then colour it and fill in the days that you want to celebrate… pop it on the fridge and you are good to go. You can still find all the calendar pages down the right hand side of our website and they are all gathered together in our Almanac page for easy searching… If you have holidays or ideas that you would like to add then please go ahead and comment, I would love to have our calendars packed to the brim!!!
- 1 August: World Wide Web Anniversary.
- 1 August: Herman Melville (1819).
- 2 August: National Ice-Cream Sandwich Day.
- 3 August: Columbus Set Sail (1492).
- 3 August: National Watermelon Day (U.S.A.).
- 3 August: Picnic Day, Australia.
- 4 August: Louis Armstrong’s Birthday (1901).
- 4 August: Barack Obama’s Birthday (1961).
- 5 August: National Waffle Day (U.S.A.).
- 5 August: Neil Armstrong’s Birthday (1930).
- 6 August: Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Birthday (1809).
- 6 August: Alexander Fleming’s Birthday (1881).
- 6 August: Hiroshima Bombed (1945).
- 7 August: Lynn Cox swam the Beiring Straight (1987).
- 7 August: National Lighthouse Day.
- 9 August: International Art Appreciation Day.
- 9 August: Jesse Owens won four Olympic gold Medals (1936).
- 10 August: Herbert Hoover (1874).
- 10 August: S’Mores Day.
- 10 August: Construction began on Mt Rushmore (1927).
- 10 August: Lazy Day.
- I am sure you can think of nothing to do on this day!!!
- 11 August: Play in the Sand Day.
- 12 August: IBM PC Announced.
- 13 August: Annie Oakley’s Birthday (1860) .
- 13 August: International Left-Handed Day.
- 15 August: Julia Child’s Birthday (1912).
- 15 August: Joke Day.
- 15 August: Roller Coaster Day (first patented in 1898).
- 17 August: Davy Crockett Born (1786-1836):
- 18 August: Meriwether Lewis’s Birthday (1744-1809).
- 18 August: Bad Poetry Day.
- 19 August: Wilbur Wright Born (1867).
- 19 August: Potato Day.
- 21 August: Mona Lisa Stolen (1911).
- 23 August: National Sponge Cake Day.
- 24 August: Waffle Iron Patented (1869).
- 24 August: Mount Vesuvius Erupted (79).
- 24 August: First Swimmer crossed the English Channel (1875).
- 25 August: National Banana Split Day (U.S.A).
- 26 August: National Dog Day (U.S.A.).
- 26 August: Woman’s Vote Day.
- 27 August: Mother Theresa’s Birthday (1910).
- 28 August: Dream Day – Martin Luther King Jr.(1963).
- 30 National Melted Marshmallow Day (U.S.A.).
- 30 August: Cleopatra committed suicide day (30 BC).
Tags: Celebrity Calendar
I said I would be bringing you a week of blog posts about my trip to Zambia with GreenPop… and the post are just going to have to keep on rolling out, there are a few posts still to come and for once I am hoping that the week will somehow extend itself by a few days. The series began with the rationale behind the trip, followed by the question Can You Travel Southern Africa by Bus? and a priorety for most folk considering a trip into the wilds, a post on Just What is for Dinner from an Eco-Friendly Kitchen?
If you have a yearning for the great outdoors then this could be the spot…
Life in the GreenPop Campsite begins with the most friendliest welcome you could ever imagine…
Each new person get’s to announce their arrival on the drum… I think I could work on my drumming skills somewhat. Then again, this is a place where skills aren’t nearly as important as enthusiasm and being eager to learn ranks high on everyone’s agenda.
A Tour of the Green Village
The very first thing was a quick tour of the surroundings…
Welcome to the campsite… who wouldn’t want to camp out on the African plains. Just the basics… where you sleep, where you eat, the bathrooms and the fab outdoor showers… While we didn’t have to cook at all, we did have to know where to wash our dishes…
Naturally there were piles of important looking tools… buckets and spades being somewhat critical to the week ahead.
Then there was the nursery where baby trees were kept for planting…
And the recycling centre because this is a zero-waste campsite and all the stuff that you could possibly toss out… went somewhere extremely useful.
While the campsite was dark at night – there were fairy lights to lead the way, everywhere…
Of course Zambia is Africa and like all of us prone to load shedding… and when fairly lights didn’t do the trick there were the stars. Oh the magnificent stars…
A Day in the Life
Just before dawn the drum would heave its first call to us, and then again 45 minutes later at breakfast time. This gave me 45 minutes to read and I got through quite a few books while I was there. Dawn and breakfast was closely followed by circle time… something that my children have being trying to avoid at all costs since I got home…
At circle time folk were assigned their project for the day and there were a lot of projects to choose from. GreenPop’s idea to plant trees within local communities involves a fair amount of education and inspiration alongside it, and morning projects involved tree planting, mural painting, and workshops. As soon as we were allocated our group we bussed out to local schools or villages or a community farm… to meet folk and work alongside them.
Most of the morning was spent planting and learning with local folk… school children, farmers and villagers… I wish there had been more time. I really enjoyed meeting the friendly folk who lived there and learning about their lives and their experiences.
GreenPop is so much more than planting trees, there is a real vibey interaction with the local folk and projects going on the entire time you are there, enabling to choose to relax or join in, rest or learn more.
Photo Credit: Marike Herselman
There is a real sense that you are there to find your own rhythm and folk always welcoming you to join them on a project, but you can choose what you would like to join in. There is a chance to dive in and try everything… and there was still plenty of time to catch your breath.
Then home for late lunch and a rest…
I took a shower in the middle of the day – cold showers in the great outdoors… and it is really quite hot in the day and more than warm enough to enjoy them. Followed by a nap and some journaling… this is the view from my tent as the sun sinks at the end of the day.
There is plenty to do at the end of the day, but that’s in the next post, before the sun goes down on another glorious sunset:
And after dinner there was always a campfire to stay close to – the nights are really really cold. When they say bring warm gear for the nights they were not even slightly kidding.
After an evening around the campfire folk were fairly eager to dive into bed… I borrowed a sleeping bag and a blanket and rolled up like a pancake every night and slept until dawn.
Tags: Green Living · Outings · Zambia
I am bringing you blog posts about Zambia. It is a series in progress on my recent trip to Zambia with GreenPop. I have to say I am so excited about it and I have dozens of posts up my sleeve… I am trying to limit myself to the ones that will most interest our readers. Firstly, I wrote the se7en stories behind a trip to Zambia, followed by just how to get there. And today I am bringing you something that I think is pretty much a top priority for readers all over the world. Food… and the feasting in Zambia.
Photo Credit: Marike Herselman
Meet Amanda the talent behind providing fabulous meal after fabulous meal in a eco-friendly kitchen, amidst a sea of environmentalists. The challenges are enormous, the task unending and she did it with joy. I asked her a couple of questions about the eco-conscious kitchen and just how hard it was to achieve with at least a hundred folk present and hungry for meals three times a day, everyday, for a couple of weeks. I tell you it makes my making 30 meals a day, everyday, look just a little lame. She did have a brilliant team, of ever friendly faces helping her… but still the task was enormous and she was great. You can catch up with her at her Boutique Deli, Saucisse, at the Biscuit Mill in Woodstock.
Se7en Questions and Answers About Feasting in an Eco-Friendly Kitchen, And A Bonus Recipe
- Tell Us About Sourcing Local Ingredients:
Due to the over priced expense of dry pantry ingredients in Livingston we had to begin our food journey from Cape Town. I was able to source the best quality pulses and grains for the best prices from local businesses in the area. We had to travel with 340kgs of dry pantry ingredients up to Zambia. Once we arrived in Livingston our focus shifted to trying to stock our pantry with only local, seasonal, and eco-friendly produce. I have managed to build a relationship with a few local farmers surrounding the Livingston guest farm who we purchased from on a daily basis, keeping the veg as fresh as possible at all times as we only had a very small domestic fridge. During the month of July the vegetables in season are, Rape, Chinese cabbage, Cabbage, eggplant, green beans, carrots, white onions and very little pumpkin. Our Kitchen took on this challenge with great enthusiasm, and produced delicious versatile meals daily.
- How Did You Minimise the Use of Power in Your Kitchen?
The most important task of keeping a sustainable kitchen is trying to leave as little footprint as possible and try to use the resources that have as little impact on our surroundings. The cause for Livingston’s huge deforestation problem starts in the kitchen. Electricity is so expensive that the cheapest way to cook food is on charcoal burning cookers. During our stay in Zambia our kitchen did not use 1 piece of charcoal. Our cooking methods included solar cooking, Wonderbags, gas, and a very small amount of electricity. Each week we only used 7 hours of electricity in our kitchen. That is for 3 meals per day cooking for 120 people each meal. The main uses of electricity was to toast the bread in the morning and to bake bread in the evenings. Solar cooking is slightly trickier than the use of Wonderbags or gas as you have to follow and maintain the suns power during the day. They are extremely efficient in the correct environment. Cooking for a family or medium sized group works perfectly but cooking in such mass like at the festival of action the loss of a fallen pot is not taken too lightly. Because the solar cooker is very light weight, windy conditions can cause the cooker to fall over due to such heavy pots leaning in the front. If the cooker is used correctly you are able to boil a large kettle of water within 20 min with no problem. We are able to support the use of solar cooking by utilising our Wonderbags. Wonderbags are like large cushions that insulate your warm pots and continue cooking for up to 6 hours after removing the pots from direct heat like gas or solar. Obviously the thought process into your meals is far greater and a conscious effort to cook slow food rather than quick fix fuel guzzler meals is the way forward. Solar cooking would begin by 10am in the morning and then placed in the Wonderbags to finish the cooking thought the day. Chicken stew only used a maximum of 30 min on gas then the rest of the day in Wonderbags. The meat literally will be falling off the bones by the evening. Rice, Chickpeas, lentils and even soup ingredients are perfect for Wonderbag use. My gang fully intend to build a solar oven for our courtyard and a Wonderbag is top of my list for next things to invest in).
- In a Zero Waste Campsite, How Did The Kitchen Cope?
Another challenge that our kitchen took on during the festival was to create a zero waste policy. All our Plastic, Glass, Tin, and paper/ cardboard was stored separately and fully recycled or turned into *Ecobricks. The Zero waste policy also includes our food. We try to upcycle all leftover food into new delicious healthy creative meals for the next day where possible. Extra breakfast oats would be turned into our date balls used as snacks during planting days, as well as deep fried doughnuts for desserts. Left over salads from lunch can be used to fill a soup or add to a stew. This is always my favourite challenge of them all as it really pushes the creative juices. Restaurants around the globe are well known for their careless waste of perfectly good food. Once you have gotten to know the farmers and realise how long it takes them to grow such beautiful eco conscious fruit and veg the last place I would want to see it is in the bin. All our organic waste is also placed into composting holes where many varieties of veggies started to grow after last year’s festival. This can also be used as mulch for planting. Being able to buy our dry pantry products in bulk helped eliminate many of the packaging issues we suffered the year before. For example Instead of each kg of oats coming in its own box we were able to buy large 25kg bags. *I am going to blog about Eco-Bricks, but basically they are plastic bottles filled with non-recyclable waste and then used as bricks.
- Just How Did You Feed A Hungry Crowd of Tree Planting Volunteers?
Our menu had to be sustainable, ethical, and not expensive as all monies coming into the festival should be used on the trees and ongoing projects in Livingston. However using our creative minds we were able to achieve this with no problem. We cooked mostly vegan meals with the inclusion of dairy into a few meals, as well as having 2 chicken nights a week and 2 egg mornings a week. Even though charcoal burning is a major cause of deforestation, meat production sits at the top of the list. As we did not want to push people too far out of their comfort zones these extra protein packed meals where included for the Non Vegans. We were able to purchase our chickens and eggs from free range farms in Livingston. Going about it in the most ethical way possible. All meals included very healthy grains and starches as well as the mixture of vegetables available from the surrounding farms. Keeping our planters filled with energy out on the farms. Homemade muesli, oats, porridge and fresh fruit for breakfast, followed by a choice of 3 types of salads for lunch finished with delicious stews, curries and soups with homemade bread for dinners. This year we also included a tradition meal to choose from in the evenings that usually included Nshima (Pap), a vegetable relish with ground nuts or beans. This was prepared b y our local kitchen guys each day. Giving the volunteers a chance to not only eat our western style cuisine.
- How Did You Keep The Breakfasts So Interesting?
The next big challenge is keeping our meals exciting. Serving oats and porridge each day calls for some exciting flavours. Rooibos and cinnamon, Raison and toasted coconut, Apricot and rooibos, Chocolate, Strawberry, Banana and cinnamon and our very favourite coffee… where among the many we made.
- So Many Beautiful Salads for Lunch:
Our pre ordering in Cape Town made our salad selections possible. The use of pearl barley, Buckwheat, rice noodles and seeds helped keep our creativity at a high. Incorporating them with seasonal produce and power packed flavours kept everyone going long into the afternoon. Some favourites where our Asian noodle salads, mushroom risotto style barley with fresh leaves and fresh Moroccan style buckwheat salads.
- So Many Delicious Dinners:
Dinner every night helps if you can make a one pot wonder with yummy sides. Being able to start prep in the morning and allow to keep cooking in the Wonderbags during the day saved time to be able to produce such fresh healthy salads for lunch. The use of chick peas and lentils where very present in many meals as they are a very high source of protein. Being able to upcycle many of the lunch leftovers into dinner also created a unique style of cooking for us. Many of our dinner favourites where All day wonderbaged veggie soup topped with braised cabbage and herbed bread, chicken and carrot stew, Lentil and chick pea sloppy Joes with homemade slaw and spiced green bean and rape dhal served with toasted masala chick peas.
And a Brilliant Bonus Bread Recipe, Thanks to Amanda.
Let’s Meet the Players:
- 1 kg flour
- 10g sugar
- 10g salt
- 10g yeast
Let’s Play the Game in Se7en Steps:
Huge Thank You to Amanda of Saucisse Boutique Deli, for a week of fabulous feasting and for this blog post.
- Place your flour in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add your sugar and yeast in the well. Add 100ml warm water into the centre and mix the yeast and the sugar. Leave for 10 min for the yeast to activate.
- Place your salt around the edges of the bowl far from the yeast and sugar as the salt will stop the yeast from activating.
- Once you have activated the yeast you can start incorporating more warm water and mixing the whole time until you form a very soft almost wet dough.
- Leave the dough in the same bowl for an hour or so until it is light and fluffy. Try place it in a warm spot to help with the proving of the dough.
- Once the dough has proved, place into the tray you would like to bake in.
- Allow to proof for a second time till light and fluffy and back in a hot oven 200 Degrees Celsius for 12 to 20 min till golden brown.
- You are able to add any flavours you like to the dough. Add after the yeast has activated.
Tags: Celebration Bread · Green Living · Monday Munchies · Zambia
So Zambia is a fair way away from Cape Town and if you know me, traveling by sea is always the first choice… Hmmm, Zambia is land locked. So plane, bus, or road tripping, take your pick. One chap did ride all the way from Cape Town on his motorbike! Honestly I was thrilled to be gifted with bus tickets. When folk heard I was traveling by bus there would be stunned silence, followed by a pause and then “Shame…” I have to say, ever the optimist, I was looking forward to it. I haven’t traveled far and wide in Africa and I would love to see what’s out there. Of course a bus trip is not a road trip in the road tripping sense of the word – so you don’t get to stop and linger at places of interest. You have to go where the bus goes. Well… mostly. Connections are typically a couple of hours apart. If your bus is late you don’t really have time to linger and explore and typically bus depot’s are not in the best part of town anyway. Anyway, I was so keen and set off with enthusiasm…
Cape Town to Windhoek
Armed with a slew of tickets I headed for the bus depot at the crack of dawn on the day of departure. I have never caught anything other than a neighbourhood bus before and I haven’t travelled with more than hand luggage either. If you follow along you will know that I naturally travel light. But in the spirit of taking some care of myself for a change, I had a bag of luggage with my sleeping bag, and a couple of cables, including my Nikon battery charger… and new jeans and a couple of T’s and gifts from my sweet family. Gardening gloves, a sun hat, a camping towel… and heaps of hiking socks. Anyhow, I was worried my luggage would weigh too much – um… no!!! Folks had huge bags packed with stuff, all shapes and sizes… it appeared that what ever you have gets popped on the trailer and you are good to go. Everyone arrives at the last minute and I have no idea how the bus leaves on time, but they do. Then we were off… very pleasant – a sleep liner is a fairly fancy thing… double story, plenty of leg room, and a couple of hours into the trip it broke down. We sat for four hours on the side of the road – it was extremely pleasant. As Shrek says, better out than in – a fellow two seats down had been eating pickled fish sandwiches, you cannot begin to imagine the delicate aroma. Definitely a case of better out (the bus) than in.
No one complained, we were out in the country, the view was spectacular, and the weather balmy… and the air fresh!!!
Eventually another bus arrived and our driver decided to try out the bus we had been sitting beside – it turned on, we got on, and we went on. On until nightfall… and on into the night. The buses stop every couple of hours and there were two fairly yackety gals in the seats alongside me keeping me entertained.
I wasn’t expecting quite such a hectic border crossing – but then something about border crossings is always a little stressful. The South African side was a quick stamp… The Namibian was a lot more formal and a search of our luggage, ourselves, our pockets. And then it was pretty much straight on until Windhoek, past a glorious sunrise and on into the following morning.
Naturally because of the breakdown, my couple of hours waiting between buses was… minimal. My vision of Windhoek was a glance at the station…
And 4X4’s and taxis everywhere. Carrying my luggage, almost from one bus to the next without pause.
Windhoek to Livingstone
Back on the Bus at lunchtime and heading to the very north of Namibia… I have never even heard the names of some of these places before… just to say folk “onned and offed” the bus continuously. In fact throughout the night the bus stopped and started. The one guy next to me was a ranger who “worked with leopards and stuff in the wild” and he was going home to his girl for the weekend. A man of few words, he went straight to sleep and got off some time during the night. Yet again the aromas of weird and maybe not so wonderful sandwiches filled the air… and it appears that the whole of Northern Namibia has places to be, other than where they are, on a Friday night.
Next morning the landscape had changed dramatically from desert to scrubby woodland and we arrived uneventfully at the border post. I literally walked into Zambia, they appeared pleased to see me. Literally a quick look down my throat, that was the Ebola check, and a stamp in my passport. Other folk took hours, for once there was an advantage to having a South African passport in hand (all those hours at Home Affairs paid off). The folk from further afield definitely had a slightly harder time getting into Zambia and there was a lot of last minute trying to find dollars to pay for Visas going on. The one big advantage to traveling by bus, rather than on your own, is that the bus driver somehow knows everyone who works at the border posts and keeps everyone rolling through. It took at least three hours of driving through potholes and avoiding goats before we reached our destination of . And I was fairly excited that the bus took us through a game park… ever the optimist hoping to see actual wildlife – not domesticated goats mind you, something a little more wild. Needless to say there was nothing wild and I got to Livingstone unscathed. There were some delightful Greenpop folk there to meet me and alas… no luggage of mine appeared to be on the bus.
This, folks, is exactly why I normally only travel with hand luggage. I can say that at all the stops the bus company opened up the luggage compartments, and folks took their bags, and there was not a lot of checking bags against baggage numbers at all. In fact the only time they checked my baggage number on the entire trip was when I claimed my bag wasn’t there. At which stage I had to prove I had put my bag on the bus. I can say that the driver said he would look into it and then gave us his phone number. Only it wasn’t his phone number (like seriously the oldest trick in the book). So there I was in the middle of a busy Saturday morning market, crazy hectic stuff going on all around me, after forty eight hours on a bus. Frankly it is just stuff, but it was stuff that friends had treated me with – not to mention I can no longer charge my camera, unless I spend a heap of cash on a new battery charger (blogging is going to be slow without a camera folks!!!). Honestly, my personal campaign to take a little extra care of myself was being thwarted right at the start. It took everything in me not to think “that’s what happens when you take care of yourself…” I was determined to stay on track and fill up my bucket… even though that niggling voice was saying, “don’t bother.” I put the voice to rest, and I did fill my bucket with sleep and good food and hard work and making friends. I can tell you that it is possible to survive ten days of tree planting and camping, in exactly one pair of jeans and one t-shirt, we won’t mention socks and undies. Just saying… it can be done, but you may not want to sit next to that person on the way home afterwards.
Insert a Week of Treemendous Fun
Livingstone – Bullawayo
After a week of the best fun ever I had to wake up on my day of departure at 04:45… I will not mention what time we got to bed the previous night on account of the Earth Fest Event… but I was very glad that I would have a bus trip to recover on… and on… and on. I didn’t take the same route home, I love that. I am a firm believer in seeing as much as I possibly can. My next bus trip was actually departing from over the border in Zimbabwe, yes, a number of countries meet at the magnificent Victoria Falls. So about a 45 minute drive from camp, with the heater on max, I cannot express how cold the nights are, took me to the border, and this time I was traveling a lot lighter. If I haven’t mentioned before, then now is the time… Zambia is the friendliest country I have ever been in. And when the cab driver saw that the border post wasn’t open yet he waited with me until everything was up and functioning. I am eternally grateful. Over the border took literally a moment. And another taxi, across the famous bridge… to the Zambian border, I was well pleased that I had hung on to a couple of Kwatcha (Zambian money), because I hadn’t taken that little ride into account… but in the pitch dark and loads of trucks all around, I wasn’t about to walk it. Needless to say passing the Victoria Falls in the dark of the night and just seeing this wall of white emerge and retreat is one of my best life “gasping” experiences ever.
From the Zimbabwe border crossing to the Livingstone Hotel you will need another taxi ride… these are all 2km-ish rides and perfectly walkable in the day. The cab drivers here want US dollars, they will ask for 20 but the going rate is 10. It is perfectly acceptable to discuss a price before you get going. I can say that absolutely nothing was happening at the Livingstone Hotel at the break of dawn, not even coffee. But a bus arrived and a couple of travellers got on… followed by a spectacular drive through Northern Zimbabwe… a really beautiful part of the world and I would definitely head back there for more than a “visit-in-transit.”
Bulawayo – Johannesburg
The bus arrived on the streets of Bulawayo at lunch time and in typical Zambian and Zimbabwean style a fruit cart provided lunch. I traveled beside an elderly gentlemen from Livingstone to Bulawayo… easy chatting, and it is quite good to have a friendly face that ensures you are back on the bus before they take off from a stop. Otherwise, every time the bus stopped in Zimbabwe seemed to be at a “Fried Chicken TakeAways!!!”
I had bottled water and biscuits to keep me happy, I just couldn’t face fried chicken… and on through the really beautiful country side of Zimbabwe. I have no idea why, I never expected Zimbabwe to be so colourful and vibrant and beautiful. I sat next to a really nice guy from Bulawayo all the way to Gauteng, we chatted and dozed, and I was very glad to have someone who knew what was going on at the border with me. The bus stopped at about 5 in the afternoon for a last pit-stop before the border crossing, by then it is dark, the lights were out and the entire bus went to sleep… we needed too. The border crossing from Zimbabwe into South Africa was something to behold. We got there at eight in the evening and only passed through border control at about 01:30 in the morning. Let’s just say, these guys make Home Affairs look helpful. It was absolute chaos, thousands of people literally mobbing the counters with their passports and I made full use of my grey hair, and “elderly status” to clear a path to the counter. There are so many folk passing through the border that they literally don’t even have a chance to glance at passports before stamping them. Then you wait out in the freezing cold for your luggage to pass through the one and only screen. No wonder it takes hours. Back on the bus and we were off… well except for a burst tyre things were uneventful before arriving in Johannesburg in the morning traffic.
Johannesburg – Cape Town
I had a couple of hours in Johannesburg. I was feeling particularly grubby after more than a day on the bus already, not to mention wearing the same pair of jeans the entire week I was in Zambia… because ahem, no luggage. I thought I would freshen up in the bathroom before meeting my marvellous friend Marcia, in the station. Let me just say one of the worst bathroom experiences I have ever experienced. EVER. Filthy dirty, I get no loo paper, I kind of expect that… but doors on the cubicles would be nice. Actually, I am just going to say grim. And if you find yourself needing a bathroom at Johannesburg station… go elsewhere. Even smelly as I was, it was so good to meet up with a friend, oh my, I was now in the home straight, and longing for home…
I am guessing that only in Johannesberg can a taxi that looks like this drive past you, while you are on a bus. Seriously. Otherwise the view from the bus was pretty much rooftops… I have to say that this was the only part of the journey that I didn’t feel particularly safe… in fact I slept on top of my bag, because I didn’t think it would be there when I woke up otherwise. The truth is you can’t always be surrounded by well wishing travellers.
Until we hit the endless open road of the Free State.
And another glorious African sunset.
The Question Is, Can You Travel Through Southern Africa by Bus?
The answer is a galactic yes, it was fun, it was leisurely, I got to see so much more than I would ever have seen on a plane. I also got to meet some really lovely folk from all over Southern Africa and I loved that. I did lose my luggage and it doesn’t look like the bus company will do anything about it… other than tell me I should have a police report. That’s a whole ‘nother story, but I did spend my last morning in Zambia trying to get a police report. The fact is you can have your luggage stolen on any form of transport. If I was traveling by plane, then the automatic travel insurance would have covered me when I bought the ticket, I didn’t by the bus ticket myself and it appears that bus companies don’t have the same policy. So no camera charger, no sleeping bag, not to mention my ZANA bag that I won last year. Lesson learnt, I will never travel with more than hand luggage again. But I would definitely travel by bus again, in fact I would definitely take all my kids and their hand luggage, on a bus trip across Southern Africa. Fact is, this confirmed my belief that one doesn’t actually need a car. If you are keen to go on a great African Safari… just hop on a bus and enjoy the ride!!!
Tags: Outings · Zambia