I decided to take a weekend jaunt to Livingstone, to see the famous Victoria Falls. Because we have a half-day on Friday, I could grab an early-afternoon bus from the inter-city bus station in Lusaka and hopefully be in Livingstone by 9:00pm…or 2100, as they say here.
The most reputable bus company is called Mazhandu, but they did not have a bus leaving in the afternoon, so I opted for Shalom bus lines instead. You cannot buy your ticket on-line, as you can in the states; instead, they recommend that you go into the city the day before to purchase. I was unable to do that (I got my car back finally, but that’s another story) but I was able to reserve a seat on the 1400 bus with the promise to pay on the day.
One of the drivers from school took me into the city and boy was I glad he did. The inter-city bus station is an absolute madhouse. As you drive in, representatives from various bus companies try to convince you that you have booked your trip with them and try to direct you to various bus kiosks. Buses are coming and going and backing up into spaces you would never believe a bus could fit. People are milling around with huge baskets of produce on their heads – oranges, pineapples, bananas – trying to sell them to the other people, who are lining up at the various kiosks to buy tickets.
I was the only white person there and I got some curious looks.
I finally got my ticket and found my seat on the bus, which left a little bit after 1400. Except that this was actually the 1300 bus. At any rate, the bus was a modern coach, the seats reclined, there was decent leg room, curtains on the windows to block out the sun and air conditioning. Again, I got some curious (but not unfriendly) looks and one young man called out something about a “mzungu” on the bus and grinned at me as he asked if the air-con was adjusted correctly. I grinned back and told him that I was a very happy mzungu. He laughed.
There was music playing on the bus. Loud music, all throughout the bus speakers. Loud, repetitive contemporary Christian praise music…some in English, some in African dialect. And this was interspersed with preaching. Loud, repetitive preaching.
For the entire trip, which ended up taking 8 hours.
I did see some interesting sites before the sun set. A big, open trailer full of piglets, being towed by a blue mini-van. Several cows and a calf on a similar trailer, looking as mournful as only cows can. Women and children carrying impossibly large loads of firewood on their heads. Thatched, round huts and little paths leading off the road to distant cottages and huts. The ubiquitous AirTel top-up shacks. People sitting right at the edge of the road, selling bags of tomatoes and onions.
And trash. Mountains of trash…plastic bags, plastic bottles, styrofoam containers, bags from chips and candy wrappers. All strewn along the side of the road and in the abutting fields.
I finally arrived in Livingstone, grabbed a cab to my guest house and fell into a very comfortable bed. Today, I visit the falls!