Saturday, December 29, 2012

African Adventure, part 2

Loading our luggage rack in the airport parking lot, about 1 am.  The girls arrived with no problems, except that their cellphones wouldn't work in Zambia!
I last left you with our departure from the Lusaka Airport.  We drove through Lusaka, and then onto the  road to Livingstone.  It was dark, and more than a bit eerie.  Because the car was overloaded, our headlights were aimed quite high.  In the US, that might mean something, but here in Zambia headlights are not aimed.  We had several large trucks headed the opposite direction that nearly blinded us.  Several had headlights pointed in different directions.  What it meant for us, though, was that as soon as the approaching car was near us they hi-beamed, just to, you know, let us know they weren't pleased.  Sheesh!  Like we didn't really know.

Tom was our sole driver, and we all tried to keep him alert.  Finally, about 3:30 am, he found a wide spot (not an easy thing to find) to pull over.  They are referred to as lay-bys here.  What we needed was one not near any roadside stands.  After all, we wanted to rest, not to have to set guard so the cargo loaded on top wouldn't be pilfered while we slept.

After about 1 1/2 hours of rest, and dawn breaking, we got back onto the road.  All this time we had been gaining altitude, and moving up and down hilly roads.  Just as we rounded a long, blind curve and back onto a wide, straight and flat road we had a tire blow out!  It felt like all those rumble strips built into the roads where towns or large trading areas are established piled into one long line.  Tom was able to pull over, but just barely.  We drove a little way to get to this spot which afforded us to at least not be in the lane of travel.

Not a single house/hut in sight.  Tom and Peter proceeded to get it jacked up, another challenge.  Our extra blue tarp came in handy as they had to get under the car to reach the jack and work the handle.  It took all their strength to get it jacked up, just enough to get the flat up enough to change the tire.
Tom and Peter getting ready to take the flat tire off.  Little did we know the 4-way spanner was a piece of junk!  Like everything else, the extension for the jack was missing parts (like the original spanner) so they had to get under the vehicle to work the jack.
 Then, as luck was not really with us, the 4-way wrench we had was twisting out of shape.  Made in China strikes again, the steel was not hardened, and the 4-way was quickly becoming a pretzel.  We went on expedition (knowing we were walking through truly wild land, snakes and all) looking for rocks we could use as a hammer.  The piddly tool kit we had left at the Chingola house might have helped, but then again, might not have.

After searching for about 10 minutes we located two rocks.  Tom started to try to pound the wrench back onto the lug nuts, which were tight, tight, tight!  Nothing budged.  How much more stranded could we be?  There is nothing like AAA of Zambia to help travelers out!  Just as we began more earnest prayers for an angel to come help us out, Peter saw a larger, pick-up size vehicle coming from the opposite direction.  All of us began to wave them over.  They drove past, then slowed down and backed up.  Fortunately it was a native Zambian, of Indian descent on his way to Lusaka for morning prayers.

He also happened to be driving a Land Cruiser, and the lug nuts were the same size.  His wrench was original to his new vehicle, and worked great!  He also looked at the tire and said we'd need to replace it, and recommended the same for all the tires.  We had just been having a conversation about how soon the tires would need to be replaced.  We were still over 3 hours from Livingstone, and didn't want to attempt those same hilly roads back to Lusaka.

He gave us his cellphone number, told us to call when we got to Livingstone.  Turned out he owns and runs one of the larger blue bus lines in the Lusaka area, and had a friend connected with Auto World.

Back on the road after our "angel" Flash stopped to help us.

Outside of one of the towns between where we had the flat and Livingstone.  No tire shops, not that we could have even come close to finding a replacement!

One of the many double semi's traveling the same route as we were.
The reason for this picture, other than to show the road, is to show the road.  The surface, that is.  Notice that as we got closer to Livingstone (the tourist mecca) the roads were beautiful!  Real paint on the road, wider lanes and real paved shoulders.  It was a pleasure to ride on these.  On the way home, we noticed the incremental demise of the roads.  And of course, the worst is the road that connects Chingola with Kitwe, the beginning of our route!

Entering Livingstone, and civilization.
That arranged, we got back on the road, and after the unevenness of the tire seemed to smooth out, Tom got us to Livingstone and in the parking lot for Auto World by 8:45 am.  He gave "Flash" a call, and after half an hour he had, through his connection, arranged for a 20% discount on a new set of tires.
Our Patrol in the shop.  It took them little time to remove the tires.
One hour later, still waiting to install the newly mounted tires.  
Paid with cash, which is about the only way you can!  We had plenty of bundles, but could easily see them slipping away with these types of unexpected costs.

Livingstone, ready to drive to our lodging.
Mary waiting outside the Livingstone Museum.

We waited a bit, a long bit, nothing is quick in Zambia, but finally the Patrol had new shoes.  Tom bought a better spanner while we were waiting.

Then we were off to the Maramba River Lodge.  Fortunately, our chalets were ready and they let us in early (about 11 am) so we could shower, eat lunch, unpack, and then head out to see Victoria Falls.

Maramba River Lodge, quite a welcome sight, and relief.  We didn't really know what we were booking when we made reservations in November!  Last I checked they have it up for sale!  Tempting ...
More on that, later.

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