I headed off to Livingstone, Zambia, after spending my afternoon exploring the mighty Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean side.
Experiencing Zimbabwe and Zambia on Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary was special.
These two countries had supported Ghana’s first President Dr Kwame Nkrumah during the struggle for independence from the British, so it meant a lot to me. I remember the name of former Zambian President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda so well and I looked forward to seeing the Zambia he left behind.
As I got my exit stamp out of Zimbabwe, I spoke to a young lady who was heading towards Zambia. I asked how far and safe the border crossing was and we pretty much walked from the Zimbabwean border to the Zambian border.
I will not recommend this at night or when you are alone carrying valuables.
On our way, to the Zambian border, I could still catch glimpses of the Victorian Falls from the bridge that I presume people bungee jumped from.
Before giving me a Zambian visa, which cost about $60, the immigration official on duty took delight in counting my visas from various countries, and asking me questions about my travels, but gave up knowing I had 3 passports clipped together. I still don’t know why they clip old and new Ghanaian passports together. I have to find out. It sure has its plus and minuses.
Once I came out of immigration, there were a number of moneychangers and taxis willing to take me to the guesthouse.
The lady I crossed the border with was very helpful. She helped me navigate the moneychangers and taxi drivers. I got a really great reception when people found out I was Ghanaian. They had really nice things to say about my people, its famous footballers who have been to the world cup and of course my country. The first time I experienced this welcoming reception was in Mali and Senegal back in 2010, I think. It was a strange, but happy feeling to hear people speak really well of Ghana and Ghanaians.
My new friend wanted to make sure I was okay, so she joined me in the taxi to take me to my guesthouse. (Always judge the moment, as this can go very wrong.) I paid a little extra for the taxi to take her home. She refused, but I insisted. I was impressed with my taxi driver. He drove safely and was very intelligent. He gave me so much insight into his country more than he will ever know. It is one of those positive taxi rides; I don’t intend to ever forget.
I had also daydreamed of visiting Zambia and feeding my curiosity about what David Livingstone saw and the impact he made to have a whole town named after him.
But, everything that could go wrong for a tired traveller in Zambia almost did go wrong.
Picture this, I get to my guesthouse and the promised Wi-Fi was not available. A reliable Internet connection has become a basic human need for digital nomads like me. The owner of the guesthouse said there was some heavy rains two days prior to my arrival and had affected the phone lines. The owner gave me access to his computer and personal Wi-Fi, prompt response on his part, but I couldn’t do much, it was weak and ultimately slow. The fact that I couldn’t use my phone, but the owner’s computer did not help. He was automatically signed on and logging him out might create problems if he did not remember his passwords.
I did, however, negotiate for a discount on my room and got one.
I was so hungry, but they had no food. They offered to make me some fries for about $3. The fries came soaked in oil and ketchup. As you can imagine, I ate very little.
I got to my room and found ants going for their convention by my window and bed.
The ants were not the threatening kind and I was way too tired to have a conversation with them, so I went to sleep. Luckily I had a mosquito net because I was in no mood to fight Zambian mosquitoes.
It is true what they say; sometimes everything looks the same in the dark. I looked out of my bedroom window in the morning and was greeted by a slightly depressing view. It was no lush green gardens; it just looked like an abandoned mechanic shop. Good, they advertised the front view and a few rooms so well.
The soap in the bathroom got me into a sneezing festival, luckily I had my own to use.
Breakfast wasn’t any better, the milk had gone bad. All it had was lumps. My sugar had ants. I have no issue with ants, I just prefer them outside.
My omelette was soaked in so much oil, I had to use my tissue to dab it off without any luck. As I picked the bread to put butter on it, the bread fell.
The staff was kind but clueless. I decided to offer a free fifteen to thirty minutes of customer service training for the staff on duty, but they were not keen to learn and had a number of excuses. At this point, I gave up. After all, you cannot give to anyone with a closed fist.
I had had enough and wanted to get out faster than I came in. And so I put all the misfortunes behind me to explore Livingstone town.
I was quite impressed with the layout of the town.
It felt very safe too. I was even more impressed with the Livingstone museum.
It deserves a blog post on its own. Definitely, a must visit. It is by far the best and well-curated museum I had seen in the world.
I haven’t seen every museum in the world, but this will hold a special place in my memory.
My young guide; John was very impressive; he was knowledgeable and took pride in his work. He made me proud. Way to go young African!
As I was heading back to the guesthouse to catch my flight to the airport, I thought of how my time in Zambia would have been completely ruined, had I just focused on the bad experiences of the night before and the morning. Had I let those experiences affect my mood, I would have missed out on such a beautiful city with calm and lovely people. This was not the worse experience in the world. It was a question of my mindset defining the experience. Mind over matter and I am glad my mind won.
A bad day really does not equal a bad life indeed. I have learnt to shake things off and move on. It is not worth your energy. Even when the taxi I took to the airport refused to give me my change, I shook it off. When the airport staff was being difficult, I shook it off and carried on. What do you do when things seem to go wrong?