Monday, December 29, 2008

Hippos for breakfast (Dec. 8/08 - Luangwa River, Zambia)

After a hot, restless sleep thanks to the noisy peacocks outside, we woke to a pair of hippos lounging in the water out front as we ate our breakfast. It was another long day of driving, as we traveled back up over the hills to the main highway, headed for Lusaka. We stopped at a shopping mall that could have been anywhere in the US so Francis could get some groceries and the rest of us could run necessary errands.

For the most part, the road was flat and straight, as we drove past countless tiny villages of thatched houses and roadside markets. We pulled over for lunch in the shade of a big tree, and after we finished, Ben and Kendra loaded all the leftover potato salad and bananas into a bowl and took it over to the crew of road workers who had been eyeing the big spread of food from a distance. It probably made their week!

At the end of the day, we pulled into a rough dirt road that skirted the Luangwa River. A few kilometres later, we came to a bush camp in the middle of nowhere only a few kilometres from the Mozambique border, which would be home sweet home for the night. It even had a nice bar and pool with a view of the river, and the local kids ran along the road hoping to play with all of us white people. As I was walking back to our tent, I heard a "pssst!" coming from the rock wall to my right, and I turned to see an adorable little kid motioning for me to come over. He said hello and then asked very politely if I had a pen I could give him. Turns out that kids ask for pens long before they ask for money or candy or anything else! Of course I could spare a pen, so I ran back to the tent and found a pen and a sheet of stickers from my stash that I had been saving for these encounters with local kids. I had to show him how to turn on the pen, and he was clueless about the stickers, so I peeled one off and stuck it on his hand, and another of the shiny yellow happy faces on his cheek. He was thrilled, said thank you in English, and disappeared again behind the wall. Half an hour later when some of our group came back from town, they were having a hard time figuring out what all the reflective yellow things were that all the kids were running around with on their foreheads. Too cute!

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