Tuesday, March 3, 2009

At the Kazungula Ferry

Posted from Livingstone, Zambia

At a Kazungula restaurant Quinn gave Botswana one last goodbye while we waited for fatcakes. Meanwhile, I met Brian and Wisdom.

These two young men, dressed in imitation jerseys and knock-off sunglasses were waiting for Brian's brother to arrive in a truck. They were Zimbabweans on their way to Jo'burg to meet a 'client.' Wisdom asked for my phone number in the U.S. but as I no longer have a phone, I gave him my email instead. I figured he - like everyone else - wanted to come to America, but I was wrong, for next he asked under his breath if I knew anyone who was interested in the white. Ivory, he meant. I told him no, sorry, but asked him more about it.
"This is why we're outgoing with white people," Wisdom said. These two were hunters, he said - which I took to mean poachers, especially because they acknowledged it was a risky endeavor. They travel to South Africa to bring their clients up so that the clients must transport the ivory, not the poachers.

After this encounter we departed Botswana with little more than a "hello," a stamp and a "thank you" at the Kazungula Ferry Border Post.

The other side was a bit more hassle. The first encounter was a man trying to sell 3 trillion Zimbabwe dollar bills.

"Good souvenir," he said, immediately handing it to me and indicating its worthlessness. "Give me some South African change," he went on, but I told him I didn't have any.

"Pula then," he said, asking for Botswana currency. So I pulled out my wallet and showed him the cavernous emptiness.

"Trade for the wallet?" was his next question. I wondered shortly if these were counterfeit, before I came to the conclusion that it would be more expensive to counterfeit Zim dollars than they are worth.

My empty wallet nearly cost us a lot of time and money, for at immigration we were told visas cost $50. There was a money changer where we could get U.S. dollars, said the official, but had no local currency (of any type) with which to exchange, especially not so much. At stake was a trip back across to Botswana (and subsequent questions at immigration about why we were coming back when we had just left) and a 15 km bike ride to the nearest ATM, followed by two money changes: electronically from dollars to Pula, then back to dollars once we reached Zambia again. Fortunately we were able to scrape $250 together from money we had hidden on our bikes, and we rode into Zambia in heavy rain.

Partly it was the rain, but Zambia immediately felt like a different country. It's more humid, more topographical than Botswana. The typical greeting includes "how are you?" and they actually mean it. It's not complete until you assure them that you are well and ask them the same. Here we are in Livingstone, a touristy town next to Victoria Falls, and here we will remain for about another week while Orian flies to Boston to compete for a Hertz Fellowship.


arielrose said...

What is your new phone number for Zambia?

cr said...

if you dont put up pictures of Victoria Falls, I may kill you.

cr said...

on a lighter note...any idea how far youve traveled so far?

Anonymous said...

Hey Nate:
Sounds like an amazing trip so far!
Stay safe and keep us informed.

Anonymous said...

What's up with the disrespect for their attempts at civility?

Nathan Hurst said...

- Ariel: I don't know our phone number for Zambia... sorry.
- Cole: in fear for my own safety, pictures of Vic Falls will be up soon. Also, we've traveled a little over 3000 km.
- Anonymous: I couldn't figure out what you were refering to at first. Please note the water bottle lying next to Quinn's feet. The photo is a joke.

Scott Steuck said...

Hi Nate,
I'm interested in doing a story about your adventures for the Portage County Gazette. Could you e-mail me your e-mail address at countyfare@pcgazette.com? I'm definitely interested in learning more. Thank you,
Scott Steuck
Portage County Gazette

Anonymous said...

Visas for Zambia actually cost $20.


The extra $30 you each paid is a common form of border crossing corruption in Africa.

Joel said...

well dang dude! these are quite some stories you've got rollin. heck yes! do it do it.
i'm not up on specific african country politics - are all your boarder crossing going to be sketchy?
i think i saw you in a beard in one of these pictures, but it's definitely how i see you in my head. rock that shit.
and safe travels friend! to you and all!
peace, joel

Anonymous said...

hi its gustave the one who looked after you guys in livingstone i need you to get hold of me please, email- frank2000@live.co.uk and my telephone number is 00447896298414
this is africa

Anonymous said...

Get hold of me any one of yous,,,are you typical americans who exploit people Amen....get hold of me..


One Love



Gustave here get in touch anyone please... Did route66