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Monday, 01 March 2021

Catching Some Z's: Zambia & Zimbabwe

Written by Richard Taylor
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At some point, between the cataracts and grunting hippos, one starts to grapple with the basics, the real mysteries of life.

For instance, the letter Z.

With Zambia on the left bank, Zimbabwe on the right and my sunset cruiseferrying me down the Zambezi, the riddle of ‘Z’ inevitably crops up. As for the Zambezi itself, I loved it from the first. Loved the name. Africas more famous waterways, the Nile, the Congo, might have their pyramids and gorillas, but if ever a moniker conjured up unscrupulous ivory hunters and Edgar Rice Burroughs, surely it would be the Zambezi.

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Two days prior, the Zimbabwe officials had sold me a dual visa for fifty dollars and I snagged a ride with a South African troupe over No Mans Land (catching a tantalizing glimpse of lofty cliffs and mists and pounding waters), arriving at the Zambian frontier and its town of Livingstone. Tourists crisscross the border frequently; for the falls, for shopping, for helicopter tours, and the Zim/Zam visa quickly pays for itself.

My hotel, on the other hand, was way above my pay grade and protected by electrified fence but one couldnt fault the amenities. Outside the fence, a long tree-lined road curved into Livingston’s tight center with the requisite shops and rental offices, including bungee jump excursions off the Queen Victoria Bridge. Saner folk could book passage on the vintage locomotive that carried passengers daily from one border town to the other. For the moment the train was at rest in a well tended parkette and I pushed my camera through the surrounding fence to take its picture.

The fence zapped me. The current flowed here too.

I nursed my wounded electrified hand over a fine limone and coffee sherbet. Behind the ice cream kiosk was a pub and chalkboard menu. I looked it over.

What’s tshima?I asked.

Its the maize porridge,said the bartender.

Like pap?”


I’d taken the pap test back in Namibia. It was a staple across southern Africa, very filling, very adaptable and very boring, like most porridge, but this evening they served it up with goat stew and sweet potato leaves and it was fine.

There were shouts and cheers from the bar next door, a televised soccer game from the sound of it. A much different skirmish was playing out in the street two dogs were mixing it up with a baboon and given the latter’s nasty fangs, I was surprised that a pair of savvy town mutts wouldn’t show more sense.

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On the Zimbabwe side there are fewer baboons, but warthogs have the run of the place, nibbling the manicured hotel lawns.

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Last modified on Monday, 01 March 2021

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