Eighties Overland: Part 5


Words & Images Peter Middleton

The border at Chirundu was surprisingly painless. Arriving just after midday, we were through in an hour. The Zim side, air-conditioned and tidy,
was also a surprise. The Zambia side was not; it was dirty and disorganised – but that suited us. We paid the four Kwacha road tax, got ripped off for another unfathomable charge (to lubricate the stamps, we supposed) and headed to Lusaka.

The countryside was obviously less managed: the roads more potholes than road. Herds of trucks belched clouds of exhaust into our open vents.

We entered Lusaka, where aggressive chancers chased us from one broken traffic light to the next, banging on windows, surrounding us. Colonial
buildings as well as obviously once beautiful homes were nothing but broken shells. There were no road names, but we did ultimately find the only Lusaka campsite.

It troubled us that there were whities here, living in dilapidated caravans in this shoddy campsite without hot water or grass. We were immediately
warned to lock up everything: “Turn your back, and, like vervet monkeys, ‘they’ will take anything not tied down.” It was tense. Being fresh meat, we kept alternative two-hour watch. All night. We had to go to town for black-market currency. Everywhere we moved, we were chased and jostled, until I found an Indian shop where I negotiated a rate that gave us the cheapest fuel so far.

It then took four stations to fill up as we bullied the bullbar into each angry queue. Eventually, jammed in, I carried fed, cleanly dressed and in good humour. They smiled broadly as they waved, the laughing children wearing incongruous English-style school uniforms.

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