Sunday, 21 August 2011

Please take me back.....!

What a culture shock, to return from the banks of the Zambezi back to London - it really highlights the differences between our two countries.
But what an amazing trip - to start in Lusaka, drive all the way up to Angola and then paddle just under 1000km down the great Zambezi river to finish just above Victoria Falls.
There were obviously some bits that were not so amazing - not being able to wash for up to five days, or having to get up at 5.30am, pack up sleeping bag, tent and all kit for a 6.30am  breakfast, still in the dark and very much in the cold.  But the upside was sculling down the middle of a beautiful river, surrounded by wildlife (crocs, hippos, stunning birdlife), knowing that I was seeing something that not many people would ever get the chance to see, including most of the people who live in Zambia.
And meeting those people was such a pleasure - they are the happiest, calmest people I think I have ever met.  I was told by a friend who lives there that the Zambians never shout - it wasn't until I returned to London that I realised I had not heard a raised voice for over 3 weeks!
Needless to say I have returned a little lighter than before - we had great food cooked by our support team, but it was hard to fit in time to eat enough to sustain the exercise we were doing.  A few of the team came down with stomach issues - we were having to drink the Zambezi as well as row on it, as there is no other water in a lot of places.  We used sterilising tabs and also filter bottles, but for some this was not enough.  I had recommended Bio-Kult probiotics for everyone before we left, so some of us were better at dealing with the strange bacteria.  A couple of us also took Higher Nature Oregano oil capsules which are anti-bacterial, and I think this helped too.
Being vegetarian wasn't really a problem, as meat was not so easy to store anyway, so lots of great veggie dishes were cooked - gem squash stuffed with cheese and sweetcorn, green beans cooked in Coconoil and spices.  We were even treated to freshly made bread and, on special occasions, chocolate cake or apple crumble - I was amazed and delight at the inventiveness of Jana our great support girl.
One of the greatest treats was fresh fish, caught by one of our guides - I have never seen anybody catch fish so easily as this guy - he just seemed to know exactly where the fish were, and he reeled them in, one after the other.  Local bream was certainly very tasty, but the most impressive to look at was tiger fish, although eating them was tricky as they have lots of bones, and when eating by torchlight this becomes even more of a problem!
Typically conversation around the campfire always turned to what we would eat if we could, with everyone recalling their favourite meal, or dreaming about what their first meal would be on returning home.  It was like torture!
And now I am home, what I would really like is to be sitting around a campfire listening to all those great dishes all over again.


Tim C said...

Welcome back! I understand how you are feeling. I have traveled twice from the source of the Zambezi to it's mouth in a small inflatable boat and sitting on the bank having a fire-cooked meal after a hot tiring day watching the sun sink below that African horizon is so special that it draws you back and back again. We have always been struck by just how amazing the people are in the "deep" country - great values and such humour and generosity from them (who have so little) to us (who have so much "stuff"). If you'd like some of my "riverside" recipes just let me know. Best wishes (from Cape Town). Tim Cumming

Skips said...

Hi Tim,

Despite being back in the UK, my head is still very much back in Zambia, trying to re-live all the lovely memories I have from there.
You are right about the people, I have never met such kind, soft and happy people, who have absolutely nothing - it makes me very disgruntled with all the moaning people I have to deal with here in London!
Kind regards, Joy