September 30, 2013

Days 26-27 (we went forward)

There's a bridge over the Zambezi River, spanning the gorge between Zambia and Zimbabwe, that belongs to no one.  

In order to cross it, you must leave through Zimbabwe emigration, entering a span of no-man's land until you enter Zambia on the other side.  And you must go on foot.  The taxi that took us from our Zimbabwe campgrounds wasn't allowed to cross the bridge due to work permits; the same for cabs on the other end.  

STOP.  You are entering Zambia.

Traversing no-man's land with our packs and pillows

On this bridge, dampened by the mist from Victoria Falls, you are on your own.  
Which, after three weeks of living on a bus with 15 other people, was just right.  

Leaving Vic Falls was supposed to be the start of the second half of our overlanding trip- a point from which many of our cohort left the tour and others joined fresh.  But for the handful of us that were spanning both halves, it was time to break away.  The 2nd half of the organized tour was supposed to begin by returning to Chobe, Botswana for another night (for those who didn't get to go in the 1st half) before proceeding on to Zambia.  And while Chobe was indeed amazing, traveling backwards felt all too much like... well... traveling backwards.  So instead, we went forward, walking, into Livingstone Zambia for a day of respite before being re-joined by the rest.  

View of Vic Falls mist from Livingstone campsite

Walking away, literally, from the half-way blues low point of Vic Falls, Livingstone was a high point.  A feeling of freedom.  Day 1 spent idling between the pool with beers and the deck overlooking the Zambezi River.  And cooking dinner for ourselves while listening to Johnny Cash.  

The sun sets over the Zambezi

On the second night, our campsite was overrun by a charitable social rally (apparently that's a thing) called Putfoot.  It's an organization where young people (mostly South African 20-something guys) travel around the continent, occasionally putting shoes on the feet of poor African kids.  And that's all I'm really qualified to say on the matter (if even that), so the rest of judgement will be withheld.  

But they rolled into town with enthusiasm, a DJ, and a photobooth, all of which were appreciated.   

Nights when the living room was on the lawn

Feeling the freedom of (semi-)autonomous travel, I danced all night with a sorrowful Canadian manager of a phone-sex call center, who had a life back home with "[his] girl" that didn't turn into the fairy tale it should have been.  Which points to the undeniable truth that we've reached an age where the people we know and meet have been influentially shaped by the people they've loved.  Exes are no longer mere high-school sweethearts, but ghostly imprints we carry around in the atriums of our hearts. 

But the joy and untethered feelings of these days flashes back to me with any of the following songs:

- Johnny Cash "Hurt"
- Daft Punk/Pharrell Williams "Get Lucky"
- Coldplay "Paradise"
- Violent Femmes "Blister in the Sun"

All of which I've been repeating on a looping iTunes playlist since then.  Because, really, a substantial part of travel is the traveling back we do in our minds.  The flashbacks and revisits.  Recalling the days when we were who and where we wanted to be.  

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