Saturday, May 15
After emailing photo and editorial content to British and Italian journalists Tore drops me at the Livingstone Stadium where Zambia (including players based in Holland, China and Egypt) are due to play the Southern provinces. Outside the stadium over excited rugby scrums of locals are trying in vain to squeeze inside. I wasn't expecting this, but then I didn't realise that the first President of Zambia (1964-91), Kenneth Kaunda, is the guest of honour, prompting many thousands to turn up here. It is hot, dusty and chaotic. Many give up trying to get inside and go home, while lines stretch around the walls of the stadium.
Two soldiers, guarding one of the entrances, let me through as I climb under a broken gate. Inside thousands are crammed behind two-metre high metal fences, many surging forward as the stadium MC announces that KK is about to greet the players on the pitch. This is a big deal for the locals. Kenneth Kaunda is still held in high esteem by many Zambians, who see him as responsible for helping to end colonial rule and putting the country on the right track to its new found independence. KK, now aged 86, jogs on to the pitch along with his huge personal entourage, which includes a gargantuan body guard who appears to be three metres tall.
When KK joins in a quick kick about the crowd goes wild, before the former-president leaves the pitch at a noticeably slower pace than he arrived, looking like he has rather overdone it in all the excitement.
I would love to stay and watch the whole match but it is uncomfortably hot, uncomfortably overcrowded and uncomfortably close to the kick off time of the English FA Cup Final.
Tim, Axel and I jump in a local minibus and head for town.
The Capitol Theatre, a colonial 1930s cinema, is showing Chelsea v Portsmouth on its big screen. Back of the net! For less than a pound we are each ushered to our seats where, instead of popcorn, a theatre employee walks around selling Castle Beer.
This really is a theatre of dreams and, for the locals, the closest thing to ever being at an English football match. Fittingly, therefore, those present are wearing Chelsea shirts and scarves and create their own crowd noises in addition to those communicated from Wembley with the horns and rattles they have brought to the cinema. It is a beautiful football moment as Chelsea hit the woodwork for the fifth time in the first half and I witness dozens of Zambian football fans jump up and down in this atmospheric old cinema.
Friday, May 14
Victoria Falls, Zambia
After Norwegian porridge, Internet and 'real' coffee we head out for Victoria Falls, regarded by many as one of the wonders of the world.
"Take your shorts and raincoat," I am told.
I take no notice, thinking the locals are being wet in every sense of the word.
Imagine the Scottish Hebrides in a November force 9 storm and you will get a sense of what it is like to walk the slippery, water-lashed path that allows you to pass just metres away from the full force of one of the world's greatest waterfalls.
Truthfully, it is a little scary if you have a fear of heights or of slippery-pathways-leading-to-a-vertical fall-and-almost-certain-death; particularly the walk over the narrow suspension bridge above part of the falls.
It is, though, an amazing, exhilarating experience and rates as a must if you are passing through this part of the world.
Sunset is an ice cold Castle by the banks of the Zambezi. The Zambezi Hotel is colonial throwback at its very best. A night of pure luxury here will set you back anything from 400-2000 dollars but non-residents can slip in and enjoy the daily 6pm near perfect sunset.
Amongst those present for another of those unforgettable African sunsets are the squad members of the Zambian National Football team. Their manager invites us over for a photo and wants to discover more about ‘The Shirt’ project. About to make plans for an impromptu kick about with the national team the following day he is suddenly whisked away to meet the country’s most famous man - the first president of an independent Zambia, . You can’t really compete with that.
Later on we join our new good-value Aussie mates, Axel and Tim, for a night out on the town with tales of snakes, scorpions and the world of ‘props‘. A brilliant laugh is had by all, but I guess you had to be there…
Thursday, May 13
Lusaka - Livingstone, Zambia
We leave the millionaire expat lifestyle behind and return to the two-poor geezers-with-bikes-harassed-by-bus-station-spivs game.
It is a "five hour journey south to Livingstone," we are told - and your heart sinks, because in A.T. five probably means ten.
Luckily for us, we are the last to board the 'Namibia Bus', stopping at Livingstone.
"You wouldn't happen to be a Norwegain bloke cycling to the world cup, would you?" a young Muzungu asks Bjorn. Tim has got a copy of the Zambian Daily Post in his hands with said story about said Norwegian. Somebody else reading the Zambian Times also gives a knowing nod: today's fresh off the press article mentions a Norwegian cyclist, (Mr. Bjorn Heidenstrom), and his new travel companion 'Justine'. Makes it sound like Bjorn's picked up a random transvestite en route.
The road south to Livingstone is unspectacular, by the standards so far experienced, and certainly the most industrial to date. Fuel is 8500 per litre, or 1.20 pounds - about the same as the UK.
5 hours...6, 8, 10, 11 hours later we pull into Livingstone, the bus violently rattling over a stretch of road that wouldn't be out of place in delapidated Burma.
We are met off the bus by Tore, a locally-based Norwegian, who kindly contacted us by phone 24 hours earlier and offered to put us up for a day or two. We don't know his name so he's been stored in ou phone as 'Dr. Livingstone I presume".
Tore works for Norwegian Christian Aid.
Sadly though, the two hitchbikers sit in the back of his Toyota as he pulls into his private house whispering "Shit, if he's a full-on Christian he probably won't want beer in his house,"
"Yeah, I'm dying for a beer...alternatively though he could be an axe murderer so it's not the worst result,"
Tore leads us into his home from home and tells us, "Help yourselves to some beers from the fridge."
There follows an excellent Norwegain supper, countless beers and several hours of good chat.