welcome to Lochinvar
on Tom's Excellent Adventure (Zambia), 08/Jul/2009 06:53, 34 days ago
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So it’s true, I’ve bought a car. She’s a bit of a monster, Toyota Hilux surf 3litre turbo diesel but I’ve managed to convince myself that there’s a rational reason for doing this mainly based on Safety. In truth I just couldn’t bring myself to buy a rav4, I’m not ready for hairdresser school just yet.The change of ownership process is almost as much fun as getting your license. It starts with a letter of sale (After you have paid) given to you by the previous owner along with the white book (Which is neither white or a book). You take this to the police to check that it’s not a stolen vehicle; frankly a bit late given you’ve already paid for the dam thing!! The police tell you to go to ZRA (Zambian Revenue authority) Lawrence sucks his teeth and shakes his head at this, Lawrence is the agent helping me buy the car. He claims that the ZRA will want 3% of the value of the carin tax (k1.4m) but If, I were to give him K200,000 he could sort it out for me. I kinda know that this is bullshit but I really don’t want to take a risk with ZRA so I give him the cash and we move to phase 2. “Physical Check”... Whilst Lawrence is off doing his thing with the ZRA, his buddy Colins takes me to Ridgeway RTA for my cars physical. Fortunately he knows everyone there and I get bumped to the front of the queue, pushing in is so much more fun when it’s you doing the pushing. The inspection consisted of the bonnet being opened and the front driver side tyre being kicked, gently. Fortunately Lawrence and Colins offer to go to Lumumba RTA to hand the documents in and get the white book transferred to me, which will save me a couple of hours of queuing, two days later it’s all done. PS I’m still on my temporary license as after two months they’ve still not managedto print my permanent one.Now I have a car I need to use it and I know just the place, the bank holiday is almost upon us and a bunch of VSO’s are going to Lochinvar National park, so I become nominated driver. Lochinvar is geographically the nearest park to Lusaka but it is actually quite hard to get to because the roads are so bad and it has no big catswhich is what the people want but it does have a lot of birds, great. It’s 7am and I’m on the road to Monze to pick up Tash& Dhun (Two VSO’s) and a friend of theirs Michelle. I turn on the radio to hear a familiar voice. Anne, is an ex VSO who now works for Iconnect (Zambia’s leading ISP), she is also a Toastmaster and is doing a feature on Phoenix FM trying to drum up interest. She sounds bright and articulate, which she is, oddly she gives out her personal mobile number, which will come back to bite her. The road to Monze is fine and takes about 2.30hours but from here to Lochinvar is a nightmare. It’s 45k of which the first 25 are on a graded road which has pretty much been washed away leaving just flinty underlay, it feels like you’re gonna lose your fillings on this stretch. The last 20k is a dirt track that honestly doesn’t warrant the title track. All in all it takes 1.3hrs to do 45k; at least the car got a work out.We’re staying with “Griff” a friend of Tash who lives and works in the park. So that afternoon we go off to visit the plains and hot springs. Sadly these are too hot to take a dip (approx 90c) but do have an interesting array of poached insects floating on the surface. Griff’s house neatly sums up a lot of Zambia it’s in the middle of nowhere but has satellite TV but no running water. So we get to wash in buckets but can keep up with Paris Hilton’s search for her new best friend. On Saturday we go out into the park and soon the value of no big cats becomes clear. We spot a bunch of Zebra& Impala about 500 yrds away stop the cars and make our way towards them. It’s great gently sneaking up on them and clearly something you couldn’t do if there were Lions& Leopards in the park. They didn’t seem in the least unnerved by us and in fact seemed to rather enjoy our amateurish hunting technique. From here we went off rd, a good thing as the roads are much worse here than driving in the Bush, stopped in the middle of nowhere and off walking again. After 15 mins we arrived at a small lagoon hosting about 30 hippo, an incredible sight. A few facts about Hippos: the collective noun is a “raft” of Hippos, they’re very big and fat (A Hippos head alone weighs 250kg) and apparently they are the biggest man killer in Africa, so be careful. They spend all day lolling about in the water only coming on to land in the evening to eat. They are creatures of habit and follow the same path to their feeding ground, known as the “Hippo highway”. The highway is demarcated by the Hippo intermittently defecating against a tree and using its gentle wafting tale to spray said tree. If disturbed they head straight for the water down the highway and stop for nothing, so if you do disturb one don’t get between it and the Agua!!We stop for Lunch at an old bush camp by the Lagoon, which stretches +20k to the river Kafue. It’s a beautiful spot and a real shame thattourists no longer visit in enough numbers to keep such places running. It seems that whilst most of Africa is short of water Zambia is not, apparently it gets about a third of the total water in Africa, which makes it even more annoying that they have such a crap water supply. The camp is now used by the wardens to hang out whilst not chasing poachers. They tell us about a Python they found this morning and take us off to find it. It’s resting under a rotting canoe about 5 mins away and is well over 3 metres long, which they didn’t tell me when making me step over the canoe to get a better look. We oooh& ahhh at it for a while and then realise the wardens are cowering some 10m behind the Mzungo, what do they know that we don’t. It turns out that they believe the python can jump and that it’s got a sting in its tale, neither is true but the power of folklore is amazing.After this we go to Drum rock, so named because hitting certain parts of it produce the sound of a drum. Our guide also tells us a story about initiation ceremonies for young men that used to be held here. I won’t go into detail but it involves doing something young men do a lot of and reaching a certain distance in order to become a man. We then head off to the giant Baobab tree which is hollow inside and accommodated 6 of us. And Home