Saturday, June 14, 2008

African Adventure: Vic Falls Pt2: Day trip to Zambia and a township visit (Feb 26-Mar 1)

Current Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Highlights: A day trip into Zambia, visiting a township to see where the crafts are made, and going to the falls.
Upcoming: Ancient San cave paintings in Matobo Park and onward to the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.
Current GPS Coordinates: LAT: S 17 58 47 LONG: E 25 49 35

I am really developing a passion for African art and crafts, especially after several visits to craft markets at Vic Falls
and in Zambia. I found that it was a really nice way to interact with the local people and on one such an interaction I made a friend. George is a 22 year old who owns a small "shop" (=place on
the floor in the covered market) and makes some of his own woodcrafts specializing in chess sets made of ebony and teak wood. After chatting with him, we arranged to go into the township to visit his workshop where the chess sets are made. I was really excited about this as it had meant that I crossed the line from a "tourist" who visits and observes form afar to someone who interacts with the people and sees into how they live. Unfortunately I forgot the digital camera so I can't show you any pictures, sorry, but you will have to take for it that it was an incredible experience. Less than 100 meters beyond the tall grass and trees that line the main road into Vic Falls lies a huge bustling and dense community of 1000s of people. The roads are tiny and winding, the houses vary from black plastic covered sticks to brick structures with wooded doors and it was behind a small brick house that George and three
other men hand carve their chess sets. They showed me the different stages from the raw piece of ebony wood, to the cutting of a "roll" (round stick), to the shaping of the pieces. Just about everything is done by hand using only very basic tools. They can make about 3
a month and the end result is brilliant.

I spent several days at the craft market and by the time I left, most of the traders knew my name and I knew theirs. I was particularly enamoured with the soapstone sculptures and carvings for which Zimbabwe is renowned. These come in shapes and sizes from life-sized figures to pocket sized abstract designs. I soon found that I could trade items I had for the crafts. For example, I traded a pair of old running shoes for some small soapstone's, Aaron traded
his Nike shoes for a huge pair of wooded masks. He ended up walking home barefoot! I also traded a new pair of khaki trousers for a mask, but fear not I didn't walk home in my undies!

Because of all the rain here, the falls were in full force with a high volume of water shooting into the Zambezi gorge over the 1 km long falls. As a result so much spray surrounded the falls that you couldn't actually see them from the bridge across the Zambezi that connects Zimbabwe with Zambia. So we decided to go onto the Zambian side of the falls where the spray is less for some reason. It cost us US$10 each for a day VISA into Zambia then an additional
US$3 (or Z$50 which = US$1.30) to enter the park to see the falls. We also visited the town of Livingstone where we spent K17 000 on a nice lunch, that's right K17 000. The Zambian Kwacha is an almost worthless currency. The US equivalent for our lunch for 2 was US$6. I really liked Livingstone and bought some ebony carvings that I am
shipping back home form Zambia. I hope they arrive as I paid far too much for them, but they are really very nice pieces.

We visited the falls on our way back into Zim. You can walk out onto a cliff area that stands in front of the falls. This was both fun and incredibly wet from the spray. Its just like standing under a shower. Vic Falls really are spectacular, its just a shame we only got to see them in overcast drizzly and damp weather. Yet another reason to return!

Before we left I had to do a quick on the fluids in the Landy. As usual I had to add gearbox oil. This time used the elbow fitting I fitted into the filler hole. Surprisingly, I didn't have to drain any oil from the transfer case. Because oil had been draining back into the trans case from the gearbox, I installed a tap into the filler plug so I could drain off excess oil into a container and pour it back into the gearbox. I also found out where the oil goes I have to add to the from swivel housings. It drains into the front diff. I don't have to add much oil, but I wondered where it goes.

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