Livingstone to Mongu and back

Sorry for the lack of blogging the past few days. We have been on the move non stop and have not seen a place with internet for some time. We left Livingstone on Saturday morning and headed for Lusaka. The road from Livingstone to Zimba was in worse condition than I had remembered. There were potholes that looked more like trenches that rip a tire in two. In the past few days, we have seen 3 overturned semi-trailers due to the poor condition of the road. The road from Zimba to Mazabukee was freshly paved to our relief. In Lusaka we ate dinner with Jerome at the Lusaka Country Club. We talked about solidifying our relationship and figuring out a game plan for the future. Dyson was unable to attend the dinner, but we were able to link up with him latter. The next day we headed out for Mongu. The road was generally good and the driving went well. The total trip from Livingstone from Mongu was approx. 13 hours. We woke up today and met up with Florence’s husband, Subway, who is with the Zambian Police Department here in Mongu. Florence’s brother is Earnest, the security guard at Standard Charter, who we had met earlier. Together we went to their house and met Florence. We all went to the Lozi Winter Palace where the Paramount Chief and his staff live during the winter months. We were not allowed in the palace but only in the crafts area and museum. Next we went to a place a few miles north to find Mesolo baskets but they didn’t have any gathered. We talked to them and told them we would be back later in the day to buy the baskets. We went back towards the palace to the bus stop and dropped Florence off there. Then we headed north towards the villages to look for Makangee baskets. The paved road had ended well before the palace and now we were trekking through deep sand in what was turning into an epic adventure. We had to engage the diff-lock on the Defender and plow straight into the deep sand. Things only got more interesting as we had to trek over irrigation cannels and small ponds that could bog down a truck in no time. After that we headed towards a forest that still retained the deep sand. As we fought through the woods the front left tire hit a branch and ripped apart. We had to change the tire on deep sand; thankfully we had the hi-lift jack to change the tire. After changing the tire we continued on without a spare tire or extra fuel. We finally made it to the first village a few miles latter and found out that they only had a few baskets. We continued on and went to a lake that was surrounded by villages. It was an amazing sight. There were young boys on canoes fishing in the lake and other people making baskets. Unfortunately they only had a few baskets made so we turned around and made the trek back to Mongu. Afterwards we picked the Mesolo baskets up and went back to the crafts center at the palace and picked a few things up. Next, we went to the craft center in town. The center was training local villagers to become artisans. The center had completed orders for a Italian company only a few weeks earlier. They will be somebody to look to next time for large orders of baskets. To clarify quickly, the Mesolo baskets are made with palm leaves while the Makangee baskets are made with roots from reeds that grow in the flood plains. Considering how few baskets we found in Mongu we headed back towards Livingstone a day early. At the end of the day we ended up with about 200 baskets of sorts. In the future we should be able to source baskets with a few months notice. The drive from Mongu to Lusaka took another 7 hours or so and it was a huge relief to get out of the truck in Lusaka. We called Lubasi, our Standard Charter Bank Rep, to go out to dinner with us but she was in the hospital. It sounded like she was on the tail end of begin sick which is good, because people die everyday here so it’s about time she gets better. We went and grabbed dinner with Jerome and Dyson at the most authentic Chinese place I have ever been. Not all that strange considering there are around a million Chinese in Zambia, however. Anyways, we talked more about solidifying things for the future and what the next steps should be. On Wednesday we left Lusaka for Livingstone. Before leaving we checked out the Kubu Craft in Manda Hill shopping center and met with Vincent Malambo, a former Justice Minister who acts as our lawyer. He handed us the incorporation documents for Standard Charter and then we left to set up the account. Until now our funds have been in the personal account of Lubasi, our banker, who then authorizes our withdrawals. We have been trying to set up a formal business account but government regulations stipulate that you must be a registered company in Zambia to open an account. The account should be open as of tomorrow and that clears up a huge priority for us. After that we ate lunch and left for Livingstone. It wouldn’t have been that bad of a drive except John didn’t take the one turn we had to make and we ended up at the Zimbabwe boarder. If you are not familiar with Southern Africa, Zimbabwe is no where near Lusaka. After a few hours we got back on the Great North Road and continued towards Livingstone. Unfortunately, it started to get dark as we got into Choma so we decided to spend the night there. We got into Livingstone early in the morning and will spend the day here before packing up again and heading back towards Lusaka. While in Livingstone we will pack the baskets from the Mongu trip and reorganize the container for shipment to South Africa. We will stay in Lusaka through the weekend and leave Tuesday. There is a chance that one of us will go up into the Copperbelt for a day or two on Sunday and meet back in Lusaka. Wednesday we will be back in Livingstone to finalize the container and bungee jump before heading into Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to check out the shona stone there. The bungee jump is over 110 meters high and until recently was the highest bungee jump in the world. I will be sure to post pictures of that when it happens. Then Thursday night I head to Joberg via South African Airways. We already picked up the tickets so there should not be any problems. After that I head for JFK, ATL, then Memphis. I should get home around midday Friday, but I have figured it out yet.

One Comment on "Livingstone to Mongu and back"

  1. Curtis says:

    Great Post.Don’t look into the future.Place an order for 1,000 Mankankee baskets.

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