A trip to Kabompo
For whatever reason, it was decided that I should go to Kabompo with our buyer Chiko. The part that makes sense is we want to buy more honey, so we're hoping to find it there. The part that doesn't make perfect sense, is why am I going...
Either way, I found myself catching a lift in a nice NGO sponsored SUV, sipping on Coca-cola and chewing on some biscuits while watching 250 km of landscape unfold bofore me.
Chiko was suppose to follow me on the motorbike, but he was held up so I had the day to myself. What a weird feeling, I didn't have my laptop, I actually didn't even have my bag since it was dropped off at his sisters place and I couldn't get a hold of her. So it was just me and my phone and a little bit of cash...oh ya, and an amazing little town in the middle of nowhere africa.
The Kabompo River
This River is apparently the second deepest in Africa, when engineers came to put a bridge, they weren't able to put any columns, so it had to suspend all the way from one bank to the other.
Chiko arrived on Monday and I got to meet his friend, 'sister' Jean. She is the sweetest person and was sure to take care of us much the way my mother would appreciate it, reminding both of us to brush our teeth, don't drive too fast, make sure you have enough water....and on and on.
The best part about small town Africa is that you get to walk around at night and not worry about it. For most of my time so far, I've been stuck in Lusaka where its not advisable to walk around after 8pm. On our walk that night we were treated to a very stary night that was highlighted with a crescent moon sitting exactly between jupiter and venus.
My skills on the motorbike are just so-so. I can go about 80 km/hr on a perfectly paved road. On the side road, maybe 50 km/hr, and on sand - lets just say its something I'm working on.
Tuesday we set off and I quickly discovered the sensation of flying on a motorbike. The logic is perfect, when I explained to Chiko that I dont like going over 50 - he says "you dont feel the bumps if you go fast" - and he was totally right. Next test, sand. Deep sand on a narrow pathway. He let me try for about 10 minutes, but I was way too slow. We switched, and before I knew it, we were going 80 km/hr on this tiny little path and we were litterally floating on sand. The back tire would swing left and right and Chiko negotiated the path the way he's been doing for 6 years.
The feeling was totally liberating. It felt like a thrill ride that lasted for 30 km. My life actually felt completely out of my control, and once I accepted that, it was a nice feeling. The air became fresher, the sky looked bluer and the trees looked taller.
Needless to say, I found out why everyone says a little prayer and does the sign-of-the-cross before getting on the bike with Chiko.
The next day, the beekeepers we were going to visit were located on the other side of the river, and we had to drive about 80 km just to cross the river using the bridge. Then we went about 30 km into the bush. On the way back, Chiko told me there was a boat that could save us this 80 km stretch. He said last time they tried it, they fell in before even pushing off...so he vowed to never do it again. However, we were told by one other guy that he took his motorbike over successfully, so there we were trying.
Now this river looks innocent enough, and these guys take people across all the time, but let me tell you...there are hippoes and crocodiles in this river, and if the bike drops in there is about a 0% chance we'd ever get it back. Whatever the logic is here, we decided to go for it.
And 2 minutes later, for just $1, there we were on the other side, dry, safe, and still with 80km worth of fuel in the tank.
I'm now back in Mwinilunga, after riding through a lightening storm at crazy speeds on the back of Chiko's motorbike for 3 hours, the blood in my veins is still jostling around as if I were still on the bike. It reminds me of the way I felt after water skiing in BC. Not sure if mom would approve of all this, but thats the way things work around here. We would travel a distance of150 km or more, just to speak to a beekeeper for 20 minutes. Imagine if we could just call them instead!
Time to get back to office work again. The cash is heading out into the field, and the honey is coming in.
Chiko gives a thumbs up before setting off into the bush.