Tooting My Vuvuzela

What else is a proud mama to do?  Our oldest son, Jordan, is now a month into his southern Africa summer adventure.  He finished his freshman year at the University of California at Berkeley in mid-May and a few days later, departed LAX for Johannesburg, SA.  Jordan has spent the past four weeks traveling in Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Swaziland.  Now, he is probably on a bus heading back to Jo’burg.  We’ll meet him there next Tuesday, for a family vacation and plenty of World Cup action.  For the past few months, Jordan has worked as a reporter for the Daily Californian, Berkeley’s newspaper.  Here you’ll find a list of his articles.  While on the road this summer, he’s posting to the newspaper’s travel blog.  Here’s his first installment.

Trials of Travel

By Jordan Bach-Lombardo June 16, 2010 | 9:29 pm
Posted in: Africa

When I return in the fall, people will want to hear about the awe-inducing power of Victoria Falls and see pictures of the crags and plains of Mount Mulanje and of elephants crossing the Zambezi River.  But what probably won’t be related is the work it took to reach these amazing and often remote locations.  Such stories tend to describe discomfort and decaying patience and are usually only brought up as horror stories.  But to write a true travel blog, and not just one for destinations, the ardor of travel must be acknowledged side-by-side with its joy, for without one there is not the sense of accomplishment that accompanies the other.

Almost four full weeks of my trip around southern Africa have elapsed (So far I have gone through Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique and am heading towards Swaziland and South Africa in the next few days.), and the ultimate combination of toil and triumph to this point has undeniably been the excursion to South Luangwe National Park.  The park’s situation between the Muchinga Escarpment and Luangwe River in Eastern Zambia places it 715km from Lusaka by road (A “torturous” trip, as our indispensable friends at Lonely Planet say) and $220 away by plane, a price which even for the shoestring college student dangled sorely tempting in front of my as my patience and backside still hadn’t entirely recuperated by the beginning of the return leg.

The trek began early on a Thursday morning when we broke down the tent before dawn to arrive at the bus depot by six for our seven o’clock departure (this per the advice of the bus company employee from whom we bought the tickets the night before).  When we arrive at the station, we found the bus already idling and the seats a third full, an excellent omen which portended a possible timely departure.  What was left of these hopes completely sublimated around 9:30 when most of the “passangers” got up and left.  (They had been paid to fill the seats and make the coach appear more full to attract passengers.)  At 10:15, as the third bus to Chipata left since we had been sitting on the stationary coach, any hope of reaching the park disappeared and we resigned ourselves to losing a day.  Several games of chess and a few arguments with the bus owner later, we finally pulled out of the bus station, six and a half hours after what we thought was the departure time.

To be continued…  Click here.

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