Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Hippo Slalom Canoe trip and our marriage

Over 10 years ago I did a 4 day, 3 nights canoe trip down Zambesi river that I still remember as awesome. Last month an old friend from Sweden, Peter, and his son Victor arrived and I had again booked for this experience.

They arrived Sunday 17 April and did not really have much time to settle in as next morning we were off to Makuti turnoff up in Kariba to meet up with Natureways.

I can not say that it started too well... for some reason I could not start the 4*4 so instead chose our trusty Corolla, picked up the guys and off we went. Some time later start noticing that the engine temperature is climbing... oh no! Stopped and added water to cooling system (it NEVER needs this and I had checked it 2 days earlier). That only helps a short while.

What to do? Called Mia and asked her to work on the 4*4, call Natureways and alert them we will be late and return home to change cars. Have no idea why Isuzu did not start in morning but now works fine. Leave Mia with all problems and off we go again!

That was however our last glitch, once we were on our way again all went well. Arrived in Makuti only to find we are the only going for this canoe trip, happy that noone had to wait for us. Off to Chirundu bridge (border Zimbabwe/Zambia), quick lunch, pack canoes and off we paddle.

As we were late we had to catch up some lost "distance" and due to this actually pitched our tents using torches this first day. The last hour or so felt a bit like going slalom between hippos who to varying degrees let us know they were not amused. They are quite territorial and pose by far the biggest risk and challenge on these trips.

After dinner we admired the starry sky, shared stories and relaxed. That is when the distinct sound of blaring music comes travelling from the Zambia side of the river.. what the?? Turns out that on their side there is a large banana plantation and what we heard was the bar serving the workers. "But it is Monday", I argued. To which the guide replied that in Zambia bars never close, they just change staff now and then. Oh oh... around 1 am they finally stopped and I could sleep peacefully.

Then followed some peaceful days with good weather, gameviewing, some very close encounters with hippos, elephants, waterbuck and so on. We arrived at Nyamepi Camp in Mana Pools on the morning of the 4th day, had a well deserved shower (you do not swim/bath in Zambesi due to crocodiles and hippos) and a relaxed breakfast. Then the nearly 80 km "tse-tse fly drive" out of the park. There are few insects more irritating and stubborn than tse-tse and they give you wonderfully itchy bites!

Apart from ending up behind a brick-carrying truck doing around 20 km/h the last kilometres on our return to Harare the return was otherwise uneventful.
Here some photos, more will come: http://tinyurl.com/42v3fle

Next day was Good Friday and I took the guys and our sons to Ngoma Kurira where I managed to twist a knee so bad I got stuck on the sofa at home.. and how much fun is that on a Friday when you have visiting friends? Hellen and sisters had to show Peter and Victor nightlife Harare.

The rest of Easter Saturday and Sunday I spent mostly preparing the last details for our marriage. After 8 years "living in sin" we decided it felt like a good thing to do the deed and get married. This took place on Easter Monday 25 April in our garden at home and I have put up some photos on the link below. Again, more might come.

After that it has been HIFA (www.hifa.co.zw) and we saw some good performances and had fun though this year did not really feel like any artist/show was a "must see". Our friends left on 1 May and are already planning the next visit!

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