Rivers have historically been natural boundaries. Near the confluence with the Chobe River
Back to Reality: Con Games and Coca-Cola
I stared back into the immigration officer's eyes in an attempt to assess the gravity of my predicament. I ran the numbers in my head and responded, "That is almost $600 U.S. That seems very high, and I have already paid $130 U.S. for a three-year visa. I don't understand." He coldly responded, "Yes, this is a three-year visa," pointing again to my passport," but you were only given five days for this visit. You may pay the fine in Kwacha or U.S. dollars."
I didn't have 1.8 million Kwacha, and informed my captor I'd need to call the American consulate. Anthony came on the line, and I explained the situation. The bottom line was, "I can only officially help you if you have been arrested. The process could take weeks. They might still fine and deport you." Anthony explained, "If you pay, get an official receipt. But try to talk your way out of it first." I returned to my new friends and explained, "My consulate said this must have been an honest mistake, that Zambians are usually very understanding with their country's guests. Is it possible for you to give me an extension here?" His eyebrow dipped in disapproval. I continued. "If you are not allowed to do this, I can take one of you to Lusaka with me (200 kilometers away); I'll get money to pay the court, and then bring you back."
I then sat down in the dirt at the base of an acacia tree; the ball was in their court. An hour passed. Then another hour, but with a bit of small talk. One of them walked to a market, returned with three bottles of Coca-Cola, and handed one to me. We talked. I waited. I was behind schedule and anxious, but I wasn't going to pay these guys extortion money. Another 30 minutes passed. Then, the lead guy pulled out his binder, scribbled something down on my passport, handed it back to me, and said in a heavily accented voice, "I have given you a five-day extension, you are free to go. We hope you enjoy your stay in Zambia." I let out a huge internal sigh of relief, politely thanked each of them, got in the H3, and got the heck out of there.
The lack of reliable sources of clean water has plagued bush communities for millennia. In
Shadows in the Night, the Blood Highway, and Men With Guns
After my run-in with immigration, I was behind schedule and broke one of my cardinal rules of travel: "Don't travel at night." I was warned by a man in Lusaka that continuing on was a bad idea and that I should get a room for the night. "There are many deaths on that road each night, it is very dangerous. If you go, don't stop for anything. Villagers walk drunk in the road and get hit. If there is a body lying on the ground, don't stop." He continued, "Don't touch anyone that is bleeding, they all have AIDS." I was running a day behind and decided to push on (that damn schedule thing again).
His advice was spot-on. Within 50 miles I'd passed several wrecks, one of which, as my informant predicted, had a bloodied blanket draped over what I guessed was a wayward pedestrian. After a way-too-close call with an oncoming semi, which scared the living crap out of me, I pulled over to check my maps (and my shorts) for an alternative route. The only one that went to South Luangwa was on my T4A GPS map and appeared to be a goat track. But T4A had been accurate to this point, and I'd take any alternative to getting killed on the blood highway.
It was a moonless night and the track was as I expected-a windy, bumpy, 80-kilometer goat track through the bush. My IPF auxiliary lights cut through the bush, occasionally illuminating a villager peering out from the shadows. A black-backed jackal darted across the path, and a few minutes later a man on a bicycle with a goat tied to the handlebars dodged off the track as I slowly passed. The occasional campfire burned in the distance, each with a few villagers huddled around it.