Friday 20/0/17: After the ridiculously long train journey, I decide to stay at a backpackers in Lusaka for a night before continuing on to Livingstone tomorrow. I meet a couple of guys in the bar and one of them, Michael (24, American, in Africa for a two year stint in the Peace Corp in Botswana – I’ve yet to meet any boring travellers here!) mentions that he’s going to Livingstone the next morning. I decide to join him but then realise he’s going with the Mxxxxx family bus company. Hmmmm… I’d researched this company before I left Scotland. The reviews all looked great until the most recent one reported that the company’s license had been revoked due to “excessive” crashes and fatalities! Apparently they’re back on the road now and Michael convinces me that they’re the most luxurious (least horrendous) method to cover the seven hours to Livingstone… plus you get a free bottle of Pepsi when you book. I’m sold.
The coach itself is modern and comfortable. There’s no toilet but there is air conditioning. I wear my seatbelt, much to Michael’s amusement. I explain that I don’t mind that he doesn’t wear his as it means I won’t have to climb over his body to get to the emergency exit when we crash and he’s jettisoned half-way down the coach. He still doesn’t put it on. Young people today!
We start moving and an Evangelical preacher stands in the middle of the aisle and reads enthusiastically from the Gospel. He’s surprisingly entertaining but it’s concerning that he needs us to pray the driver stays awake and that no one else crashes into us. Perhaps this is part of the company’s risk management strategy.
He’s followed by the coach attendant asking that we fill out the passenger manifest with our names and details of our next of kin. I pull my seatbelt tighter. Christian music bellows from every speaker as we hit the highway. Surely enough, all the blessings work (helped perhaps by slower driving as the journey takes eight hours instead of the expected seven) and we arrive safely in Livingstone. I’ll be using the town as a base for a few days as the mighty Victoria Falls is only 10km away and there are lots of activities in the area. Maybe I should have taken the preacher with me to bless the bungee/microlight/gorge swing too!