Alicia’s Travel Diary

Friday, 03 Sep 2010

Location: Livingstone, Zambia

MapToday the only thing on our agenda was a village walk and school visit. A guide took us in a boat down the river a little ways to one of the small local villages where about 300 people lived. Almost every building was made from sticks and termite mound mud (which, when dried, dries as hard as rock) with a grass roof. There were a few buildings built with bricks and some had tin roofs. The children in the village were all very friendly and would walk by us and smile and pose for pictures. We were surprised to learn at one point that this was the village our guide lived in and he even pointed out his house and children to us. There were chickens and guinea fowl running around and most of the ground was littered with trash like plastics, wrappers, bottles, broken fruit husks and even broken glass. This village made the poorest parts of the U.S. look like the Taj Mahal. Everyone and everything had a layer of dirt and dust on it, which, with it being the dry season, is tough to avoid since it's everywhere. Despite how clearly poor this village was, everyone seemed happy and friendly. They had 3 bars in the village where they played music at night by using a generator and during the days using a solar panel. They had a field where the kids would play soccer, sometimes against kids from neighboring villages.

After the village walk we headed to the school where children from this and other villages in the area go starting at age 7. This school went up to grade 8, children who continued in school after that had to go into the city for grades 9-12. Classrooms were fairly basic desks and chairs, but had colorful paintings on the walls of the buildings and bright posters in each room which, depending on the grade, highlighted things such as animals, math concepts, days of the week in English as well as other English vocabulary words, artwork the children had made, and pictures of the students and progress charts. They had a music room and a small amphitheater for music performances and plays and traditional dancing. I was surprised to learn they even had a computer lab with 7 laptop computers connected to the internet. They had a library as well with over 7000 books ranging from children's book and novels, to encyclopedias and old text books or other informational books.

It was about mid-day when we got on the boat to head back to the lodge, it was blazing hot and we couldn't wait to get back to the lodge to at least get in some shade. For lunch they made us spaghetti and some super yummy cupcakes for my birthday. We relaxed for most of the afternoon and I read a lot. Another couple arrived at the lodge, of which we only met the wife because the husband was really jet lagged and apparently drinking beer in his lodge. This lady was the last person you would expect to be staying at a lodge in the bush. She didn't know hippos only ate grass, not people. She worked in car insurance in L.A. which should give you a good idea of what type of person this lady was. They were only spending 4 days in Africa and then going to the Netherlands. What we all wondered was why in the hell anyone would spending 24-35 hours traveling one way to spend only 4 days in Africa and not go on Safari or really plan any activities. It was good night, I had several glasses of wine for my birthday an some yummy dinner. We could hardly believe it was our last night in Africa.