Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Livingstone, Zambia - Day Three

(posted by Andy)

Today was an early morning awaking because we were picked up for our bush walk. Unlike being in the car in the bush, today we walked... we were escorted by two trackers and a gun man and spent three hours in the wild. Walking felt different than being in a jeep, we were more vulnerable walking around hoping not to get atttacked by some wild beast! Here there are no wild cats like the lion, cheetah, or leopard, but there are plenty of elephants that could kick our asses and basically kill us if we don't watch out for them and be on guard.

Today we were on the search for the white rhino here that we have already mentioned is the last of them due to poaching (killing for its horn). We followed his tracks for about an hour and then behold, this giant magnificent animal just feet away from us hiding in the bush! These guys are good when it comes to finding these animals in a very large area of land. You would think that a rhino would be easy to find as he is so huge but he blends into the trees and shadows so he can be hard to spot. We followed the tracks of his feet in the dry muddy dirt. This creature is guarded and protect 24 hours a day by a man with a rifle because he is the last white rhino in the entire country of Zambia and his horn is worth over $10,000 U.S. dollars which for people around here is like our MILLION...anyways he is and must be protected!

Rhett and I were very alert, o.k frightened, when we intially saw him because he was literally 20 feet away and stood about 13 feet tall and weighed a couple of tons....a big, big animal with a very large two horns...we have photos, will show you when we can.

Along our walk we also encountered more giraffes, zebras, hippos, monkeys, impalas and other sorts of birds. All of the creatures except the hippos were very near and very intense to see on foot.

The weather here is hot as shit (92 today?!) and very dry....we tried to lay out a bit after the bush walk but could hardly make it past 1.5 hours at the pool at our camp. The pool you would have thought to be refreshing in such weather conditions but it is as cold as Antarctica!

We learned some things from our trackers that I wanted to share. Only about 20 percent of the people here have jobs, the rest just beg and try to sell their goods on the street...very bad and very poor. Even those who have an college education find it difficult to find work and it takes sometimes as long as 5 years to find a job. That sucks! Think again how lucky we all are and even those of us who are looking currently for a job, 5 years is a very long time not to work.....stealing and prostitution is sometimes the only way.

Tomorrow we are to awake again at 6:30 a.m. to go on our final safari in another bordering country named Botswana. That would make it our 4th country visited on this trip. This experience will be much different that the other safaris beacase it will also consist of a boat trip where we will float along hippos and crocs along the way down the river prior to our jeep safari. The road trip to this country is about one hour and wish us luck getting across the border...the woman who sold us the trip said this will also be an experience getting there....hopefully not the same as our horrific experience as into Mozambique!

We nearly have run out of money here because trying to pull cash from our Master Card ATM has been an experience all of it's own. In all of the countries that Rhett and I have visited along the years, this was the hardest to withdraw, we litteraly have about $50.00 to our name and almost had to call home to do a wire transfer.

After going to almost every bank in this dusty town, our faithful cab driver Phiri took us to one final place before giving up....and as we walked in the teller was closing up and we thought we were doomed. After some pleading and showing our puppy eyes......he agreed to help us out. Good job Phiri and thanks for saving our asses! Man, talk about some luck! We now have enought to get us through the next few days.

We need money because we are always changing countries so we need currency of that country. However it is generally good *only* in that country, so we can only withdraw a certain amount needed for our stay in that particular country. It gets complicated. Anyways, we are funded and ready to continue onward and into Botswana!

Our next email may take a few days because we will be on safari all day tomorrow and then off to South Africa for our final few days prior to returing home