The sun is going down behind us and the trees are dropping thick seed pods like curls of bark which land with a clatter on our terrace. A young woman is sweeping them up and I asked her what kind of trees they are. “I don’t know” she said, laughing. Nor do we. Unseen in the distance is some sort of outdoor religious revival with much close harmony a capella singing. It is unmistakably African.
Lusaka’s airport doesn’t have the feeling of the main hub for a capital city. It’s very quiet and low key with a couple of baggage carousels and the car park right outside. Most on our flight we’re going on to Zimbabwe and only a few dozen of us made our way through immigration which was polite and formal and easy enough.
A driver from Pioneer Camp met us with a soft handshake and a battered Landcruiser. “Sorry, no air conditioning” he said with an apologetic smile. We didn’t need it. The sun was out but at 26 degrees it was cooler than London has been for most of the summer…blissfully so.
It was a 25 minute drive through scrubby landscape on the edge of the city. We passed women wrapped in brilliant colours; some with things stacked on their heads, others with a baby on a hip and some with both. Men in blue boiler suits waited for a lift after a day working at the roadside. There were a few police checkpoints, casual affairs with oil drums to slow us down, but we were waved through and we waved back.
The last few K to Pioneer Camp were on dirt roads and jolting over the ruts I considered the fact that this will be how we spend the next two and a half weeks…
Our 4×4 was already at Pioneer Camp when we pulled in but no sign yet of the man delivering it. Maybe we will see him at supper.
Birds are twittering as the dusk takes hold and it’s probably time to head in. The religious revival sounds like it is dispersing after a final chorus. P and I may walk to the end of the garden while Tom finishes his book and tomorrow we head into the wilds.