A Travellerspoint blog

Day 89 – Ferry ‘cross the Kariba

20th December 2011


We were up and at ‘em early doors. Our ferry was leaving at nine and we had to be ready, wildlife permits and tickets in hand, and in line by eight. All this preparation and rising at sparrows to get things ready and we found out that the boat was late. It had a fuel leak and only one engine was working. I think that’s the industry standard for these parts. We queued for an few hour getting pestered by one beggar in particular who insisted that if he had five dollars, he’d give it to Laura. But, since he didn’t, would we mind giving him a dollar. He got a Pine-Nut soft drink. (Coconut and Pineapple juice made fizzy – weird.) `

As well as a minor problem like a fuel leak, the ferry folk had overbooked. A small pang of fear streaked through our spines as we wondered if we were the troublesome ‘extra car.’ Like all good Southern Africans however, they quickly ‘made a plan’ and reckoned if one car lost its roof rack things would be good. We told him the Ferry Man it wouldn’t be us. The landy in front told Ferry Man that he was welcome to try but the ferry folk would be doing it themselves and would pay for any damage that resulted. Some mug in a Toyota took one for the team. I’m sure he winced bitterly as they lowered the rack dragging a large scratch down the side of his car. I reversed on just before twelve pm. I had three inches between the right hand side and the boat and eight inches between my left hand side and the very last car on. Still, last on, first off and all that.

We boarded the good ship Sea Lion and set off on a twenty two hour cruise with one engine, a fuel leak and a prayer. Boarding we could see that our life rafts actually resembled large foam sponges with bits of rope hanging off the edge. Downstairs, the boat was rammed, mostly because of a morbidly obese coloured lady and her plump offspring that were consuming most of the viable oxygen. I worried that if our diesel situation became critical, she’d eat all the food before we got to land. I made a mental note that we’d have to send her off on the ‘life sponge’ first. With nowhere else to go Somers explored and found a beauty of a spot on the top deck at the back of the boat. It was covered with canvas but had open air sides. It was perfect. We occupied the two remaining old-peoples-home wire sun loungers and introduced ourselves to the slender Zimbabwean family of six, a Jo’burg couple, and a couple from Waterfall (ten minutes from the McVeigh’s house in Hillcrest,) named Kenny and Tracey. Our chairs were beauties, they could be sitting chairs, recliners or beds. They had leg extensions that didn’t quite fit but did the job and cushions that came straight out of an Indian furniture store in the seventies. We ate on blue plastic, rectangular all-in-one food trays; the type of which I’ve only seen previously in prison movies. The trays may have been lacking but the food wasn’t. We were fed five times a day.

The first evening we queued, politely chatting to some fellow overlanders, when suddenly my vision went from glorious Technicolor to grey. I looked to my left and then to my right; only grey. I turned my body left to see a large crease in which the grey darkened; wet t-shirt. As I turned right I could make out the second moisture ridden cleft of an armpit as it dawned on me that the big chick had pushed in-front of us. Thankfully there was no smell but we watched, mouths ajar as she nailed all, every last piece, of the chicken, it was piled high on her plate as she drooled languidly all over it. With her eyes wide, her slavering features were all consumed by the thought of the chicken. We said nothing and waited for another ten minutes whilst the astonished chef and his team prepared more chicken. Who needed life rafts; at eighty percent blubber I’d just hold on to her.

Our journey was from west to east along the length of Lake Kariba which is at least a few hundred kilometres. Our top deck provided the perfect spot to see one of the most incredible sunsets so far as the sun dipped into the inky blue waters of Kariba. As the sun went the stars came. In the distance an electrical storm broke out, huge forks of lightning crashed silently to the ground as huge clouds glowed like flash bulbs on the banks. Above us the sky was cloudless and with no light pollution the stars were a joy. As we fell asleep the engines slowed and the smell of leaking diesel faded. The stars appeared to glide alongside our apparently motionless boat in a conveyor belt of magnificent beauty. Downstairs people began to cough as the chicken scented fug built and the snoring began.

Posted by ibeamish 02:44 Archived in Zimbabwe

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Ha ha, small world! I know Kenny & Tracey, she is my friend on FB!!!!!

by Maria

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