Still dehydrated since we left Namibia. My trip with Gadventures has officially ended. Peter and the rest of the group already left town and headed further to Malawi. It was my last day so everything was packed. The staff at the reception was kind enough to watch over my backpack. I wasn’t ready to leave Zambia yet. Before leaving Waterfront, I spent half the day cycling with a local. I felt like I needed to see a different side of Livingstone and the bicycle tour was an ideal choice. Of all the overpriced activities, it’s easy for most visitors to forget the true essence of Zambia. This country is so much more than Victoria Falls and safaris. The tour, which is run by Cowboy is cheaper than any other activities in Livingstone. Definitely one of the best thing I’ve done so far. Another reason why I chose this is that the money I paid for goes to a good cause by funding a local pre-school. The person who accompanied me was Patrick Muyunda. He began working at Cowboy at the age of twelve by maintaining and washing the bikes. He also studied English and eventually ended up as a tour guide for this company.
Our first stop was at the quarry located in the outskirts of Livingstone. Known for its close proximity to the waterfalls. The people living in this area are poor. Many of them work in the quarry to make a living. I noticed a woman nearby. I don’t know exactly how old she is. If I had to guess, she is probably in her late 60s or 70 something. That is the age where people are supposed to be retired! But in third world countries like Zambia not everyone is lucky. It was an extremely hot day and I can’t imagine working in a place this. She sat on a dusty ground. All around her were piles of gravel. Beside her are small rocks, which she breaks apart by using a hammer. Hoping to fill a wheelbarrow worth a dollar by the end of the day. If there is a buyer. The sight of these people was so heartbreaking. They work so hard without guarantee of earning money to secure them a meal. It was at that moment when I took initiative in helping someone.
We stopped by on a small market where I bought some food. The lady who worked there seemed pleased to see me. She was so happy that she gave me an additional small bag filled with tomatoes and a box of eggs as a gift. I gladly took it. All these because I bought too much from her. We went back to the quarry and gave it all to the old woman. Although she never asked for my help. She was very thankful as I placed the bag beside her. It was all food worth probably for almost a week.
We continued through the suburb of Linda. Passed the Livingstone Railway. And eventually we stopped for a bit at Dambwa Market. A place rarely visited by tourists. In this market, you could literally find everything you need. From furnitures to peanut butter. There are countless rows of stalls filled with second hand clothes and other things. Women selling dried beans & fresh vegetables. Dried caterpillars are for sale as well. Obviously a reason why there are no butterflies in Zambia. I had to try it out of curiosity. Patrick told me to put a little bit of salt before eating it. Nothing special really. Just a mere salty snack which I will never try again!
Last stop was at Cowboy Pre-school. A small community based school founded by Cliff Sitwala in 2003. A local regarded as a hero. According to Patrick, Cliff made a living by taking tourists on bicycle tours back then when he was alive. After years of hard work, he put his savings to good use. And that was to build a school for the underprivileged children. This self-funded school started with only three mud huts for shelter. While the lessons took place outside. Nowadays, the place has six classrooms & a kitchen providing a healthy lunch for the children. The man who started all these, along with Patrick and the rest who continued his legacy has been an inspiration to me. A perfect example of how a simple person can make a positive impact on others.
While I cycling through the suburbs, people would wave and smile at me. I have no idea how many times I’ve been greeted. “Hello. How are you?”. “Welcome to Zambia!”. It is impossible to not notice their friendliness & kindness. Zambians are really one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. And as I crossed the border to Zimbabwe, I thought I should have stayed longer.