14.04.2009 - 16.04.2009
Oooooh. A train. And not just a train, but a long one as well. 22 carriages worth. And an alleged 44hour journey. I've always quite enjoyed long train journeys, but even then it is still reasonably infrequently that I get to spend a full calender day on a train. I was actually looking forward to it.
But it was also a return to the good (bad?) old days of chauffering 3girls around, except that this time I didn't actually have to do any chauffering and the girls were not all Finnish. I'm still not entirely sure how, but to much screaming down a phone a week or so previously we had gained two Polish friends of Maaret's. At least it cut down on 3way foreign yabbering, but instead left me with 2way foreign yabbering (and 3way excitable English discussions which, to my ears, were pretty much yabbering anyway) which was not necessarily an improvement. But it was most definitely back to 3 foreign beauties to travel with, and I can't help feeling that as an ugly mutt, my luck must be rapidly being exhausted. At this rate, I kind of expect to spent the next month or so traveling with a lawyer, a politician and the head of Aylesbury's tourist information bureau. Then there was the delayed departure from Lusaka by bus, and the wonderful nun's – I think I may have found the happiest person on the planet - showing off their school before feeding and provisioning us in Kapiri Mposhi. And by provisioning, that does include enough bottled water to float the Ark
The train, to my utter amazement – and almost accidental failure to be on the damned thing when it moved – left promptly and without fanfare at all, and the proceeded to rattle and bounce it's way across North-East Zambia for a day or so. Eventually at the border, we we're welcomed to Tanzania and continued to roll Eastwards. Sadly, my SIGG water bottle – as opposed to the 33plastic bottles we had started with as part of the provisioning act of New Kapiri Mposhi - decided that it didn't want to visit Tanzania, and jumped out of the window on one of Northern Zambia's bouncier sections. Currency was exchanged at the border, and prices all changed from Kwacha to Schillings. But not with any great logic: the restaurant car had a printed menu with prices in both, but they had not been uniformly converted: Meals of 12,000kwacha, for example, came out at 2500 or 3000 schilling at random.
Tanzania was glorious: we passed mountains – always a favourite of mine - and snaked down off the side of the the Great Rift valley down onto the plains of south-central Tanzania and then into the Northern edges of the Selous National Park: Elephants (my first in Africa), Zebra, Giraffes, Wildebeast, Monkeys, Boks and much else were spotted and gazed at for the next few hours, before we then slowly finished our decent to the coast.
By the time we got to Dar-es-Salaam over 50hours later, we were 6hours late and had been traveling at a stunning rate of just over 37km/h, yet to me it did not matter in the slightest.