Over the holiday period I travelled to Zambia to have Christmas with my parents. It was two years since I last visited Zambia for part of my Masters research project, and I calculated that it had been 12 years since I was last there during the rainy season at Christmas. Things have certainly changed since I left in 2003 with people walking about in santa suits and hats in 25 degree heat and selling Christmas trees by the side of the road!
Aren’t my parents cute?! It was nice getting to spend some time with them. It’s a bit crazy that it was 5 years since we had Christmas together, but that’s what happens when your family lives on four different continents. Hopefully next Christmas we will all be in the one place!
The rains began the weekend I arrived, not so good for me wanting to get as much sun as possible, but definitely good for everyone out in the fields wanting to plant their corn. When it wasn’t raining I spent most of my time relaxing by the pool, reading, making new friends, scrubbing rust from a metal chest (more about that another day) and checking out the elephant orphanage.
Did you know that a baby elephant drinks milk for 4 years? Either did I until I visited the elephant orphanage at Lilayi Lodge. Poaching is a real problem in a number of countries in Africa, and Zambia is no exception. The orphanage has I think about 15 baby elephants of different ages who have been rescued from poachers, or found wandering alone and malnourished in the bush. The older ones are at a managed game reserve, while the younger ones are on the Lodge’s property. During the day they roam around, coming back twice a day for a milk feed.
You need to get there at exactly 11am to watch them feed the baby elephants. Come a minute too late and you’ll miss it as it only takes a few seconds for them to drink their milk down. Some can drink it on their own, while the younger ones need a bit of help.
Once they’d finished drinking their milk they have a wander around the pond, get some shade before heading back into the bush. Each baby elephant has it’s own ranger who acts as it’s surrogate mother. This one above in particular was very friendly with his ranger. After they’d drunk their milk two of them had fun having a stand off and then play fighting
Since I visited smack bang in the middle of the rainy season, rain was ever present during my trip. I LOVE the smell of rain on dry earth and think this was definitely influenced by living in Zambia 6 years. When I last visited in 2012 it was the dry season, so it was interesting watching what people got up to when it rained. It doesn’t rain in Zambia, it POURS down. One thing I noticed that I thought it was quite cute was seeing women AND men wearing shower caps as they walked around the city when it rained. When you think about it it makes sense if you want to keep your hair dry. Much better than walking around with a plastic bag on your head (which I’ve seen in Liverpool… true story!).
You know how I said when it rains it pours? I wasn’t joking. When it rains in Africa, it really rains. Roads become rivers VERY quickly! Check out the “road” from the petrol station below…
Driving through the city is always entertaining thanks to the ‘Travelling Boutiques’. It’s always interesting to see what they have on offer to sell. Whether it’s mobile phone minute, newspapers, hats, fresh fruit, sunglasses, board games, car parts… you name it they can sell it to you while you are waiting to turn at an intersection!
Actually, driving in general is a completely different experience in Zambia. Seat belts are optional, and the more people you can fit on the back of the truck the better.
One day we went about an hours drive out of the city to visit some friends who live in a big safari tent. As we were driving along the bumpy dirt road my Dad suddenly called out and stopped saying ‘there’s a giraffe!’. We reversed the car back a few metres and saw about 4 giraffes hiding behind the trees, just chilling.
When you’ve lived in Africa it’s easy to get a bit blasé about things, forgetting that there are dangerous animals and critters lurking about. Our friends told us about how they had had an encounter that morning being chased by a black Mamba! Thankfully no one got hurt and it slid into it’s burrow. This cool blue headed lizard was a welcomed visitor while we ate fresh corn and drunk cups of tea listening to the birds in the peaceful surroundings.
I didn’t do too much of the touristy stuff on this trip, but I’m sure I’ll be back to Zambia again another day!