Hunting – – Day 1

Day 1- Friday July 10, 2009

Plan was to set off at about 1pm in the afternoon. We all gathered at Nelson’s place at about 1.30- African time for you. But Nelson himself the man of the hour, was nowhere to be seen. He had gone off to pick up the last few things, most importantly ice for preserving the meat on the ride home. Since about 12.30 he had been promising to be on his way home. He didn’t show till 2.30pm.

We packed up all of our supplies and everything we thought we needed for 2 and half days in the bush in the Nelson’s Bighorn, the Trooper and the trailer that we had hitched to the Trooper. At about 4.00pm, we were all packed up and ready to go, or so we thought. Nelson had forgotten some paperwork at Jesmondine and so needed to go back and get it and we needed to fill up the Trooper with diesel. We set off to get gas and Nelson to get his paperwork, planning on meeting up at the Petroda filling station outside of town.

Trying to beat the traffic in the heart of town, we set off towards Kamwala market. We apparently had forgotten a few things: 1. It was now the end of the workday and so there was heavy traffic during rush hour; 2. it was also the end of week and so there were even more cars on the road as commuters tried to make their way out of town. Seriously, traffic was grid-locked. We spent over 30 minutes barely making a mile. The public transportation bus drivers, had at this point resorted to getting off the road and driving on the sidewalk, so that they could get their passengers to their destinations and to pick up more passengers.

When we finally made it out of town, we stopped for fuel and lunch and then set-off towards the bush. At this point I was beginning to get more familiar with my fellow hunters. Abel and Phillip rode in Nelson’s car. They were students from the University of Zambia (UNZA). My dad (Okorie) was driving the trooper and riding with us in the trooper was Vic, a white Zimbabwean chap that now lived in Zambia and Solomon, an old friend who had often accompanied Okorie and Vic for many hunting expeditions. The stories and the adventures that these 3 fellows share would fill a book and more. I was looking forward to the stories and adventures that this trip would bring. As the only female on the trip, it was important to me that from the onset, I wasn’t treated as such and was seen as just one of the fellows and I made that explicitly clear.

Trying to make up for time, we hurried through the Zambian countryside, blasting through Kafue, and stopping in Mazabuka to get more gas and say bye to Okorie’s friends, the Kutis who had been in Livingstone viewing the Victoria Falls and were set to leave Zambia before we returned from the bush. Night had fallen upon us and we were hoping to still be able to make it into Lochinvar to set up camp the same night so that we could head out at day break in search of our targets early Saturday.

So after the pleasantries had been exchanged and gas was put in the car and all who needed to, washed their feet (group slang for using the bathroom), on we went towards Monze. The park (Lochinvar) was located just outside of Monze. We made it to the turn-off by about 7.30pm, the sign that was now too dark to read, stated that Lochinvar was 42km away from the turn-off on dirt roads. Oh, boy, had we read the sign, we might have saved ourselves some drama, but no that just wouldn’t be any fun and so off we went off the tarmac and into the bush without reading the sign.  About 12km into the bush, in the dark, we were flagged down by some chaps next to a stalled vehicle. They had blown a tyre on the dirt road, which is quite commonplace on these treacherous dirt roads and of all things did not have a jack! So we stopped to give them a hand and let them use our jack so that they could carry on their way.

Just after the stalled car we came up on the gate into the Kafue National Park, I think. We came upon a gate anyway. Shortly after the gate, I saw a sign for Lochinvar and assumed we were being welcomed into the park. So, being me, I felt adequately welcomed and made no mention of the sign. On we went down the dirt road for about 2 hours, till Solomon asked that we stop and get directions because he was sure we had missed the sign pointing us in the right direction. At this point, I say, “oh wait are you looking for the sign that said Lochinvar, I saw it a while back.” I probably should have kept my mouth shut but that’s not like me and so I set myself up for some major ribbing the rest of the hunting trip.

Trying to get back on the right road, we stopped a number of times to ask for directions. Note that, it’s about 10.30 at night and the only people on the road are the village drunks attempting to make their way back home. The first guy that we stopped to talk to, quite literally ran away from us. He was high and I’m guessing we must have looked somewhat scary perhaps dangerous- haha. Anyway he comes back and talks to us making absolutely no sense. So, on we went and we asked the next fellows we came up on and they said keep going down the road and after the second bridge turn left and you’ll get to the gate. We kept going but that second bridge seemed elusive and so we stopped again to ask for directions and this time the old man who was helping us replied in Tonga saying, “hajime, hajime, hajime,” or something to that effect which in English meant, “I am also lost, can you help me? Do yo0u know where I am?”

At this point it’s late and we’re cold and seriously lost. Nelson’s following behind us about 100 yards so he could see through the dust. After coming up on a truck, whose driver said, yes, he was heading back from Lochinvar and we needed to make a left turn to get to the park, we decided to wait for Nelson to catch up. He didn’t. We assumed that he had found another road to the park and so turned around to find him, which mind you wasn’t easy because we had the trailer hitched to our car and the road was not very wide. We found nelson and he hadn’t found a road. He had…. wait for it…. blown a tire! Oh, the irony. So we obviously stopped to deal with that. As we were done fixing and replacing the tire, we were met by two chaps who ended up conning us into giving them a lift that took us out of our way a bit and set us on a village road that at many times was not a road at all, but hey, as long as we were moving in the right direction.

 7a Hunting Lochinvar 096

Finally after waking up a school teacher, fetching water from a well, wolfing down high energy cookie and driving through a ravine in search of “the lights” (directions from the teacher), we arrived at the gate. It was now 12.30am and freezing cold outside. Blocking the gates with our vehicles we parked outside and all but Vic slept in the cars for 5 hours till the gates opened up at 6.

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