Friday, November 02, 2007


To put this post in perspective - we started our African adventure in Cape Town, flew to Namibia, and then flew to Lusaka, and then to Mfuwe (pronounced m-foo-e you prounounce the "m" ever so slightly with the accent on foo) which is near the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. It took me a while to learn how to pronounce it properly. The flight from Lusaka to Mfuwe was on a smaller commercial plane holding maybe 30 people. As we made our descent into Mfuwe, my first thought was "I'm flying into National Geographic" as I saw the round thatched roof houses.

As we walked out of the airport, we saw the other safari vehicles from the other lodges waiting and boarding their passengers. We found our driver and climbed into the Land Cruiser. It was late in the afternoon, almost evening. As we drove through the village, there were people out walking everywhere. Some were on bicycles. We seemed to attract attention. While most people waved to us, some seemed astonished. We think it was Henry's beard. Beards are not common here, and Henry's is long. The small children got so excited as we drove by - they waved enthusiastically and we waved back. The older teenage boys were above such things as waving. Most of the adults waved as we went back. We waved back. I began to feel like the queen in "The Princess Diaries" or as if we were a single car parade. But I also began to wonder, what do the village people think of the tourists. Are they glad we are here bringing money into their economy? Does it bother them that we are going to lodges that may seem filled with luxury next to their simple huts? What do they think as we are chauffered past them in our big safari vehicles as they walk or ride their bicycles? I am glad to say that most of them smiled at us as we rode past and most of them gave us big friendly waves!

Mfuwe seems to be a long, thin village lining the road. We past numerous stores, business and homes. Some of the stores were made simply with what I now know is elephant grass. Others were brick and plastered small buildings.

I did not have my camera out the evening we arrived, but I suspect the light level was so low that photos would not have been great. But when we left the Luangwa River Lodge and drove through Mfue again, I was ready with my camera.

The morning we left Mfuwe the roads were not as crowded with people as the evening when we came in, but this will give you an idea of what you see as you drive through the Mfuwe area: people walking along the side of the road and riding their bicycles. Bicycles are a major form of transportation here and it is common to see people riding on the back or in front of the one peddling the bicycle.

This worker is taking these vegetables to market. Strangely enough these vegetable greens are called "rape" and seem to be part of the broccoli family. They are cooked and served as one of the side dishes.

The women still carry things on the top of their heads. I don't think I could ever learn to balance something like this and still walk. They have to have strong neck muscles as well to carry things on their heads.

There are many kinds of homes in Mfuwe. Some are simple huts made from elephant grass. I suspect if we entered a time machine and travelled back hundreds of years, these houses would look very similar. Note the fresh thatching materials on the right. The thatch must be replaced regularly to stay water tight.

This home is built of brick (probably from those termite mounds). I believe that the new looking thatch structure is their outdoor kitchen. Zambians do their cooking outside over open fires. The rainy season is coming and this will shelter the cooks from the rain as they prepare their meals.

This was one of the nicer homes in Mfuwe - notice the metal roof and the potted plants on the porch.

There were several areas of "market places" along the way. We did not have a lot of time and I was not planning to bring back a lot of souvenirs. Plus I did not have any experience at the time with the bargaining. I wish now I had taken time at some of the vendors along the way. While some had touristy merchandise, most were the stores where people bought what they needed. Notice the use of the natural construction materials.

The local equivalent of our department stores -

There were booths for vegetables and fruits. And I even saw a furniture maker.

But all of the merchandise probably has to be put away at night and taken home to be redisplayed the next morning.

This was one of the larger stores - a grocery store. There were quite a few - some that I suspect were banks. I wish I'd had Linda with me to explore the shopping at Mfuwe. She knew her way around Kolomo. I know that there are lodges around Luangwa where you can do your own cooking. I'd be more comfortable now going to market and shopping after shopping in Kolomo with Linda. On the other hand, it was very nice to be able to enjoy the wildlife watching and photography without having to cook each meal. Plus, the food at our lodge was excellent.

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