A Tale of Two Swamps – A late start

The lodge was more of a motel than a hotel – lots of room for vehicles, and close to the main long distance bus station for Monze, with an associated fast food restaurant.  The rooms were clean but with the usual African over heaviness of dark furniture.  Food was OK but nothing special, and it had to be ordered a good clear hour ahead or else the only thing being eaten into was our evening relaxation time.  The hotel did want to kick above its weight – in the reception were three clocks with time settings around the world, like the best Hilton or Four Seasons.  The problem was that one of these was London, the other two were Johannesburg and … Monze; which happened to be on exactly the same time as Jo’burg.

We had a lot of ground to cover on the south side of the Kafue River – it may have been easier for us to stay closer to the swamp but the accommodation down there was limited.  The small lodges at the Lochinvar Park Centre may have done for part of the area, but that would have made travel times to the west of the flats even longer.

The plan the next day, the Sunday, was to travel with the Fisheries people on a boat to a village on the Kafue River itself.  Unfortunately the day did not start well.  Alphart was tidying up our 4 wheel drive; he had opened up the car and left the keys on the passenger seat.  He had grabbed a cloth from the glove compartment and was cleaning the windows of the previous day’s dust.  As he was wiping the rear window, the wind blew the passenger door shut.  Alphart did not concern himself but the car automatically locked itself a few seconds later; with the keys, the only keys we had, still inside on the seat.

A very embarrassed Alphart came in to tell us – while Ian and I were just putting the last few items in our field bags.  We tried to see if we could get into the car and short of breaking the windows we could find no way in.  The only solution was to drag the rental company out of Lusaka with the spare keys.  Thank heavens we were only a couple of hours out of town and not deep in the bush.  In the meantime, our colleagues from the Fisheries Department had turned up in their vehicle.  Shame there was not enough room for all of us as they had also brought one of our project managers from the EU who were funding the whole project.

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