Travelling to Zambia, doing a safari at Kafue park.
It was back in May 2015. Three years ago, I am in Myanmar. Today I said goodbye to Marika, to Psilos and to Markusaki. When I closed the door, I had puffy and red eyes and I was trying to hold back my tears. I only had one thought in my mind. 'I will never see them again...'
I think it was one of the toughest farewells of my life. In the past, we had talked about that with Marika. This is how expat’s life is. You come closer, you share and then you learn how to move forward. You keep the memories and the relationship goes as it goes through the time. And when you meet again, you feel as close to each other as you used to be. Real friendships last forever.
And yes! It was exactly like that in Zambia. ‘As if it was yesterday the last time we met'.
The plane landed shortly after midnight at Lusaka Airport, a relatively small airport. The Ethiopian flight was almost 12 hours with a transit in Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia. 'A taxi driver will wait for you' '. Marika text me just before I left from the airport in Nigeria.
I look around and I feel a familiar face smiling at me. Few seconds after, I get the stretching and Psilos gets the stooping as we did always in order to hug. He is the one who came to pick me up from the airport.
And yes ... I'm in Zambia. At Marikas and Psilo's house, Markusaki will wake me up in the morning just before he goes to school, he will make me a huge and tight hug, he will call me 'Marou' and this trip will be as exactly as Marika once told me.
As if it was yesterday the last time we met.
The next day, Psilos told me that I must prepare my bag.
'Why?' I am asking him, and he replies with a smile.
No, don’t tell me ... I don’t want to know, no tell me... no, don’t. Just tell me what I will need to take'
The next day around noon and after 5 hours driving in the rain we arrived in Kafue National Park, in western Zambia.
On the right side of the street, I spot the first antelope and outside of our room there where baboons. The hut is next to the Kafue river that is crossing Zambia and the instruction from the manager of Mukambi Safari Lodge is clear; After six o’clock, you do not walk outside, the jeep takes you to the reception. Besides, there is nothing left around. Savanna.
Many animals wander around in the evenings, they’ve found footprints of lions, warthogs, and elephants. In the evening there are different sounds coming from outside and I can see from the window of my room several kinds of birds. Markousaki is sleeping on the bed next to me. Before he falls asleep I am telling him a fairytale. The story says about a girl who is travelling and has many friends from all over the world. We are closing the eyes and we visit each country to say hello to her friends. We are travelling in Myanmar, in South Africa, in Greece ... and it is somewhere in Finland while we are picking up berries when Markusaki falls asleep. (Safari in Κafue national park, the biggest one in Zambia and a home to over 55 different species of animals)
When I said to my friend that I am travelling to Zambia and that I would visit some waterfalls she asked me if I meant Victoria's waterfalls.
‘Well, I don’t remember the name, Marika recommended me to visit some waterfalls.'
What do you mean ‘some’ waterfalls? These are the biggest waterfalls in the world! The Victoria Falls!" said Anna, fed up with my geo-lack knowledge.
With Cedric and Stephen, who I met in Myanmar three years ago and they were also visiting Marika the same days I was there, we took the bus from Lusaka to get to Livingstone.
'It's almost 6 hours.' said the driver when we left around 6.30 in the morning.
People of Zambia are kind and smiley people, but you should never trust a bus driver…
After almost 8 hours and with the loud music of gospel songs during the whole trip, we arrived in Livingstone, to the north of the Zambezi River. A border town for Zambia and Zimbabwe. The town is named after David Livingstone, the Scottish explorer and the first European discovered the Falls.
Victoria Falls is a breath-taking experience and one of the 7 wonders of the world. It’s just spectacular. A curtain of falling water that creates a fog surrounded by the green nature and if you are lucky you can see the blue sky far away. I close my eyes on the bridge and let the drops fall on my face and all I hear is loud splashes from the power of the water. On that bridge that separates the two countries and where is so difficult to see the end of the waterfalls. It’s me; it’s me that I am there.
In Lusaka, I also met Nikoleta. A Cypriot grown up in Zambia. Cause Greeks are everywhere and in Zambia, there is a Greek community. Nikoleta is one of these women, the dynamic but also the 'Dad's girl', as she says. But she is also Greek that shows her hospitality to me though she had just met me.
"I like visiting Greece, but you know... I grew up here" she says, and she smiles.
So, after a week of sharing news and stories, we did camping in the… living room, we did trampoline in the house garden, we laughed, I cooked meatballs and we had braai (BBQ in South Africa style), laughter, tears and hugs and of course, after seeing so many animals... this trip comes to the end with a promise to have the following one soon. This time with the certainty that no matter when that will happen, it will be ‘as if it was yesterday the last time we met’. But beside that this trip gave me two more friends, Stephen and Cedric, who taught me that love is also acceptance and respect.
Follow me to the next country… Budapest, Hungary