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Victoria Falls

I'm not a mechanic!

I had an awesome sleep in this morning in my own private room in Victoria Falls, before going out and inspecting my project. I large yellow overland truck in the backyard of the backpackers called Makako, with a picture of Rafiki from the movie The Lion King on the side of it.

I stood in front of it looking at it for a while and then headed off down to see Joy at Backpackers Bazaar in town to get the keys to said truck. I regaled Joy with tails my epic bus journey and she agreed on how bad the border is. I collected the keys, and did a bit of shopping, I had left my hair brush in Cape Town and it was murder trying to find one here. I didn't actually manage it for a few days.

Over the next five days I proceeded to fix up the truck, my first order of business was to open all the lockers and see where everything was. I unlocked everything and tried to open the spring latches. Snap! Snap! Snap! Went nearly all the strings because the truck had been sitting there for so long. Now all the doors were either jammed closed or open. I managed to get a mallet and chisel out of tool box and smash a few open but there were two I just couldn't do anything about.

I decided there was nothing I could do about this at that particular moment and set about doing one of the things I could do. Pitching, inspecting and cleaning the trucks fourteen tents, a grueling job which would take me all day. While I was pitching the first tent a guy called MK came up and introduced himself, I told him who I was and what I was doing and he said I should talk to a guy called Justin who might be able to help me with my lock problem. He said he would send him over when he turned up.

I continued fighting with the tents, amid various smart remarks from passersby, such as Are you winning? Probably not, I said. Eventually. Justin came and found me and said he could get new locks and put them on for me. Wonderful, something is going right.

The cleaning and inspecting of the tents took me the rest of the day, I don't think I had ever done such a hard days work and for so little money. When I went to bed that night I couldn't even count the aches and pains in my body.

The second day of project Makako was spent doing all the other little bits and pieces. Like cleaning the kitchen, inspecting the mats, counting the folding camp chairs, inventorying the medical kit and testing the electronics. I managed to get all of that done miraculously except testing the electronics. I emailed the office who said that the batteries would have been disconnected when it was parked up and to get Dixon, another driver arriving with Vialet on another truck tomorrow to reconnect them. I've already concluded this as by this time, I have already been in the cab and attempted to start the truck.

I've met Dixon before and am thankful they don't expect me to do this as I wouldn't know where or how to even starts. I resolve to spend the rest of the day having a rest as there is nothing else I can do. At about 4pm, the other truck called Shaggy shows up with a full crew of passengers who all pitch their tents on the backpackers only grass. I thank god I have done the tent thing already, as there is now nowhere I could possibly do this.

Dixon gets off the truck and comes over and gives me a hug, it's nice to see a familiar face and we go to the bar for a few drinks and that is basically how this day ends, with me being a bit drunk and getting hit on my numerous guys at the bar, including a guy who calls himself Titanic that did the same thing when I was here with George. I gave him a game of pool and totally destroyed him. I've actually gotten quite good a pool. I decided to go to bed when Titanic thinks it's a good idea to grab my bum and won't get out of my personal space.

The next day, I have Dixon hook the batteries up and bingo, nothing works. I put two and two together and conclude that of course the batteries must be flat as the truck won't even start. Dixon takes a battery off Shaggy to get the truck started and we leave it running for a few hours hoping the other batteries will charge. No such luck, I have no idea what I should do so I text the owner who is a mechanic for advice. He doesn't reply. I resign myself to the fact that again there is nothing I can do and sit in my room and watch TV for the remainder of the day.

The owner finally gets back to me the next morning, by way of a phone call which wakes up both myself and Vialet at 6am. He speaks to me (who doesn't understand a word he says because its all mechanical jargon) and then to Dixon. Apparently, we have to go get the batteries charges. I manage to organize this at about 4pm, I get Dixon to throw the batteries in the back of Justin's ute, and I get in the back with them as Justin is dropping off the rest of the workers from the backpackers for the day.

I go thundering down the main street of Victoria Falls on the back of a Ute with 5 other guys and a load of equipment in it. I attract looks that say, What the hell is that Mzungu (white person/tourist) doing?! We reach a place called Baxton's, at which I am supposed to have the batteries charged. Baxton's looks like a glorified junk heap and Justin leaves me there with the batteries saying Baxton will be along soon and that he will drop the guys off home. I wait around at Baxton's for about an hour and Justin returns surprised Baxton has not turned up. He calls the guy who says he is on his way.

He's playing with us, says Justin, Come, we will go somewhere else. I get in the cab of the ute this time and Justin loads up the batteries. We go to another place and the batteries are all voltage tested. The guy there pretty much tells me the rear batteries, which are used to run the electronics are cheap crap and dead flat. I organize him to trickle charge all the batteries, meaning they will charge overnight and I will collect them at 12pm tomorrow. How I will collect these batteries is yet to be seen as it is Justin's day off and he is going fishing.

I go back to the backpackers and tell Dixon what is going on, I have dinner there and attempt to stay up for a bit. Titanic is again there and is hitting on me again, Vialet has left her laptop with me and I can't go anywhere, Dixon is nowhere to be seen, I curse both of them. Finally, I get fed up and say straight out to Titanic, Look mate, its never going to happen, I'm not going to sleep with you, ever! He shuts up for a bit and then tells me, I will wear down eventually. Vialet comes back at that moment and I say to him, You'll be waiting a long, long time give up. I storm off back to my room, sick of being harassed and Vialet joins me telling me I have everything in the right place over here. African men like white women, who have a figure and big boobs. She says, they don't like these little skinny things like the white guys do. Diet time for me I think, and I've already lost a load of weight.

The next day I ask Joy if she can take me to collect the batteries and she does. I'm again told the rear batteries are cheap rubbish and should be replaced and that they won't hold charge for long. I take the batteries back to Dixon who puts them in the truck, all the electrics now work except the fridge. I text the owner, who again fires back a load of technical crap I don't understand and I tell him as much. I hear nothing for the rest of the day. I give the truck a final clean and mop out in the sweaty heat and have a shower and go to the bar for dinner.

No one else is around so unfortunately I have to sit by myself, and am chatted up by another local guy who just won't take no for an answer. I am clearly fed up by this point and can't move because I am waiting for my food. There are a bunch of guys all wearing safari outfits near the bar. A nice looking South African guy motions for me to come join them. I walk over thinking I might be safe with them for a while and thinking I'll keep an eye out for my food from the bar. The guys name is Lars and he and his mates are all big game hunters, which is actually allowed with some of the animals in Zimbabwe, namely elephants who at plague proportions.

I hang out with the hunters for a bit who invite me to their camp on the edge of the Zambezi, I would have loved nothing more than to have gone off with them but I still hadn't had dinner. I finally ate and then went off to bed, determined not to get hassled for the rest of my time here.

Victoria Falls


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