Alan & Kathy's Trip To Africa
September / October 1997
Part 4 of 6 - Zambia

Week 2 (continued)
Wednesday 24 September 1997 (continued)

We drove down to Lake Kariba, passed through Zimbabwe customs, crossed the Zambezi on top of the Kariba dam, and approached Zambian customs. Their customs office was high above their parking lot, and each step of the staircase was a different height and width. Alan showed the customs officers his 1963 Zambian drivers' license, which brought a smile to their faces and was passed around the whole office. After an hour of paperwork for our car, we entered Zambia.

As we left Kariba, we immediately discovered the pothole jokes were true, though slightly exaggerated. Worse, people jumped onto the road at the sound of our approach, hoping to sell us something. The first time this happened we stopped our car, thinking it was a police roadblock, and the vendor wasn't pleased when we didn't buy his wares. After that, we decided it was safer to keep moving. Sometimes two vendors stood so that you couldn't pass without hitting one of them, but we discovered that if you kept moving, they jumped clear.

After a harrowing ride dodging potholes and people, we reached Siavonga where we rejoined the main road north from Chirundu to Lusaka. We also encountered our first police roadblock. After checking our car papers, the policeman, who was working without shade in 42 C weather, asked us for a drink of cold water. Once we joined the main road, there were no more aggressive vendors and no more potholes until we neared Lusaka. Coming through the Zambezi escarpment, we saw a large truck that had just left the road. It was upside down with its truck bed hanging down the side of the mountain, and its inverted cab partly blocking the road. The driver was sitting nearby waiting for help to arrive.

Entering Lusaka, the potholes got bigger and more numerous the nearer we were to the city centre. We arrived at rush hour, and found downtown full of vendors walking between the lanes of traffic, eight to each car, selling the drivers an amazing variety of goods - fruit, brooms, lamps, cookies, radios, cooking pots, electric fans, even a stuffed dog. Following the directions e-mailed to us by Rob and Lois Neufeld of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), we found their home and the adjoining Mennonite Guesthouse.

We had time for a short rest before dinner. Over delicious lasagne, the Neufelds introduced us to the music of the Soweto String Quartet, who play African music on classical European instruments. We also discussed the street vendors we had seen downtown. The vendor who supplies them with cookies earns a net profit of about US$15 per week. After dinner we retired to the guesthouse for the night.

Thursday 25 September 1997

After breakfast, Godfrey Lungu visited us. He is a friend of Alan's school friend Martin Brett, now in New Zealand. Godfrey delivers books donated by the British Council to schools all over Zambia, and reported that the road we planned to take north from Lusaka was in good condition.

We said goodbye to Godfrey and the Neufelds, packed our car, and went to a bank where Alan got Kwachas and a supermarket where he stocked up on snacks and soft drinks for the day's drive. As we had been warned to do, Kathy remained in the car to protect it, with the windows closed and doors locked to protect her. You can imagine how this felt in that tropical climate!

While Alan was gone, Kathy noticed a security guard reading a Bible out loud to other people. Then three or four large trucks drove by filled with people, mainly women, singing in the most beautiful African-style harmony. Later we were told that these must have been Christians going to a funeral.

970925a.jpg From there we went to Alan's former boarding school, where we introduced ourselves to Mr. Mtine, the Headteacher. He was making a list of his predecessors, and Alan helped him with 1962 and 1963. He said they now have 3,000 students (the school was built for 800), and many needs, but the most urgent is books for their library, as they can't teach without books. He asked us to appeal to schools in Canada to adopt his school and send them obsolete books. We also learned that the entire school had no water that day.

970925b.jpg We walked around the classrooms where Alan had studied. Two students accompanied us, fascinated to see this "old boy" visiting, and we discovered that one of them attends the Assemblies of God. We spent some time in the chemistry laboratory, where nothing works any more; on the bright side, any damage Alan did in 1963 is no longer visible! Then we drove past the former boarding hostels, now a home for cripples, and saw Alan's former window in the room he shared with thirteen other boarders.

We left the school and headed downtown via Church Road, the same route Alan used to cycle as a boarder. Alan recognized the spot where he had a car accident in 1963, and realized for the first time that it occurred right outside the Anglican cathedral. Soon we crossed the railroad, turned right onto Cairo Road, and left Lusaka headed for the Copperbelt.

The road north was rough for the first five kilometres, but after that it was excellent all the way to Kabwe. We noticed that some independent truckers in Zambia paint messages like "God never fails" or "Trust in Jesus" all across the back of their truck. After Kabwe the road deteriorated so much that for a while we thought it might be the wrong road, but after Kapiri Mposhi it was excellent again. Before reaching Ndola we took the short-cut to Luanshya, and immediately encountered hundreds of potholes, some half the width of the road. By then it was getting dark, so we slowed the car and travelled erratically from one pothole to the next.

At the end of the short-cut we reached a police checkpoint. They waved us through, and a few minutes later we arrived at Lowden Lodge in time for dinner. The rooms were comfortable, the water safe, and the food good, but the manager's attitude was rather colonial. The lamp in our shower had burned out, and fell apart when the manager tried to change it, so Kathy had to shower by flashlight. "At least there were no snakes," she said, having met one in the shower as a child in Paraguay.

Friday 26 September 1997

970928a.jpg We left Lowden Lodge after breakfast and drove the five miles to Luanshya, Alan's home town. The archway at the entrance to the city is still there, and so is Alan's former home, but reaching it was a challenge because some roads have been closed, for security. The residential area is now isolated from dusk to dawn - gates are locked across all exit roads except one, which is guarded.

970926a.jpg Alan's home is much the way he remembered it. His father's hand is still evident in the washing line, driveway gates, gazebo, carport, vegetable patch, and orange trees - which still don't produce fruit. One of the two peach trees remains, but the lemon tree and the rows of paw-paw and banana trees are gone, and the small fir tree outside the front door is now a giant aloe.

The supply of "garden water" (inexpensive untreated water, piped separately to garden taps) failed when the pumps fell into disrepair, so lawns are no longer watered, and remain brown through the dry season. Vegetables are now watered with expensive treated water piped from the house, and this extra demand sometimes causes water shortages, so everyone keeps a few gallons of drinking water handy just in case.

970928b.jpg Inside Alan's old home, the major change is the additional security. The burglar bars Alan's father installed in 1962 are still there, but look flimsy in today's Zambia. They have been supplemented by thick steel bars, like a maximum security jail - except that the people inside have the key. The electrical system has been re-wired, although the lampshades still look the same.

Downtown, little has changed except for the obvious results of thirty years of neglect. There are only two new buildings, both grey concrete government offices. The two banks, Barclays and Standard, are still on the same corner and, unlike the rest of town, are well-maintained and look prosperous. The two places where Alan's mother worked, Werner's Butchery and Luanshya Bakery, are still in business, though Werner and his name are long gone. All three new car dealers are gone: Duly's now sells beer, Peart's sells gasoline, and Northern Motors, where Alan's family bought four new cars in the sixteen years they lived in Zambia, now stands empty.

Figov's department store is still open, and Alan spoke to Maureen Figov. She and her husband Dennis now run it as an auction centre, and Dennis is also active in the Rotary club. Our teenage hangout, the Dairy Den, is gone, absorbed by a relocation of Johnson's Hardware to the front of the building. Alan spoke to Mr. Johnson, who has lived in Luanshya since the 1940's, and drank a Fanta Orange soft drink, for old time's sake, in the part of the store where Alan used to hang out with his friends Dave and Martin.

970926b.jpg Across town, we visited the recreation complex. Outdoors, the Olympic-size swimming pool and sports fields look good and are still in use. But indoors, the library, cinema, ice cream parlour, restaurant, ballroom, and theatre are all closed; only the bar is still in use. The theatre still bears the name of RADOS, the Roan Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society, which played a big role in Alan's teen years, but RADOS is long gone.

We drove around looking at various homes that had played a role in Alan's life. 6 Jacaranda Avenue, Alan's home during elementary school, still bears the mark of a lightning strike which showered hot brick fragments on his mother. 78 Eucalyptus Avenue was the home of Alan's friend Dave Smith, now in Cape Town, and was being renovated when we saw it; apparently an officer of Binani, the Indian mining firm which recently bought the Roan Antelope mine from the Zambian government, will be living there.

Martin's old home, 61 Riverside Avenue, seemed unfamiliar until Alan realized that it used to be a corner house; the homeowners on either side have each claimed half the sidestreet as additions to their garden. Alan spoke to the current occupant and learned she earns US$55 per month as a midwife at the Thompson Hospital (named for Jack Thompson, the popular mine manager in Alan's day). She gave us the name of a relative who'd moved to Canada, and after our return we were able to find him (in Ottawa) and put them back in touch with each other.

Alan's home during high school and University was 12 Oleander Avenue, and its current occupants, Elwyn and Roslyn Davies, honoured us with an invitation to stay with them. They even put us in Alan's old room! Alan felt strange knowing his way around their home almost as well as they did. They had told their guard we were coming, so we were already settled in when they arrived home from work.

After we chatted about all the changes in Luanshya and Zambia since the 1960's, Elwyn and Roslyn took us to the mine mess, which still operated much as it did years ago, for a dinner served in the elegant manner of bygone days. Alan had kudu, and Kathy had garlic chicken. We discovered that the group at the next table were all engineers from an American mining consultancy, which turned out to be a subsidiary of H.A. Simons, where Alan worked for over 20 years. Small world!

970926c.jpg After dinner, Elwyn and Roslyn took us to the Pony Club. This club was started after Alan left, and the grandstands and pony track are still there, but now only the clubhouse is in use. We met some of Elwyn and Roslyn's friends there, and were joined by the visiting American engineers.

As we returned to the Davies' home, we heard people singing in beautiful harmony across the street. Our hosts suggested we go and investigate, and it turned out to be a Pentecostal church which meets at 17 Oleander Avenue just beginning an all-night prayer and worship vigil. We were invited to join them, heard a good sermon based on chapter 4 of Nehemiah, and spent perhaps half an hour worshipping God with them. We finally went to bed after midnight.

Saturday 27 September 1997

970927a.jpg While Kathy caught up on her sleep, Alan went to see Luanshya Primary School and Luanshya High School. They were little changed, except for brick security walls and the same deterioration we saw everywhere. A primary school teacher told Alan the government was finally paying for maintenance, and showed him some concrete blocks beside an old foundation. Alan remembered that his first classroom in Africa was a prefabricated steel building on that spot. In 1954 the building was moved to another school; now, after its foundation has been exposed to tropical weather for 43 years, they expect it to support a new building heavier than the one for which it was designed. Alan photographed places which held memories for him in both schools.

970927b.jpg After lunch we drove the 50 kilometres to Kitwe, most of this on an excellent four-lane highway. We had a short visit with Jan Schmidt and Dave Pankratz of the Mennonite Central Committee who are working at the Mindolo Ecumenical Centre.

970927c.jpg We returned to Luanshya by nightfall, arriving just in time to join Elwyn and Roslyn as they left for Luanshya Golf Club. There we met the mine manager, who proudly told us he had persuaded the new owners to restore the mine's original name, "Roan Antelope". We also met Ian Milward, owner of a drilling company, his wife Rita who is active in the Women's Institute, and Eugene Yobe, who works for Ian. Eugene surprised Alan by greeting him by name! He was a reporter for the mine magazine Roan Antelope in the 1960's and remembered interviewing Alan for a story about engineering students from mine families.

Sunday 28 September 1997

970928c.jpg Luanshya's remaining unseen attraction was Makoma, a private club on the lake created by the mine's tailings dam. Elwyn, realizing there wasn't time to visit Makoma that evening, organized a brunch "braai" (barbecue) there with the Milwards. Elwyn and Roslyn brought the charcoal and food, so Alan's only responsibility was to bring a lighter, which he managed to leave behind! Elwyn and Ian begged some fire from other picnickers and cooked a hearty meal, while we chatted and watched the sailboats on the lake.

Partway through our brunch, Jazz Solanki arrived, another surprise organized by Elwyn. In Alan's youth, the Solankis owned upscale shops throughout the Copperbelt. Alan's school uniforms came from Solanki's, as did the watch engraved "from Mum and Dad" for Alan's 21st. birthday. The Solankis are now all over the world, but Jazz has remained in Luanshya. After brunch, we made our way through the "second class trading area", where Alan used to save money on bicycle parts, back to the Davies' home.

970928d.jpg In researching this trip, Alan had corresponded with Pat Coleman, an American missionary in Luanshya. After we had booked our flights, Pat announced his engagement to Sherry Welch, another American missionary there. The date they chose for their wedding coincided with our visit, so they invited us. Pat and Sherry both have Jewish ancestry, so they held a beautiful Jewish wedding on the lawn outside Luanshya Christian Brethren Chapel, which was Luanshya Synagogue in Alan's youth. Sherry walked around Pat seven times, then they stood for the ceremony under a canopy representing God's presence, like the cloud in Exodus 13:21.

970928e.jpg They shared a glass of wine, then Pat stepped on the glass to symbolize that marriage is as irreversible as the breaking of a glass. Finally they signed the ketubah, a marriage contract kept by the wife. Dennis and Maureen Figov, now Luanshya's only Jewish couple, signed the ketubah as witnesses. After the wedding, Pat and Sherry treated their guests to samoosas and soft drinks. Our wedding gift to them was the Jewish New Testament, a culturally sensitive translation by messianic rabbi David Stern.

That evening, Elwyn's friends Robert, a doctor from Luanshya Hospital, and Ben, an analytical chemist, dropped in to visit Elwyn. We had an interesting chat about how Luanshya used to be and what it may be like in future. Alan asked Ben how there will ever be another generation of chemists in Zambia, given the condition of the school laboratories Alan saw in Lusaka and Luanshya.

After they left, Roslyn told us about violent crimes which had occurred in Lusaka. She warned us to be very careful. Elwyn had also expressed concern about our safety in Lusaka, so we promised to let them know when we arrived safely in South Africa.

Monday 29 September 1997

Monday morning we rose early and took a long last drive around Luanshya. Alan showed Kathy the location of the high school, and we filled our Toyota with fuel for the long trip ahead. After photographing the main entrance to Luanshya, we left town and located a former beauty spot called Paine's Bridge, once a secluded picnic area by a picturesque wooden bridge, isolated from the main road by half a mile of forest. Sadly, the extensive deforestation of Zambia for firewood has stripped Paine's Bridge of all its beauty; it is now an unremarkable place on a wide, dry plain.

We returned to the main road and headed south to Lusaka, passing through no less than six police roadblocks along the way. At the one closest to Luanshya, when we were asked why we were there, Alan showed his 1963 driver's license which gives his address as Luanshya. The policeman looked at the old photo and proclaimed, "You were fresh then!"

We had been warned not to stop for anyone other than uniformed police, so we were concerned as we approached one roadblock where the investigator wore street clothes. However, the orange cones looked official, and two officers in uniform were nearby, so we stopped. When the investigator asked for our insurance papers, Alan asked if he was a policeman. He replied, "Plain clothes. Here we have the CID." [Criminal Investigation Department].

In Lusaka we parked outside Bible House. While Kathy stayed to guard the car, Alan went to the Mennonite Central Committee offices on the top floor to let them know we'd arrived. Lois Neufeld needed a ride to Choma that day, and since we were going there too, we were glad to have her company. We filled up with fuel nearby, bought some fruit, and then headed south.

We bought samoosas, chicken pies and gyros at a Greek restaurant Lois knew just outside Lusaka. Near Kafue, we stopped to look at wood carvings for sale at the roadside - kudus, giraffes, elephants, even "kangulus" which belong in Australia! Alan bought a small elephant table, to remind him of the large ones which served as coffee tables in his childhood home.

The turnoff to Mazabuka and Choma wasn't signposted, so we were glad Lois knew the way! Before we left Canada we had read that this road was in poor condition, made worse by long "deviations" (detours) to allow repair crews to work on it. However, by the time we arrived the repairs were complete, and most of the road was excellent. We reached Choma in late afternoon, and were welcomed at the Brethren in Christ guest house. There we met an American missionary with a Toshiba 1200 laptop computer, a model Alan had used in 1987-89, so they discussed some of its more obscure but useful features.

Week 3
Tuesday 30 September 1997

After a leisurely breakfast with Lois, she volunteered to wash the windshield of our car so Kathy could take clear videos of our journey. After doing our best to scrape the sticky seeds of a local tree from our shoes, we climbed into the Toyota and headed south. A few potholes later, we passed safely through Livingstone and, about 10 km later, reached the Musi-O-Tunya Intercontinental Hotel. The name means "smoke that thunders", and is the local name for the Victoria Falls, which is less than 5 minutes' walk from the hotel.

The Musi-O-Tunya was built in 1968, just after Alan left Africa, and in many ways is a typical European or American hotel with Zambian decor. However, as in much of Africa, not everything works, or works correctly, or works all the time! The dresser was rickety, leaks from the refrigerator had stained the floor, the tiny TV faintly displayed only half the advertised channels, and most importantly, the toilet wouldn't flush. As we expected to be there only two nights, we settled for flushing the toilet with the plastic waste paper bin. At first it leaked through numerous cigarette burns, but fortunately we had brought Canadian duct tape.

All of this was forgotten when we went for a walk in the adjacent Musi-O-Tunya National Park. The Zambezi river, which forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, approaches the Victoria Falls as a broad, slow river 1,700 metres (over a mile) wide. Then quite suddenly it pours over the edge of a huge crack in the earth, 100 metres (350 feet) deep with steep vertical sides. At the bottom, the once-placid river becomes a raging torrent and escapes through the first of several deep gorges. This part of the Zambezi is now recognized as one of the world's finest places for river rafting.

971002a.jpg Alan had seen the Falls as a child, during the rainy season when they were full. But this time, we arrived near the end of the dry season after two years of below-average rainfall, and the entire north half of the river was dry. Far from being a disappointment, this allowed us to see and do things that are impossible when the river is full.

The path from the hotel goes along the edge of the chasm directly opposite the Falls, and in the wet season it provides the very best view of the Falls. Even dry, the Falls is a spectacular sight; a sheer, rugged vertical rock face, with mist rising at the south (Zimbabwe) end, where the water was falling just out of our view. We were surprised to see people walking along the edge of the precipice opposite us, where a few months later huge volumes of water would be falling again. While we had safety rails to protect us, they could walk right up to the edge and lean over it! We resolved that night to follow their example the next day.

No account of the Musi-O-Tunya park would be complete without the monkeys. The Victoria Falls area is home to thousands of monkeys, including many vervet monkeys. These are highly intelligent, with the largest vocabulary of any living creature besides humans - 54 distinct sounds which not only express friendship, pain, and alarm, but can describe potential threats (they have a word for humans) and their location. Vervet males are easy recognized, as their male parts are a dazzling cobalt blue. For more about vervet monkeys, see

Returning from our walk to the Falls, we passed through a craftsmen's market. As before, every vendor hounded us to be their "special" customer, which proved counterproductive for them all because we found it hard to make decisions. Alan was especially interested in malachite jewellery, because besides being a beautiful green mineral and semi-precious stone, malachite is an oxide of copper and thus symbolizes the Zambian copper mining industry, which began when William Collier discovered copper ore at Luanshya in 1902. Without that, Alan's family would not have moved to Zambia in 1952, and his whole life would have been very different.

971001c.jpg Kathy selected a Malachite bracelet, necklace, earrings and a small bowl. Then we returned to the hotel for dinner, a buffet-style four-course meal served elegantly on an outdoor terrace next to the pool, with live music. The band, five Zambians under the Spanish name Los Camarados, played music from America, Mexico, Zaire, and Kenya. It was so lively that we wanted to sing, dance, or join in some other way. And then we retired.

Wednesday 1 October 1997

Walking to the car in the morning, Alan saw one of the hotel employees walking on the roof. Seeing Alan's curiosity, he explained "I'm chasing away the monkeys!" At that moment his supervisor threw him a slingshot so he could shoot at the monkeys. Since the hotel adjoins a national park, the monkeys can't be hunted or trapped but only scared away from the terrace where guests dine.

As Alan reached the car, a huge monkey jumped from the hotel roof onto the car roof, and from there to the ground, to join his friends in the trees. His impact made a small dent in the roof, but fortunately Alan was able to push it out, so we didn't have to pay for damages.

971001a.jpg That morning we returned to the national park, this time setting out across the dry riverbed upstream of the edge of the Falls. Because the riverbed is a basalt plain, some parts resemble roughly set rectangular paving stones, while other parts have deep rounded holes where the current has swirled a rock or pebble around in a depression. In a few places the rounded holes have joined together, leaving strange curved rock formations resembling huge hip bones.

971001b.jpg We walked all the way to Livingstone Island, which in the wet season is a true island on the edge of the Falls about halfway across. Our half-mile walk took about two hours over the uneven rocky riverbed, in the hot Zambian sun, with frequent stops to look over the precipice and take pictures. At Livingstone Island the ground was littered with evidence that elephants had been there, but the elephants were nowhere to be seen. Crossing the island, we came to the river and were amazed that it flowed smoothly and slowly right up to the moment it plunged over the edge. With no safety rules or guards to hinder us, we were able to sit on the very edge of the Falls, look over the edge of that sheer 100m (350 foot) drop, and put our hands into the moving water just a few feet (1m) before it began its fall. It was an amazing experience.

At one point Alan dropped our camera, and it fell at his feet only two feet (0.6m) from the edge of the Falls. On another occasion the wind caught Alan's Tilley hat, and the chin strap must have been loose because the Tilley left his head, taking his glasses with it. Both fell in some sand quite near the edge, and it was fortunate they didn't go over the Falls! The glasses were now sandy, so to avoid scratching them, Alan rinsed them in the Zambezi before wearing them again.

By this time we were quite thirsty and had used all the water we brought from the hotel. So Alan decided to trust the claims made for the traveler's water purifier we had brought from Canada. The manufacturers claim that it makes any "reasonably clear" water safe by using a paper filter to remove cysts, protozoans and other large creatures, an iodine filter to kill all bacteria and viruses, and then a carbon filter to remove leftover iodine and improve the taste. The Zambezi was very clear (despite the fact that hippos bathe in it upstream from the Falls, and some people were swimming in it nearby), so Alan boldly filled the purifier with Zambezi water, took a sip, and encouraged Kathy to do the same.

We can attest that the taste was excellent. Whether the purifier really worked is open to question, in view of what happened the next day - though the author of a recent National Geographic article on the Zambezi claimed to drink its untreated water daily, without ill effects, while researching his article. In any case, we are proud to say we drank from the great river of Africa, on our walk back to the Zambian shore.

There we paid our second visit to the craftsmen's market, and after the usual haggling and emotional appeals we acquired two beautifully carved rhinos for our sons Peter and Paul, and some malachite necklaces and malachite bracelets on brass for our daughters Monica and Michelle.

By this time we were completely exhausted from the long walk in the hot sun, so we rested in our room (fortunately, the air conditioner worked) and had the hotel bring us some iced water. After a nap we were ready for dinner, with Los Camarados entertaining us with popular songs like "My Way", "Guantanamera", and "House of the Rising Sun". They also played some South African songs that Alan remembered. Kathy captured the group on video.

Thursday 2 October 1997

As a parting shot, the taps (faucets) in the Musi-O-Tunya Intercontinental's bathroom took to spurting at us, as if air or steam was trapped in the pipes. We were not surprised to hear, a few weeks later, that this hotel had been purchased by Sun Resorts, a South African chain which plans to build a much better hotel at the same beautiful spot. Sun wanted to begin by demolishing the Musi-O-Tunya, but the Zambian government (remembering a previous investor who demolished a stadium, then went bankrupt before constructing the promised replacement) persuaded Sun to use the existing hotel as a construction office until the new facility is complete.

At our last breakfast in Zambia, Kathy left our table to take videos of the staff chasing the monkeys. While she was away, one monkey stole the bread roll from her plate, while another stole an apple from the buffet table.

After checking out, we drove the short distance to the Victoria Falls bridge and went through customs, doing paperwork for the car on both sides of the border. On the Zimbabwe side, we soon found the hotel where we had to return the Venture to Europcar. The lady managing that office very kindly offered us a couple of hours grace period, so we could see more of the local sights before our flight to Johannesburg.

Our first stop was to see the Falls from the south side. At that time of the year, the south side offers a much better view of water falling; however, because visitors are protected there by fences, it's not possible to get close enough to the edge to see all the way to the bottom, so you don't really see the height of the Falls. That's best seen from the Zambian side, especially from the footbridge which spans a small gorge opposite the Falls. We took pictures from the south side of the spot on the very edge of the falls where we had been sitting the day before; it looked much more daring from the other side of the gorge!

Next we made a brief visit to the crocodile farm, where we saw the crocodiles being fed and Alan held a young one - very carefully! On our return to Europcar, the employee who was supposed to drive us to the airport hadn't returned from an earlier errand, so the office manager drove us to the airport; on the way, she saw the missing employee at the side of the road chatting with a friend. At the airport, we paid the hefty departure tax and boarded our British Airways flight to Johannesburg, where a surprise awaited us.

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