Our last night at Mana pools was very quiet. We woke to a glorious sunrise, the sunrises here have been more spectacular than the sunsets with vivid reds and pinks glowing over the Zambezi River. Mana Pools is a magical place, so whilst we didn’t see all there was to see we didn’t feel cheated. It is so special just to experience bush like it!
Al coped with the drive out well, those 32kms of corrugations on the dirt road out are not easy. We found the Zimbabwean people warm and friendly and in our talking to them, we heard a recurring theme. All have suffered and continue to suffer under bad economic times, which is why South Africa beckons as the land of hope. Our game guide was explaining that he usually only gets paid 8 out of the 12 months’ salary due to him, as payments get later and later in the month until they skip one and so on. Having just experienced the stress ourselves of never knowing when Al was going to be paid, it gave us an appreciation of what life for them must be like.
Before we knew it we were in Chirundu at the Zambian border. We discovered that the petrol tank repair had not worked, so stopped to have a look in Chirundu. There was no place to help us there so across the border we went. The border post was not busy- but they did give us a runaround! They were not happy with the police clearance that we were given for the Sani, but eventually let us though. Then we had to find Zambian Kwacha- to pay certain things, but also needed US dollars for others. Having figured that out, certain officials went to lunch and we waited….
Once through the border there were a few things I needed to restock. In the one shop when I was getting milk there was a man there who commented on the price of the milk, “In Nairobi you would pay US$ 0.5 for that.” So I said, “But we’re not in Nairobi so have to pay the price we pay!” We laughed together over that.
Fortunately we had planned to stop over at Gwabi lodge 11kms from Chirundu. Arriving here we decided to stay in a chalet which has proved to be a very good decision.
Al asked the receptionist Merle where he could take the car to have a look at the petrol tank, she pointed the lodge’s workshop, and offered their help. The mechanic, a Zimbo by the name of Precious has been amazing. He and Al and Al have been working on and off now to try to plug the leak since we got here. Whilst to keep myself busy I’ve been in the pool! So we’ve had an extended stay here. Lovely view, great food and staff.
The fuel tank has been a saga and half with a small crack deep in a recess. That was repaired with a fiberglass patch last night. The tank was installed and refilled this morning only to find it was still leaking but was not clear where from. Tank drained again (90l) and removed. Several rounds of repair followed – we tried a compressed air pressure test but I think we may have overdone the pressure as it lifted the patch from the tank. We filled half the recess with resin type of putty. Then tank being in the sun expanded away from the ‘plug’ leaving a gap down the side of the recess. This we filled with plastic steel and a layer of prattley’s putty. The rest of the recess was then filled with resin mixed with fiberglass, topped with a few sheets of fiberglass for good measure. If that doesn’t work then I don’t know what is next! Neither does the mechanic!
We plan to head for Lusaka first thing tomorrow heading for South Luangwa. Here’s hoping!