So we were off! We had to wait until the postman arrived before we could leave as Lurch was expecting a box of cigars from a website in Gibraltar. They were dirt cheap, apparently, and they didn't materialise in the post, little did I know how significant that was to be.
El Vel and Sean met us at Gatwick, took our car home with them and off we flew on the night flight to Windhoek, Namibia. We got about 6 hours sleep so once we picked up the beast with the roof tents we continued to drive for about 4 hours north before camping overnight. The next day we didn't manage to set off until 10am as a result of poor organisation and then drove for another 5 hours, heading towards Zambia. Same thing the following day through the unrelenting scenery that was the Caprivi Strip in the North of Namibia, burning bushes and an arrow-straight road, not even a curve to lend any change. The boys were pretty bored by this stage but being good, reading in the back of the car. I was beginning to feel fractious as Lurch had promised me the driving wouldn't be too bad. Lurch, on the other hand, was metamorphosing into a snarling monster - I had no idea of the extent of his nicotine addiction and he couldn't find a cigar in Namibia to satisfy his cravings. He was horrendously foul tempered.
We finally crossed the border into Zambia and we were all looking forward to staying in the Waterfront in Livingstone, which sounded fantastic in the guide book. 'No need to book' said Lurch. More like 'no vacancies'. We eventually found somewhere else but I was tired, dirty, bones aching from rooftents and roads and bitterly disappointed. As we drove into the campsite we had a huge row and Lurch swore at me. I gave him the international sign of the middle finger when the children weren't looking, but I'm afraid the 6 elderly South Africans on the pitch next to us were. In the middle of it all a lady came and asked me if I would like a pedicure for $15, telling me she could get rid of my cracked, dry skin and restore my feet to human being status. A chink of light! Lurch responded from his foetal position for me 'Don't worry, I'll clip her toenails for free, we're on an economy drive!' I turned on my poor old heel and stomped off to the bar on my own and watched the Olympics with the barman whilst I calmed down.
I returned to the pitch an hour later to discover that the boys had told Lurch they never wanted to hear him swear at me again and he was very sheepish indeed. 'Time for the spa then' he said and I looked around for the beautician but he had his car keys out and actually meant the supermarket Spar. Never mind, all was calm again.
So Livingstone, land of milk and honey, a buzzing thriving place full of enterprise and industry and we loved it.The following morning we ordered a taxi to the Victoria Falls and Benson arrived to pick us up wearing a T-shirt with the slogan 'I'm with Barack Obama, and you?'. We hopped into his taxi which was adorned with white fur that kept wrapping around Danny Boy's neck as we gathered speed, and had a lively conversation about US politics. Then we arrived at the Falls. I have never seen anything like it in my life. The Falls are spectacular and we were awe struck. We spent a morning walking around them and then went to meet Benson at the allotted time to take us home. He wasn't there so we waited for half an hour; Lurch was pacing again and then Benson's friend Pearson came to get us as Benson had been held up with other business. Lurch was uptight and I explained the nicotine scenario to Pearson, who sympathised kindly. Pearson took us to the Spar again and we got a few things for dinner. When we came back to the car he had visited every possible place in the shopping centre to try and locate a cigar for Lurch. Failing in that he then took us free of charge to the Royal Livingstone and Lurch found a cigar for US$150. I reminded him of our economy drive and he didn't buy it so Pearson took us home. We were to encounter Zambian kindness like this on many more occasions. As we were leaving the following morning one of the South Africans came over wearing khaki shorts, displaying his vast naked gut adorned with a silver white scar from open heart surgery. 'When you get to England, open this and think of me' he said and handed over a bottle of South African brandy 'It was good to meet you'. We were astounded as we'd been so awful when we arrived and it made me feel ashamed.