Royal Chundu Lodge, Zambia: After stepping off the boat we were ready to have some food stuck in our faces. And loll about while waiting. For guys like Clayton Morar this was used furtively updating Facebook statuses, submitting stories, Tweeting and keeping up with work at home. I decided early on that I wasn’t going to worry too much about what’s going on at home. Except a call to my kids every night, I purposely decided to focus on the job at hand. Chill-working.
The good folks at Blaauwklippen was kind enough to send along some bottles of their aperitif, Before and After , a deliciously yummy sweet wine, with rose notes and all sorts of other wine tasting jargon that means “lekker”. They also supplied us with some Potstill Brandy and Zinfandel, a Californian favourite, made here in Stellenbosch. This set the tone for before and after dinner drinks, with some people opting for some cocktails instead. What was in store for us was quite a treat, Zambia style! We were escorted to the dining area, outside, much like a lapa for us of South African persuasions. Don’t however assume that means Kurt Darren blaring from a hi-fi atop the lapa-bar, a Blue Bulls jersey mounted somewhere or braaivleis. Not that there is anything wrong with any of the above per se, but this is not what we got. We got a David Livingstone daydream:
And we got food. This was our opportunity to taste some Zambian delicacies, while Jenny was going to cook up the next evening’s menu. For those of you not residing in Africa, I wish to highlight that although outdoor living is a huge part of South African culture, it’s not like we get to do outdoor dining every day of the week, except the mandatory braai, which is for all practical purposes an organised religion. We live in urban, sanitised environments with frozen foods and Grey’s Anatomy, like most other people.
Zambian food draws from somewhat East African flavours, despite being landlocked, with prawns and the like being prominent, along with local fish from the Zambezi, like tiger-fish. European influences by now is felt all through Africa, because of Portuguese, Dutch, German, English and French colonisations through the past two centuries bringing cuisine onto the continent and marrying it with the local produce.
What is dinner without a show? Well, it turns out we were to be enlightened into some of the traditional courtship dances and rituals of the ancients in Zambia. This includes guys in masks and woman shaking parts of their bodies where most people don’t have parts.
After such a show, both Jenny and Liezel were sufficiently star-struck to be photographed with the dancers.
At this point, most of us were pretty bushed, and opted to head back to our respective rooms. For us that meant a beautiful midnight boat-ride on the Zambezi.
Once we got to our cabin, not much but sheer will-power was keeping our eyes open, especially after the gentle murmur of the boat’s engine, the sway of the river and the food and wine becoming one with us.
The day after held a lot more in store, among other things, the great Victoria Falls, but more about that, next time.