Today we surrender our car keys and turn ourselves over to the tender mercies of the Bushcamp Company. We had stopped in Mfuwe Lodge for a drink on the way out of the park last night, easing ourselves back into civilization. We were dusty and sweaty and rumpled, but still they welcomed us. Despite the dust and rattle, I will miss the freedom to set our own schedule and pace. I might even miss having something to do: setting up and taking down the tent, cooking, organizing, cleaning up. But, in exchange, I will have time to make notes in my trip diary, read my book, write a postcard, watch a lizard eat bugs on a log.
We had a leisurely breakfast – we didn’t have to meet our connections at the Mfuwe airport until 10:00 a.m. We then started reorganizing ourselves back into our own bags. This is clearly an activity the monkeys were keyed into – suddenly I hear people in a neighboring campsite say, “Oh, look at the monkey in the back of the car. Should we tell them?” I realized that the “them” was us, and shooed a monkey out of the back of the land rover, but not before he snatched a bag of raisins. In another moment of distraction, one made a raid on our table, puncturing a box of milk. (Fortunately, we had another for our coffee.) Feeling besieged, we quickly wrapped up our sorting and packing, and retreated to the ablutions block for showers.
We passed along some remaining gin to our neighboring Dutch brothers, who seemed rather disorganized and unprepared – it didn’t seem to be a good combination for bush travel. They seemed to have a lot of complaints – their expectations were not matching their experience. Other campers had a ruined trip: their broken down land rover had been abandoned in the camp for several days, and no one had come to retrieve it yet. We met one British couple making their way across Africa in a Volvo station wagon. But, we realized that we were one of the rarest sightings of all: Americans camping in Zambia. We tried it, and we liked it. All of our friends and family thought that we were crazy to do it. But, we will probably do it again!