We had 1200 km over the next 2 days to travel. I’ve already mentioned my affection for our vintage Toyota van. We did decide to upgrade to something slightly larger with air-conditioning and new shock absorbers. We even each had a seat to ourselves!
But the next two days were grueling. It is such a good thing we all got along so well.
We also got to live the expression “This is Africa“, often spoken in exasperation as simply, “TIA”.
The first leg of our journey was to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, a mere 580 km. By all calculations, this should’ve taken eight or nine hours. Unless your van only does 30 km an hour in which case it’ll take 15 hours.No matter how much you like your travel mates, 15 hours on the road threatened the bonds of our fledgling friendships. We were tired; we were thirsty; we were hungry. In short, we were “hangry”.
And the best part of all, we knew we had to get up and do it all again the next day. Thankfully, Vicki made a few phone calls and got us a replacement van that could go the speed limit. So the next morning we set out optimistic and singing songs from The Lion King.
But TIA. We ran out of fuel in the middle of nowhere. Today we came prepared with water and snacks and even some wine which would come in handy.
One of the drivers got out and started huffing it into the nearest town God only knows how far that would be. So deciding that it was 5 o’clock somewhere and facing another 15 hour day, we uncorked a couple of bottles of wine. We actually had to drink up our water in order to create some “wine glasses”. We poured warm Sauvignon Blanc into our water bottles and settled down for a cocktail hour.
Somewhere into the second bottle, a large truck pulled over to see if he could be of assistance. His thought was to siphon some fuel out of his tank to put into our tank. So we began to look around for some sort of a container to use to transfer the fuel Well, bottoms up — we would have to use our wine glasses for fuel cans!
One person sucked on a hose in the gas tank to get the fuel to flow into the water bottles. It was slow going—one water bottle at a time. So slow, in fact, that our first driver, returned with an actual gas can.
Here is a picture of our pit crew!
Many houses are made from bricks that the villagers make. The village will help one family at a time to make a small brick hut.
Esther giving us a tour of her village.
Mfuwe Children Dancing
Adansonia digitata, the baobab, is the most widespread tree species of the genus Adansonia, the baobabs, and is native to the African continent. The long-lived pachycauls are typically found in dry, hot savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa, where they dominate the landscape, and reveal the presence of a watercourse from afar. Their growth rate is determined by ground water or rainfall, and their maximum age, which is subject to much conjecture, seems to be in the order of 1,500 years. They have traditionally been valued as sources of food, water, health remedies or places of shelter and are steeped in legend and superstition. European explorers of old were inclined to carve their names on baobabs, and many are defaced by modern graffiti.
Common names for the baobab include dead-rat tree (from the appearance of the fruit, monkey-bread tree (the soft, dry fruit is edible), upside-down tree (the sparse branches resemble roots) and cream of tartar tree (cream of tartar).
The baobab is primarily found in Madagascar and mainland Africa, but there is one species in Australia. They live thousands of years, but only have leaves for only 3 months of the year. It produces flowers and large squash like fruit. The antelopes, giraffes and elephants eat the leaves and flowers. The Hippos and monkeys eat the fruit. Dried baobab powder is claimed to help with weight loss and controlling blood sugars.
A cowherd in Senegal harvests baobab leaves for forage in the dry season. The baobab is a traditional food plant in Africa, but is little-known elsewhere. The fruit has been suggested to have the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and support sustainable land care.
The African baobab fruit is usually 15–20 cm (6–8 in) long, but can be as big as 25 centimetres (9.8 in). The dry pulp is either eaten fresh or dissolved in milk or water to make a drink. In Sudan — where the tree is called tebeldi — people make tabaldi juice by soaking and dissolving the dry pulp of the fruit in water, locally known as gunguleiz.
Leaves and Seed
Baobab leaves can be eaten as a relish. Young fresh leaves are cooked in a sauce and sometimes are dried and powdered. The powder is called lalo in Mali and sold in many village markets in Western Africa. The leaves are used in the preparation of a soup termed miyan kuka in Northern Nigeria and are rich in phytochemicals and minerals. Oil extracted by pounding the seeds can be used for cooking but this is not widespread.
Baobab leaves are sometimes used as forage for ruminants in dry season. The oilmeal, which is a byproduct of oil extraction, can also be used as animal feed. In times of drought, elephants consume the juicy wood beneath the bark of the baobab.
The children of Mfuwe show us another use for the baobab.