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Thursday, 5 August 2004

Chicken Bus Supreme

Unfortunately our return coincides with the school holidays. All of the buses in Livingstone are full of kids going back to Lusaka. We pass the time eating chips. I need the toilet and am directed to a bar round the corner. The bartender is snippy and tells me it is a fee-paying toilet. I wave my 500kwacha (5p) at her. I am told that ‘Henry has the key’. Clearly Henry is very important. An old man leads me up some steep steps at the back, and with a flourish unlocks a broken-down door. The toilet is foul and there is no water. Where are the 1,000kwacha fee-paying toilets when ya need ‘em?

We wait 4 hours before finally getting on a bus with some free seats. It cannot leave until the luggage from the previous passengers has been offloaded. Someone has wiped out the entire Lusaka knicker supply. I have never seen so many giant shiny red pants with gold stars. A woman is parcelling up these thousands of knickers. I guess she’s going to sell them on. I hope Livingstone has enough big bottoms to fill them all. A fight breaks out between two men; they begin rolling around on the giant packets of pants, like overgrown kids on some perverted bouncy castle.

Our bus is not as luxurious as the one on the outward journey. And there are at least five crying babies and ten packets of dried fish. No chickens though. Also it leaves late which means that it will be dark before reaching Lusaka. The journey is interminable and our only hope is that all the food-serving establishments in the city won’t have closed before we get there.

The sunset is, as always, stunning. Tonight the sky reminds me of an ice-lolly you could get in the seventies, but the name eludes me. And that annoys me…It will hit me in the middle of the night when I'm least expecting it. Must google it - I'm sure there's a website about ice-lollies of the 70s.