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Archive for October, 2008

A considerable amount has happened in the last month, so we’ll recount a few of the better stories/the ones we remember the best. On October 6th, we left Namibia for the Lake of Stars (LOS) festival in Malawi. As the LOS film crew, we wanted to gather compelling promotional footage for the festival’s organizers and some live performance footage for the Deep Roots Malawi documentary we’ve been working on. So, we (Adam & Benjamin) spent three grueling days traveling 3,000km overland each way from Namibia to Malawi. Along the way, we stopped in Livingstone, Zambia, home of Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Benjamin, on the edge of Victoria Falls

Benjamin, on the edge of Victoria Falls

You have to take a taxi from Livingstone to the actual falls, which are on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. When we got out of the taxi, I had bananas in one hand and chips in the other. Benjamin had a backpack on and only had room for the bananas, so I proceeded to carry the chips in my hands, which turned out to be a mistake. As we were walking down the hill (Benjamin, per usual, was delivering a long monologue about something academic), an alpha-male baboon climbed over a fence and came sprinting towards us, a little drunkenly as if he were rabid. I began tapping Benjamin and saying there is a really large baboon sprinting at us….Benjamin turned to look at it right as it stopped just a foot short of us. The baboon stood on its hind legs and stared us down, blocking our path.

I, seeing the whole process, had time to plan my actions. Once I alerted Benjamin, I looked at the baboon, turned and ran. Benjamin, caught completely by surprise, looked at the baboon and took at a swing at him with his Nalgene bottle. The baboon dodged his swing and suddenly lost interest in him, instead taking off in hot pursuit of me. After getting about ten yards, I looked over my shoulder and saw the baboon chasing me. In front of me there was a tractor-trailer truck and I decided to try to juke at the truck and fake out the baboon.

Well, I was wearing sandals and running rather quickly on gravel. The juke was an utter failure. I slipped down and slid under the truck in a large cloud of dust. As I climbed out from under the truck and got to my knees, I looked up to this baboon standing over me. At this point cab drivers were throwing rocks at him trying to scare him off, but he didn’t budge. Completely disoriented, I realized that I had chips in my hand, so I threw a shovel pass in the air, and straight out of a playbook, the baboon caught them, jumped the fence in one leap and was gone. I got up and continued walking to Victoria Falls with an insane heart rate and abrasions all over the left side of my body. By the time we got to the falls, I was almost to the point of fainting, not from the beauty of the falls (while they are nice), but from looking at blood dripping down my arm and leg. Long story short, Adam got mugged by a baboon.

Luckily, a day later we arrived at the the Lake of Stars festival in beautiful Senga Bay, Malawi, aptly nicknamed ‘the land of a thousand smiles.’ The set up of the festival was brilliant…the stage backed up to a large rock, a smaller and yet still impressive stage similar to that of Red Rocks amphitheater. The best part however was that the stage was adjacent to the beach. So while listening to music and dancing, people were able to hang out on the beach or jump in the water during the daytime heat. We camped about 50 yards from the beach.

The Lake of Stars music festival in Senga Bay, Malawi

We filmed three days of music, and because we had press passes, we were able to get some great on-stage footage as well as interviews with the musicians backstage. And, since Lake of Stars is a relatively small music festival, there was much more interaction between the performers and the spectators than at other festivals, with several performers during the weekend collaborating for impromptu acoustic jam sessions right on the beach, inviting anyway who could sing or play to join in.

Feeling the rhythm

Feeling the rhythm

It was a pretty special environment, and we felt more connected to music than we have in a very long time listening to those jam sessions on the beach. There were probably about 3,000 people in attendance at the festival, most all who were camping on the grounds. Many of the people were from the U.K., but there were also many Malawians there, as well as Canadians, Americans, and people from other parts of western Europe.

Sunday morning gospel

Sunday morning gospel

During the festival, a cut on Adam’s foot from the baboon got infected and continued to swell until he could barely walk. Our first night there, a guy at the beach bar saw his bandages and inquired as to what happened. Turns out he was a doctor, the festival doctor. With a beer in hand and who knows how many in his stomach, he doused Adam in iodine and bandaged him up. After which, he offered us cigarettes; we said no thanks doc. By the end of the festival, Adam knew almost all of the medical personnel in attendance. Also, throughout the weekend, we would meet new people who would ask what happened to his arm and foot. Often, before he could respond they would say, “wait, are you the guy that got attacked by the baboon? Oh wow, that’s awesome dude. I heard about that last night. Great story!” Then Adam would hobble away…great story…

On our way back to Namibia, we traveled with two Scottish girls who are doing a year of travel around the world and were heading in the same direction. On crossing the border into Zambia, we had to get a cab ride for 20 km to the next town. About halfway into the ride, the driver pulled over. He told us that there was a roadblock ahead and he didn’t have an official taxi license. He said that the roadblock would be removed within thirty minutes, so we waited. While waiting on the side of the road, we became somewhat of a spectacle for the village kids, so we put on a show, borrowing bikes from two kids and racing up and down the street. Benjamin won…but keep in mind, I was injured :).

Finally, a police officer came walking over the hill. He saw us pulled over to the side, and asked the cab driver to get out. They talked for a bit. Finally, the police officer, at the peak of irritation, asked for the cab driver’s keys, jumped in the car and drove off without the driver. While parked at the roadblock waiting for him, Benjamin jumped in the driver’s seat and drove about a 100 hundred yards down the road as a joke…the police weren’t amused. After a long wait at the roadblock and a trip to the police station, we arrived at our hostel three hours later.

The rest of the trip back went pretty smoothly. We went on a cruise down the Zambezi River, where we saw hippos, elon, and crocodiles. It was beautiful. After traveling, 7,000 km, a distance equivalent to Miami to Seattle and halfway back, we arrived back in Otavi ten days later around midnight. The next morning we took twenty-four middle school age kids four hours to the coast for the national marathon.

Sunset cruise with hippos on the Zambezi River

Sunset cruise with hippos on the Zambezi River

We are now in our new apartment in Tsumeb and have been here for about two weeks. We’ll give more details about our home, daily lives and the work we are currently doing in the next update. Sorry about the length of this one. We like to write more than we thought.

Hope you all are well,

Adam & Benjamin

P.S. We’ve been out of the loop…was there some sort of election in the states?

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