Christmas In Livingstone

Written By: The Lowdown - Dec• 31•00

cover2000-12The Christmas spirit died many years ago in Livingstone. As soon as Livingstone became a tourist town, it meant that Christmas became a time of work. For the weeks running up to the holiday period, all the lodges make special preparations for their guests. From Christmas to New Year the lodges are often full and the staff are run off their feet. It may be different this year as the problems in Zimbabwe have had a devastating effect on many of the lodges. Clients from overseas have been watching the news and will not risk coming to Livingstone. Clients from Southern Africa usually come through Zimbabwe on their way to Livingstone and are worried about the fuel crisis there. So, all in all, it looks as if we are in for a quiet time this Christmas.

For many of us Zambian residents now is a good time to visit Livingstone before the new hotel is finally complete. By April, the hotel will be taking its first guests and things will change at the Victoria Falls. Now it is still as Zambian as it has been in the past many years. There are few people who wander through the Falls area and it is a personal experience. When the hundreds of guests arrive at the Sun Hotel, visitors to the Falls will have to join the crowds. It will be quite different. Anyone thinking of coming to Livingstone should consider staying at one of the small lodges along the river. Along the Upper Zambezi with the Zimbabwe National Park on the opposite bank, a river full of hippos and a generous supply of water birds you can find Thorntree, The River Club, Tongabezi, Kubu Cabins, Chundukwa, Mawala and Zambezi Royal Chundu. There is also Jungle Junction on an island in the river. Along the gorges of the Lower Zambezi and with the most spectacular views there are Songwe Village and Taita Falcon Lodge. They are all great places to stay and offer personal service. The prices vary quite a bit so check first. Karien Joosten at Active Link on tel 323-726, can give you details.

Shopping in Livingstone is generally a dull experience. We have a mixture of the old and the new. The old shops are the ones where you can buy anything and nothing. Everyone knows these shops, they are all over Zambia – you can buy a bag of mealie meal, spares for your bike, a plastic plate and a length of chitenge. The new consists of the likes of Shoprite, Pep, Supreme and HiFi Centre. For my Christmas shopping list I bypassed all of these (Shoprite is OK for some stocking fillers). I found myself with not much choice. Kubu Crafts was my obvious first choice for present buying. It is a small shop crammed full of furniture and other household items, most of which are made in the workshop at the back. At the lower price range there are things like a wine rack at US$20, candlesticks at US$15, lamps at US$30 and picture frames at US$20. If you want to splash out, there is a selection of garden furniture – a lounger at US$175 and garden chairs at US$65. There’s also a great four-poster bed at US$640, a lounge suite (two morris chairs and settee) at US$650. The furniture at Kubu is all handmade and beautifully finished off. It is furniture which is made to last a lifetime and everything there makes a very special Christmas gift. Next door to Kubu Crafts is another small shop – La Mirage. It has a range of safari clothes which are of very high quality. Men’s shirts are K45,000; men’s shorts are K35,000; ladies’ safari suits are K85,000. There is also a selection of T-shirts – adults K28,500 and kids K18,500. My next stop was just down the road to an area we know as Two-Seventeen. It became known as this because of the plot number and the name has stuck. Here is African Visions Art and Craft Gallery. Its market is the tourist but there are some interesting things us residents can buy for Christmas. I found at some Moore pottery – a vase at US$12, mugs at US$2.50 and table candle lights at US$20. There are also some beautiful wall hangings from Luangwa – prices range from US$60 to US$220.

We used to have a bookshop in Livingstone (it was mine). I have recently closed it down. Last year I sold 4 books over the Christmas period. That was a good month. Business generally in Livingstone is still not good. Will the new hotel make that much difference – we shall see in a few months time.

Seasons Greetings from us all here in Livingstone.

by Gill Staden


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