Copyright 2001-2008, James J. Belcher.  All rights reserved.

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Copyright 2004, 2005 James J. Belcher.  All Rights Reserved. 

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Daryl Harding and the Quest for Dhwee

 

      Chapter 3

 

Daryl woke up tired and hungry, but more worried than anything else.  Was he doing the right thing?  Would he end up alone and deserted in some godforsaken Zimbabwe village?  Would he be arrested and land in a Zimbabwe jail?  He had already figured out that he could use the travel agent in the hotel lobby to get tickets and a hotel booking for Victoria Falls.  He would then get a refund, instead taking the train to Chinhoyi, (Or would he change his plans?  He really hadn’t sorted it out.), but first he needed to get hold of a copy of Through the Dark Continent.  

            Understandably, Daryl was back in front of his bathroom mirror before going down to brekkie.  Some things weren’t there that he expected, like skin rashes from allergic reactions to all the new things he had seen, smelled, felt and tasted.  He realized that he had slept a whole night without wheezing, something so uncommon he couldn’t remember the last time.  In fact, he realized he could breathe deeper and his sense of smell was keener than he could remember.  He felt really hungry, something uncommon for him.  However, it was his face that took his breath away. 

It was clear, and the skin was smooth and even!  His acne – he called it the land of pockmarks and craters – was gone!  He had arrived less than 48 hours earlier as Daryl with the three straight A’s he wanted to do without.  Now, his body report card showed the grades he always wanted.  He didn’t know if the results were permanent or temporary, but for the moment, it didn’t matter.  He could always take another taste of the antelope shit.  

For now, Daryl looked pretty OK.  He still was skinny, 73kg on a narrow 183cm frame, and he didn’t have the perfect teeth of a movie star, but never mind, he looked 100% better.  He silently uttered a short prayer and looked up as if God were spying on him.  He had that same thought again: This is it!  My ticket to stardom!  He couldn’t tell Charlie but he was excited, an emotion Daryl rarely felt.  He met Charlie in the coffee shop downstairs.  

Brekkie was pretty much like Melbourne, eating with little talk.  Charlie just reading the morning paper, The Harare Herald instead of The Age, but otherwise, pretty much the same, a man in a suit, white shirt and tie, invisible except for the hands that held the paper that took up much of Daryl’s horizon.  Daryl borrowed a section of the paper and noticed that there was an article (perhaps an obituary) about Dr. Penrith, but he was fearful of reading it.  Unlike the Melbourne Daryl, the new Daryl was thinking about what lay ahead for him that day.   

Charlie should have noted that Daryl was eating a good bit more than normal, and he certainly should have noticed the change in Daryl’s complexion, but Charlie was Charlie, concerned about his own day’s schedule and with no time for Daryl.  He handed Daryl his passport, VISA card and return air tickets.  Their departure date was Sunday, 14 September 2003.  

“Daryl, take care of these things.  You’ll have a rough go if you lose any of them.”  [A rough patch is an understatement if things go sour, considering what I’m planning].  

Charlie and Daryl agreed that it would be Daryl’s job to rent the SIMM chips for the phones and make the arrangements for Victoria Falls, that Charlie would be back for a late lunch, or at least give Daryl a call by one o’clock, “so be sure to be by the phone, or check messages with the hotel operator.”  Charlie had the concierge hail a taxi, shook Daryl’s hand and was gone.  Daryl was suddenly more alone than at any time in his life.  He should have been scared (and he was, a little), but mostly he was excited.  

First off, he had to arrange for phones, and he found out that wasn’t easy.  The Zimbabwean phone system had once been one of Africa’s best, but now there were over 200,000 people waiting for service.  Daryl knew enough about mobile phones to realize they all were digital nowadays and a particular small item called a SIMM chip was in each one.  It was the SIMM chip that gave a phone a particular telephone number.  There weren’t Optus, Orange or Telstra shops on every other corner, like there were in Melbourne – he would have to develop street smarts suitable for Harare if he were to even take step one of his plan.  

He asked the concierge, who understood what Daryl wanted, then told him “Sorry, sir.”  Daryl walked away, and looked back to see the concierge take a mobile out of his pocket and begin to talk.  

Daryl walked over to the cashier and presented his VISA card.  “Please give me what equals two hundred US dollars in Zimbabwe money.”  

The clerk spoke in a very polished manner, with an English accent, probably the result of special training for this position in a four-star hotel.  She was very lucky to have such a good job, far luckier than the vast majority of her countrymen and women.  “I’m happy to do that sir, but if I might recommend, US dollars might be better, depending of course on what you needed the funds.”  

Not sure, but aware of the spiralling inflation of the Zimbabwean dollar (courtesy of the Internet, amazing the knowledge it provided), Daryl responded, “Yeah, then 200 US dollars.”  

“Sorry, sir.  Only the banks have foreign currency.  Barclays has an office across the street.”  

Daryl resisted the temptation to take local money.  He walked across the street, looking both ways before crossing, leery of strange mannerisms and expressions on the dozens of faces looking at the rare young white outsider.  [Are they staring at me?  I guess I’ve sometimes stared at the rare African I’ve seen in Melbourne, but not so hard.  This is weird.]  To add to the eerie quality, Daryl realised more than a few of these black Africans were just standing, not going anywhere or doing anything, just waiting.  [Don’t they have anything to do?  He decided they didn’t, and that was the strangest thing of all.]

The queue at Barclay’s Bank was longer than he’d expected and it was about ten minutes before he reached the teller, a black woman with a somewhat serious expression and a name badge that read “Kinsala”.  Daryl realized he hadn’t figured out exactly what to say, so he just handed her his VISA card.  

She glanced at the piece of plastic and said, “What can I do for you, Mr. Harding?”  That sounded funny to Daryl, because Charlie was Mr. Harding, he was just Daryl.   

He thought a few seconds.  Her stare made it seem more like a few minutes.  “I’d like five hundred dollars US and two hundred US dollars in your stuff.”  

She had that super-educated British tone of voice, like the cashier at the hotel, so different from the singsong string of mispronounced words like the baggage handlers and general population he heard on the street.  “Of course, Mr. Harding.  I will gladly handle the matter for you.  May I please see your passport?”  

He handed it to her.  It was strange to be “Mr. Harding”.  

In a country where times were tough indeed, with 70% unemployment, ten times that of Melbourne, Daryl’s request was a large transaction.  There were forms for foreign currency exchange, VISA debit advances, and Zimbabwean currency reporting, as well as Barclays-internal documents, all requiring supervisor intervention and approval.  The process took over twenty minutes.  Daryl emerged with more cash in his pockets than at any time in his life.  It had cost him slightly over $1,000 in Australian currency and he realized that his one-time $15,000 bank account back home, now 11-and-something after the airfare and this transaction, wasn’t really that great a sum.  

Daryl had always seemed hopelessly careless with things, even money and important documents, but then again, there had always been Mum and Dad.  He pulled out his passport and his VISA card from his right pocket and gave them a good hard stare.  He’d never thought much about it, but the bloke whose photo was on the passport wasn’t Charlie and Emily’s son, just an adult with a name of his own.  The VISA card meant he had financial credit, never mind his education or employment status.  His passport had been stamped “TOURIST – Valid for 90 days only”, with no reference to his return ticket and the seat next to Charlie.  Come to think of it, his Dad – Charlie – was now just another visitor inside another government office, maybe in that same building as yesterday and maybe another office or another building, but it didn’t matter.  

He reached into his left pocket and fingered the fresh banknotes without removing them.  There was a certain comfort in knowing you had the ready whenever it was needed, and didn’t have to rely on Mum or Dad.  This was his first trip overseas, the first out of his home state of Victoria other than a couple of Queensland excursions during school holidays, and they were with Charlie and Emily.  Daryl was alone for the first time in his life and he felt great in some ways, a bit queasy in others.  

He had seen the sign at the front desk, “Enquire about strongboxes”.  He learned that a $Z50 deposit merited a key and a form to sign, a place to put money and valuables, a place his father wouldn’t even know about and couldn’t touch.  He put $US300 there.  The key was another symbol of the new Mr. Harding.  

He walked to the travel desk, fingered a few brochures about sightseeing, including package tours to Victoria Falls, and took a couple.  When asked, “Just looking.  I’ll get back in touch.”  He asked the lady at the travel desk about a SIMM card for a mobile phone, but she said she didn’t have one, couldn’t afford, and besides there was a long wait, almost a year.  When he pressed, she told him to check with ZimComm, the national telephone company.  They had a branch office two blocks down.  

At least they spoke English, even if Daryl had to have things repeated a couple of times.  ZimComm was the next step, so he walked there, stopping twice for directions until he arrived at another multi-story building where ZimComm had a small office on the ground floor.  It was a nondescript building, alongside others easily forgotten. That’s what impressed Daryl about the Zimbabwe he’d seen so far – it was mostly unfriendly and forgettable.  Inside were several clerks, none of whom seemed interested in serving a member of the public, much less a foreigner.  

The office was a place where people either walked in and started shouting and cursing about the lack of telephone service or where older black people came in, almost begging, and were told “ZimComm will get in touch, we unfortunately have a long list of those waiting.”  Daryl spent eighteen minutes in the queue.  He found himself looking at the clock on the wall every couple of minutes, and the time and lack of results from those in front of him seemed long enough to almost talk him out of line.  

When he did reach the front, he knew what to say, even as he could anticipate the shaking head and “No, we’re sorry but we can’t help you.”  He tried to sound as grown up, dignified and as British as the cashier and bank clerk.  He questioned what Charlie would say if they couldn’t talk by phone.  Actually, he knew what Charlie would say.  “Daryl, that wouldn’t be fair to me or your mother, your taking off and not keeping in touch.  It’s too risky.  I can’t let you go.”  

It was his turn now and the words tumbled out of his mouth with surprising ease.  “Good morning.  My name is Daryl Harding and I’m a tourist from Australia.  My father is here on government business and we need SIMM cards for our mobiles so we can keep in touch by phone while we’re here.  We’ll be in your country about two weeks.”  

To his surprise, the answer wasn’t no, just that trained British voice that seemed so out of place.  “Of course, Mr. Harding.  The senior Mr. Harding will have to furnish us with a ZimComm security access number, but that can be arranged through his contact.  By the way, with which agency is he dealing?”  

Daryl’s facial expression must have brightened considerably upon hearing the last remark.  “It’s about the upcoming cricket matches between our two countries.”  

This time it was the turn of the middle-aged black man to smile broadly.  “Then I shall see the fabulous spin bowler Shane Warne from Australia?”  

Daryl suddenly realized he could press his advantage.  “If I can get the SIMM cards by tomorrow morning, I’ll see you get two tickets for the opening match here in Harare.”  

The black hand and arm pumped his strongly.  “It’s my pleasure.  There’s no deposit required with a government-provided ZimComm security access number, and the government, subject to reimbursement, generally absorbs the billing.  Here is my business card – call me before you come tomorrow, bring the two mobile phones and I’ll personally install the SIMM chips, arrange the exchange office to handle the connection and fix you up, no charge.”  

[It seems crazy to hear words like a BBC newsreader coming from someone so black!  At least he has a great smile and is friendly.]  

Daryl again glanced up at the wall clock.  It read 12:38.  His Dad would be arriving back at the hotel for lunch, or at least calling in, in just a few minutes.  As he walked out the ZimComm offices, Daryl’s heart leaped and he wanted to scream “Yeah!” but he held back his emotions.  He looked at the card – his friend at Zimcomm was Walter Daymshona.  He tried to pronounce it and gave up.  He wouldn’t lose that card.    

Daryl’s hotel room had a bedside AM-FM clock radio.  It read 12:52 when Daryl looked at it upon his re-arrival.  He had only waited three or four minutes when the phone rang and he pick it up.  Naturally, it was Charlie.  

“Hello.”  

“Mate, glad I caught up with you.  The Athletics Board staff has invited me to lunch and a view of facilities here in Harare.  Can you get lunch by yourself?”  

Daryl was trying to duplicate the poised, deliberate but dignified tone he had heard and carefully noted that morning.  “Sure Dad, but I checked into the mobile phone situation.  It’s a bit complicated but things are run by the company that everyone calls ZimComm.  If you’ll ask your mates there, they’ll give you code numbers called security access numbers for our two phones.  I’ve arranged with a local ZimComm contact to install the chips, switch over the service and send the bill to the government, all by tomorrow morning.”  

Charlie was stunned.  This didn’t sound like Daryl, not the tone, not the words, not the thorough planning, not like Daryl at all.  [Charlie: Can he finally be growing up?]  Nevertheless, he covered the receiver with his hand, turned to one of the Z-NAB officials by his side and asked about ZimComm security access numbers.  To his surprise, he was told, “Sure, SOP, do you need one or two?  I have a list of them back in a private file in my desk.”  Charlie assured Daryl that he’d bring the data with him when he returned to the hotel that afternoon.   

“Thanks, Dad.  Have a good time.  When do you think you’ll be back?  I’ve got some errands to do, to get ready for Victoria Falls.”  

Again, Charlie was amazed.  A kid who never wore a watch was working out a schedule for the day’s activities, not sitting around.  

“Figure on six, Daryl.  We’ll have dinner in the hotel again.”  

“Fine.  Ta.  Thanks, mate.”   

So unlike Daryl.  

Charlie hung up the phone and shook his head.  His associates asked him if something were wrong, so he just told them “Nothing special” and shrugged it off.  Thank God Emily wasn’t there to ask questions.  

Daryl went downstairs, got a copy of the day’s paper and checked.  Sure enough, an obituary of Dr. Penrith was there, a small column with few details, nothing of interest.  He was hungry again, so he walked down the street to a McDonald’s.  He super-sized a Big Mac combo and didn’t leave a single uneaten chip.  He was tired again, but sleep would have to wait.  He gulped on Cokes to keep awake.  

Daryl’s primary afternoon task involved a library and Through the Dark Continent.  There was a tourist guidebook on the table in the room, but no mention of a library.  There was a National University of Zimbabwe listed, so he called the switchboard and had his call put through to the library.  

When he told the receptionist what he was after, he was asked if he were a student.  Rather than hang up or get mad, he just said, in his most educated voice, “No, does it matter?  It’s for a research project.”  He was told the library closed at 5:30 and that non-students ordinarily could not check books out, but he was free to peruse any materials on-site.  He further was told that books over fifty years old were in a special section normally reserved for visiting scholars only.  

Something caused Daryl to lie, and lying wasn’t Daryl, but he did.  “Well, as a matter of fact, I’m a student at the University of Melbourne’s History Department, but I didn’t think to bring academic credentials.  Would my Australian passport be OK to identify me?”  

“Yes, provided you don’t remove anything from the rare and antique books reading room.”  

“Well, it’s one o’clock now.  I’m staying at the Harare Hilton.  How long would it take to get there by taxi?”  

“I’m not sure, but there’s a regular downtown bus service from the Congress Building direct to the campus.  It much cheaper, only $3 Zimbabwean, and takes just about thirty minutes.”  

“Fine.  How often does it leave for the uni?”  

“Every twenty minutes or so.  There’s a schedule posted at the bus stop in the front of the building, you can’t miss it.”  

“Terrific, see you there.  And what’s your name, mate?”  

“Joshua Ngumbe.  And your name, sir?”  

“Daryl Harding.”  He spelled it out.  

“I look forward to meeting you.”  

“And you.  G’day.”  

Daryl put down the phone and laughed out loud. 

He hurriedly assembled some blank sheets of paper, together with a couple of biros that he tossed inside an unlabeled folder that was intended for the city guidebook.  A ten-minute taxi ride got him to the appropriate bus stop.  He would reach the library by two ten.  The ride was relatively pleasant, possibly because he had cheerful thoughts and adventurous plans, but there were other things.   

The campus of the National University was a jumble of buildings, some very modern and new, everything clean and orderly, amidst planted native trees remarkable for their diversity and colour.  It was a refreshing change from the Harare he had encountered previously.  As he walked up the stairs of the large stone library, he realised the building was so “normal” it could have been back in Melbourne. He introduced himself to the clerk at the information desk, who summoned Joshua Ngumbe via a paging system.  The young black African who returned from the stacks to introduce himself to Daryl may have secretly questioned the youth of the ‘researcher’, but the Australian passport was genuine and Daryl looked and acted the part of a student, so he didn’t give it a second thought.  He personally escorted Daryl to the Research Section, and introduced him to a female clerk who took his book order and returned a few minutes later with a dusty volume that obviously hadn’t been used for decades.  

No, Daryl didn’t make the librarian happier by asking for something a 19th-century white man had written about Africa, but she motioned for him to use the reading desks in the Research Section Only and reminded him it was 2:20 and the section closed at five thirty, when she got off work.  He seemed content to leaf through the table of contents of the three hundred pages of fine print and he kept his eyes open and alert to the clock on the wall.  

It soon became obvious that he couldn’t read the whole work in three hours.  The old-style font and small type made it heavy reading indeed, and there was no index that alerted him to a particular section.  To his astonishment, he discovered he had only volume 1 of a two-volume set!  For that matter, it was a real stab in the dark that there was any reference to camel dung or villagers who ate the stuff.  Daryl was discouraged, but he nevertheless plunged into the manuscript as best as he could.  

He skipped over much of the introductory chapter, the trip to Zanzibar, preparations for the safari and other irrelevant material.  He instead started poring into the material about the actual treks, which began at page 37.  It was difficult to make out the poor quality type on the yellowed pages and he found that one page per two minutes was zooming at his fastest.  He’d never finish that afternoon.  

He looked around and was inspired.  There was a coin-operated copier over in one corner.  He walked over, saw copies were thirty Zimbabwe cents and enquired of the clerk.  She was unaccustomed to someone wanting to make 300 photocopies, but there was no rule against it, and the machine took only eight or ten seconds per page.  She made change for him and he was off to the races.  He peeked at the copies during the process; they were legible.  Cover to cover, volume 1, then volume 2, collected and copied.   

By 4:30, for the equivalent of forty Australian dollars, Daryl had his material collected.  Upon his return of the second volume, the clerk muttered, “You’ve got racists enough in the US and the UK today, so why read junk from one a century and more ago?”  

Daryl, ever pleasant, responded.  “I’m not reading books about a white hero.  I’m not researching that aspect.  I’m researching some finer points of his discoveries to learn how far he strayed from the truth.  The truth of history is always important, isn’t it?”  

The clerk smiled.  “So long as you don’t take him on his word, and I understand he didn’t have many good ones about Africans.”  

Daryl politely shook the clerk’s hand.  “I’m going to be visiting places to clear up some research items.  I don’t just take the word of old English farts from a hundred years ago.  I ask folks here, descendants of those he met, and I investigate.  Believe me, Stanley won’t get a clear pass in my work.”  

This brought another smile.  Daryl made a mental note and realized that he was of European descent and the wrong colour to fit in – he forever would be an outsider in Zimbabwe, a land where the whites had largely fled the country in the two-plus decades of Mugabe rule.  

He would hide the photocopies in his room.  He was back at the Hilton by 5:10, a good forty-five minutes before Charlie was due.  It was only his thinking about meeting his Dad for dinner that he realized he had eaten a big lunch.  He’d still felt mildly hungry all day, so it must have something to do with the antelope dung.  He decided to get a real look at his afternoon’s work, knowing that cover-to-cover for two volumes was over six hundred pages and it would take a day or more to slough through the whole body of fine print.  

He got his next mental dousing of cold water when he read the publisher data about the printing of the work.  Yes, it was two volumes and it was the thirty-seventh printing, done in 1893, but it was the additional material that struck him.  There was a listing for “Other Works by Sir Henry Morton Stanley” and it included How I Found Livingstone (1872), and In Darkest Africa, (2 vol., 1890).    

Would Daryl have to pore over five volumes (even if they were available and he could copy them as well)?  Daryl thought about it and decided he needed to collect more data on Sir Henry Stanley.  He turned on the computer, dialled up the Internet, and was reviewing the listing of Stanley biography data when he got the idea to look at maps of Africa to better orient himself as to Stanley’s travels.  

The phone rang.  It was Charlie.  “Daryl, I’m back.  Ready for dinner?”  

Daryl fumbled, “Sure, where are you?”  

“In the lobby.  Why don’t I come upstairs, wash up and we’ll go down for dinner?”  

Daryl knew he should hide his research from Charlie yet save things for easy access.  He would need a few minutes, so he asked the unexpected.  “Dad, instead of another meal here, why don’t you ask about other restaurants, so we could at least taste a bit of the local before we go home?”  

Charlie was genuinely taken aback, never really wanting to experiment with food, but it was Daryl’s suggestion that floored him.  Daryl never wanted to eat other than the same old’, same old’.  Indeed, this was a Daryl he’d never known previously, because Daryl had the same expression when he ate anything, just “I don’t care, but I have to eat, so I’m eating — don’t bother me.”  Yet there was something unkind to be said about those people who travel halfway around the world and never get out of the hotel dining room.  “OK Daryl, I’ll ask and ring you back.”  

“Dad, don’t stop at one place.  Ask about two or three, different kinds, then go wash up in you room and knock on mine.  We’ll decide together.”  

This wasn’t Daryl.  Emily wouldn’t have believed her ears.  A day earlier, Charlie wouldn’t have believed.  “Good idea.  Better make that half an hour.  It’s still early.  Hope you had a good lunch, mate.”  

Daryl computer-bookmarked “Maps of Africa” and “Sir Henry Morton Stanley”.  Then he took off the pillows and bedspread.  He carefully divided the photocopies into half a dozen stacks, and placed each one under a different part of the mattress, between the mattress and the box springs.  He then replaced the bedspread and pillows, but not completely, being sure to leave things mussed up, as if he’d been sleeping.  He fought off the urge for a nap half that afternoon and he’d try not to fall asleep over dinner.  [Live with it, mate.]  Nothing would betray the new Daryl, who could care less about Livingstone but had an indirect interest in Stanley.  

Charlie was in for his next Daryl shock when he knocked at the door and asked to come in, as if he were a stranger and an adult were answering.  After a few words about the day’s activities, Daryl pointedly asked, “Did you get the ZimComm security access numbers?” and insisted on putting the paper with the listed data on top of his dresser before leaving for dinner.   

The restaurant wasn’t far away, but it wasn’t within walking distance either, so they took a taxi rather than retrieve the rental from the garage and worry about finding their way around in a very foreign country.   

Dinner was a bit exotic for the both of them, consisting of highly spiced and unusually flavoured and textured meat with a minimum of vegies, all concocted in a thick one-dish meal.  At times the flavours mingled together, at times a particular item’s taste thrust itself strongly on the palate.  It wasn’t Melbourne, and neither of them could pronounce the name of what they had eaten.  To Daryl it was great stuff indeed, but Charlie was sceptical of the damage it would do to his insides, having experienced the occasional bout of diarrhoea from things not half as strange.   

To Charlie’s utter surprise, Daryl polished off every last bit of the stuff – Charlie left most of his still on the plate, so Daryl ate that too.  Charlie remarked about his appetite, but Daryl shrugged it off.  “Forgot about lunch, had a nap.”  Another lie that Charlie quickly swallowed.  

During dinner, Daryl had proffered the Victoria Falls brochure but Charlie wasn’t interested, only asking, “When do you leave?”  

“Day after tomorrow, Thursday afternoon flight.  Package deal, about $1,500 all up, six days and nights.”  

“It’s your money Daryl.  Take care.  I’d see you off but I have meetings, you know.  Tomorrow I get to scout the Zimbabwean team at a practice session.  I’m pretty flattered they let me see them, but in any event I’m not worried.  Our Aussies can crush them by teatime the first day of the Test.  Nothing very flash about the Z-team.”  

[That’s Charlie.  One-track mind, one-track man.  Doesn’t he realize there’s life without cricket?]  

Charlie was concerned about only one thing: if the trip took only six days, then he’d still have to contend with Daryl for the best part of a week afterwards.  

“Well have fun and be careful.  We’ll test out the phones tomorrow.  Is eight-thirty for brekkie OK?”  

So much for chitchat.  

It had been a meal largely without conversation, and only when the two were back in the hotel and Daryl about to enter his room did Charlie remark, “Daryl, I really think your complexion is getting better.  I told you this climate would be good for that.”  Charlie had conveniently forgotten Emily’s chiding Daryl to remember his allergy and asthma medications, fearful that Africa would have bugs that would take another European casualty.  Charlie’s mind would forever be on cricket and nothing else, so it’s understandable that Daryl was overlooked.  

Daryl said goodnight, closed and locked the door behind him and immediately went over to his laptop, dialled the Internet and accessed Maps of Africa.  He didn’t just study Zimbabwe, but the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Namibia and Zaire, all the surrounding countries.  He studied the river systems especially, mindful that the rivers generally ran south to north, an anomaly due to the higher elevations in the southern part of Africa.  He knew from his history course that travel by waterway is most common in unexplored areas, so he reckoned that Stanley (and the tribal forebears of the camel dung chief) would have used the rivers as highways.   

The trek recorded in Stanley’s writings took him to central Africa, but Zimbabwe was in the northernmost part of southern Africa, according to the CIA maps.  So Stanley’s Dark Continent was tropical, more jungles and Tarzan-like atmosphere. The CIA map showed Chirundu just at the latitude where sub-tropical zones start and tropical zones end, with elevations and topography that translated to high-plateau country, grasslands with scrub vegetation, with the exception being the area next to the Zambesi River.  The Chirundu area was drier, higher and without the deep and dark green crowded jungle that we see in the movies.   

            While he was at it, Daryl took out the brochure on Victoria Falls.  It gave a brief history.  Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River were explored in the 1860’s, so Stanley would have known of them before he ever arrived in Africa.  There was a lot of advertised white water rafting upstream, but not as far as Chirundu, just for the 58km northward of the falls (Chirundu was eight or ten times that distant).  Daryl deduced that the river would be relatively quiet at Chirundu, making it a place where boats could travel, a statement one couldn’t make about the treacherous conditions from the falls advertised in the rafting brochures.  He followed the course of the Zambezi on the map, only to discover it petered out somewhere in the general vicinity of Zaire, joining the Laolaba River, which itself led to the Congo, which ran for the remarkable distance of 3000km westward until it emptied into the Atlantic Ocean.  Stanley travelled that entire 3000km, the first white person to do so, at least the first whose name got mentioned for it. 

It seems that Through the Dark Continent traced the course of some of Stanley’s exploits – in particular, they covered his exploration of the Laolaba following circumnavigation of Lake Tanganyika.  This trip of Stanley’s occurred after the encounter with Livingstone and so would not have been likely to be discussed in How I Found Livingstone.  Given Daryl’s theory, the natural place for Chief Camel Dung to have met Stanley was in the area of the Laolaba near its juncture with the Zambezi.  Theoretically, he had copied the right book, or to be more precise, the correct two volumes, if he were to find a mention that might help him solve his mystery.   

He thought to look at the radio-alarm clock.  One a.m., time for bed.  He felt his still-smooth face and smiled as he readied himself for sleep.  He smiled a little broader as he realized it would be a second night without wheezing, itching or fretting over pimples.  The three-straight-As student lived back in Melbourne, while the new Daryl was revelling over the fact he had none of those old marks, figuratively or literally.   

That night, Daryl did something that was a lifetime first.  He set the alarm clock for 7:45a.m.  He was sleepier than he ever recalled but he would be on time for brekkie.