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Synopsis

‘We could always go overland now that we have wheels,’ Ross had suggested out of the blue. I’d pulled out an atlas and we’d traced a route down through Africa via countries still marked with their colonial names. Only two strips of water interrupted the flow of land between Edinburgh and Chingola; the English Channel and the Straits of Gibraltar. Fourteen months had passed since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon so Africa couldn’t be that difficult, could it? A month later we boarded the ferry for Calais... In 1970 newly-weds Ross and Sara set off, with extraordinary naivety and a lack of proper preparation, to drive from Edinburgh to Zambia in a standard saloon car. Appointment in Zambia is the story of their epic car journey. Sara was 21 (and could not drive) and Ross was 23 when they and their brand new Hillman Hunter (in ‘Golden Sand’, a colour chosen before they’d opted to drive through the Sahara...) started out. For eight weeks, in a trip of over 20 000 kms, they slept in the car, coped with illness and looked up the barrel of rifles from the wrong end. Apart from the car their only technology was a compass. Their journey encompassed the Sahara, where they had to dig themselves out of trouble with Tupperware containers. They also braved war-torn Biafra, navigated storm-wrecked roads through equatorial forests and traversed the main tributary of the Congo River (on a raft cobbled together with dug-out canoes by locals). They met lepers, pygmies, drunken officials, prostitutes and missionaries while their journey took them across 13 countries with widely different frontiers, customs, currencies and language before they reached Chingola – just in time for Ross to start his new job. Appointment in Zambia is a unique take on an epic journey – a young couple and their basic car travel acrosss Africa, not because they want to challenge themselves and prove something, but because they decide it’s the best way to get to a new job in Zambia.

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