Thrusting, jabbing, swatting and swearing had done little thus far to dislodge the large tree branch stuck at the top of the tree. The bamboo pole we were using to poke with was perhaps 10 feet tall but in this scenario was probably two feet too short. What’s more, the base of the tree was covered in thorns making a climb up a difficult and sufficiently risky proposition.
The old lady we were assisting smiled in appreciation at our efforts. She groaned with every failed jostle and pointed with suggestions on where we might try and poke next. I wasn’t sure how long she had been poking herself at the branch but I suspect Thomas, a fellow traveller and now fellow amateur bamboo jabbing worker, was right when he said “I bet she’s been working at this all morning.” When we had decided to climb the 16km long path to visit the Livingstonia village, I did not have this in mind. Waterfalls and old churches were what we were here to see. But now, having spent the better part of the past half hour on the task, I was, in gambling terms, “pot committed”.