House boat on Kariba, a perfect title for a movie that can have tons of sequels. The principle is simple: bring a bunch of people on a boat, and let them float and mature for a few days, on a lake full of wild and dangerous animals. And add, as an option, some alcoholic beverages, swords and knives, a fishing rod or two, non-floating children, sun-cream, and kilos of biltongs.
Depending on the proportions things can go horribly wrong, or beautifully right. For example: throw a non floating child in a crocodile infested lake when the adults are looking for another alcoholic beverage – that can go wrong- , but then add a fisherman and the child is caught and all is merry and good again. Yey.
There is a story of a houseboat were things went out of hand. A group of friends, happy and jolly good fellows, went for a fishing trip on such a boat, nobody really knows what happened, probably some old frustrations and feud got back on them (most certainly about a girl or a guy on board who had a previous fling with one or more of the partners of the others and drunk eyed them inappropriately, or maybe about the exact size of the bream caught, or divergences on how to resolve Fermat’s problem, or something similar). All we know is that the boat now floats empty, and the people were never to be found. It’s a classic story, the ghost ship etc. but it could be true on lake Kariba. In a place where there is even a paddle steamer, anything can happen.
There are stories of families thorn apart, and friendship destroyed after such a trip, often because one puts too much sugar in his tea and stole some from someone else’s stash (or gin, or biltongs), but also, sometimes, because some people are just always unhappy and there is nothing one can do about it, just not make the mistake of inviting them in the first place. There are stories of alcoholic overload that led to miscalculation of the size of crocodile and the “catch a croc” game turns into a “rock the catch” technique, led by the croc. There are stories of people falling in love, getting married, being chased by hippos, tattooing themselves with beer caps, fishing a 200 pound tiger fish who got eaten whilst being pulled (Hemingway heard it too, back in the days), girls who dive in centimetres of water pool and guys who cannot get their jumps right… there are above all, many stories that cannot be told, mostly because the protagonists all forgot about them the very next day.
Well our Kariba trip was in that regard a bit un-eventful. We were 6 adults and 8 kids boarding the boat, and all of us made it to the end. No epic feud, no murder plots, no weird accidents … and yet we tried so hard, we planned the trip as we were 18, we let the kids and baby drive the boat, we drank from sunrise to sunrise (not everybody, some people missed most of the dinners), we fished in the hottest spots, tried to catch crocs, let the kids swim the lake, empty the bar, bla bla.