Monday, October 5, 2009

And he provided a light for the night … he saw it and it was good.

Friday 2nd October

It is easy here to see why we sometimes have a full moon. This evening the sun was sinking in the west as the moon was rising directly opposite it in the east and I stood in the middle. I like to think that I cast a small shadow on that heavenly body.

Yesterday was another easy day for me. In fact Chisamba has given me a bit of a break and one that I needed. I strolled along to the project site at about 9 hrs met Davidson and settled into the office. I was expecting to meet with Godfrey the committee chairman in the morning but he had business to attend to, so I used the time to formalise my thoughts and develop the accounting database - making it more specific to Chisamba. (it currently tries to cater for Rickshaw drivers in India as well as egg production here in Chisamba.)

I had useful discussions with Godfrey and later Patrick in the afternoon and feel that at least we are talking the same language (though my Nyanga is even worse than my Chitonga – and that's still almost non-existent).

I had plenty to sort out on the computer in the evening so I didn't pop over to the bar for a Mosi. On Wednesday evening when I went into the bar it was quite full and a bit daunting. A guy I had met on the previous evening is apparently the Chairman of the ruling MMD party and another guy was chairman of the opposition. There was a guy who was apparently very senior in Zesco which provides the power (or doesn't) and a couple of other important guys – and a policeman. I had intended to have a quick drink but was given a couple of extra Mosi's by the others in the bar and had to stop more coming. This evening I am on soft drinks!

Breakfast here is eggs and chips and a large pot of very weak tea which comes out complete with milk. Outside the guest house is a pump and there is a constant stream of people – mainly women and children filling their plastic containers. Before heading off to the site I enjoy sitting in the shelter outside – a typical round brick base with a roof thatched with elephant grass – watching the swallows swoop around and the activity around the pump. This morning I took a couple of photos of the guest house and of some of the children who wanted me to 'copy them' with my camera.

Patrick arrived at 9 hrs as agreed to take me to Lusaka. Lusaka is probably 80 km from here. There is a fairly straight road west and then you join the Great North Road at the junction. The Great North Road runs from Dar El Salaam in Tanzania to Cape Town in South Africa. All I needed to do in Lusaka was to go to the immigration office to get a form to apply for an extension of my visa, complete it and hand it over to Chris from CHAZ. Patrick dropped me off at Immigration and, after signing in, I asked the man on reception where I could get a form – to my amazement he pulled one from under the counter and I left content! I decided to walk the mile or two to the CHAZ office and was joined by Dorchester and Lanster and discussed various topics as we jointly made our way into town. My visit to CHAZ went just as smoothly as at Immigration – if not quite as quickly. Anyway before 12 hrs I was outside the office. In recent years they have erected a small cafe inside the CHAZ grounds. I was amazed at the menu that offered all manner of delights from India and other countries as well as traditional local fare. I was tempted by the crocodile fillets but unfortunately they were not available today – so I contented myself with some guava juice.

I attempted several times to contact Diven but his phone has been off for the last few days – or so it seems. So I decided to find a bus for the trip back to Chisamba. There are several large bus stations in Lusaka and eventually I found one with a bus to Chisamba. People here are always very helpful and constantly guide me in the right direction. I asked a young woman on the bus to confirm that it went to Chisamba and prepared for the long wait. The girl was obviously interested in my paper so we shared it until the bus set off. She told me that she was a student studying molecular biology and genetics. She is also an identical twin and could set me straight on the fact that the fingerprints of identical twins are different as is their DNA, but obviously there are lots of similarities.

I was dropped off at the T-junction where there is also a police road block. These are very common in Zambia and you don't have to go far before coming across one. I hadn't paid much attention to the distances and since it was only 15.45 wondered whether I was close enough to walk back home. I picked up a bottle of water from a little roadside store and decided not to wait for transport but start walking. Almost immediately I came upon a sign that I remembered seeing before. It said Chisamba 20 km! I almost turned straight around and went back to the junction a couple of hundred metres behind me. However I then thought that if I started walking I was bound to be able to get a lift later on from a passing taxi or other motorist. When I was a bit younger I could walk at 6 mph (9 – 10 kph). I thought I could probably still maintain 5 mph – this converts to 8 kph. At this rate I should make Chisamba in 2½ hours i.e. by 18.15. so I decided to see how it went – the thought of a close encounter with the monkeys probably tipped the balance.

Well I didn't see the monkeys but enjoyed the wealth of birdlife - a couple of falcons sat on poles or power cables on my journey as did hornbills and rollers, egrets flew in the fields and flocks of crowned lapwings took off noisily as I passed. Numerous other birds that I couldn't identify sang and flew past as I made my way to the east – the afternoon sun getting lower in the sky. The sun set at about 18 hrs as it does almost throughout the year here (sunset is never before 17.30 or after 18.30). Having seen the moon yesterday I knew that it wouldn't be dark here for many hours. Which as it happened was just as well! There were times when I even wondered whether I had somehow gone on the wrong road. However, I enjoyed the stillness of the moonlit night. I was on a major tarmacked road and the Lord had provided the moon to brighten my night, so I managed to relax and enjoy the experience. More so when a passing man – the only one I remember on foot for the bulk of my journey - assured me that I was very close – and it only took 40 minutes from there. By the time I reached Chisamba Guest Houseat at 19.20 the bats were well out and I was ready to collapse with a cool drink. However dinner was ready as soon as I ordered it and water was my cool drink. A cold bath afterwards was very refreshing though the water is very angry tonight! It hisses, gurgles, roars and bursts forth with great force or is replaced by gusts of air. There are no plugs here and you probably would really want to get immersed in these baths! So a container of cold water poured over the head seems the best option. This reminds me of baths in the Philippines. There we were asked whether we knew how to take a bath – we said yes and then found that the bathroom contained no bath but a large tub of cold water and a ladle. The technique was to throw water over yourself using the ladle. Very refreshing!

By the way I do get hot water back in Monze but you don't really want anything above lukewarm here at the moment and cold water(probably 25 C) is often preferable.

Unfortunately the bar closed early tonight – Friday! So I missed out on the soft drinks and water that I wanted. I have filled a bottle from the pump outside and hope I won't regret it later!!

Good night


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