Thursday, November 19, 2009

The last weeks

Monday 16th November

Now back home in the UK I am again in a different world. It is surprising how easily I adapt the new environment. In a way because of the vast difference, it is easier. It is a little like waking from sleep, where you accept that the rules of the night no longer apply and it's best not to try to make too much sense of your dreams.

The fact that my laptop died more than a week ago and access to the Internet has been difficult - power and Internet problems made it tricky in Monze and there are no Internet cafés in Chisamba – has meant that I haven't been able to post any blogs recently. Now in a world of fast Internet access and reliable electricity supply, I have no excuse not to bring you up to date. I hope that my recollections of the past couple of weeks don't become too long and bore you – I will do my best to be brief – though, as you will have noted, this isn't one of my key talents!

When I last posted the blog David and Kevin where still in Zambia. On the Wednesday – their final day – we had breakfast again at Southern Comfort motel. I was a bit surprised to see Teddy also breakfasting there! He was there for a meeting, so I took the opportunity to introduce him to David. Kevin was very late joining us. It turned out that he had locked himself in his room and couldn't escape until he attracted the attention of one of the staff and handed him the key through the window!

We were subsequently a little late for our meeting at the hospital with Dr. Mvula. After some discussion we toured the hospital, concentrating on the areas where HATW had been involved. There were two people in ICU – one a man who had been involved in a traffic accident and the other a woman who had fallen into a well and was 6 months pregnant. Unfortunately she had just died.

After our tour of the hospital I said goodbye to David and Kevin as they left for Lusaka. Kevin to return on Thursday to Jersey and David to eventually travel to Chipata and then Lilongwe (Malawi) and onwards to the UK arriving home on 11th November.

In the afternoon I posted the previous blog and sent some e-mails from the Internet café before returning home to work on the project database for Monze Diocese.

In the evening, while reading some of the e-mails picked up at the café, my laptop started having problems and eventually refused to work at all. Fortunately I had time to back up this year's data and, if I have followed the process I tell everyone else to follow, I should have a copy of everything else from the past 10 – 12 years on my computer at home. I suspect a hard drive crash.

Thursday 5th November

I had arranged to see Sr Juunza and install the database updated with the data extracted from the spreadsheets. I spent a short time explaining the process and hoped that it was sufficient to re-establish the database in Human Resources. I will need to produce a user manual once back in the UK.

I apologised to Sr. Barbara and explained that time was tight anyway, but the loss of my laptop made it impossible to make any progress with her database – another little job for me from home.

The limited time left in Monze meant that I needed to make maximum use of the ATM if I was going to find sufficient kwachas to deal with all the little projects where I had an interest. So being a bit greedy I tried to extract my maximum daily allowance of 1,800,000 kwacha in one go. The machine gave up at the last minute leaving me penniless!

I had the laptop from Mrs. Chiiya and the loss of mine gave me the incentive to use it to connect to the Internet. My friend John was wanting me to set up a Skype session with him and his students in the UK. I didn't expect to achieve this and it was very soon clear that the speed of the laptop would make this impossible. However, an updated version of the anti-virus software was installed which made the exercise well worthwhile. Before I left the café the power went of and I finished the session using their limited UPS.

Reymond joined me for supper – I had a salad prepared, which with the power situation is always wise!

Friday 6th November

I had arranged to be picked up outside the Finance Bank at 8hrs. So I arrived at about 8.10. During the next hour I decided to take some pictures of the town while I waited. I also recorded a few of the activities taking place around me - such as the guys carrying goods around on their wheelbarrows, the ladies with their burdens carried on their heads and the coming and going of the local buses. I missed the bus pulling a trailer full of chickens and the guys bump-starting a truck – not unusual occurrences in this part of the world. I began to realise just how many things I was observing would be considered very strange in the UK but are everyday happenings here in Zambia.

Jennipher rang to say she was with a patient in Intensive Care and could I come and pray with her. I thought this a little unusual and was sorry I had to decline because a taxi was due to arrive with Charles and Reymond any minute.

Anderson Phiri – the barber from Sweet Sixteen – passed by and stopped for a while to chat. Anderson first cut my hair in 2004 – I pay him closer to UK than Zambian rates, though of late I have managed to avoid the need. (I think that if possible it is best not to risk getting a snick at the barbers.) The usual rate for a haircut is about 200 - 500 kwacha – 3p – 7p).

At about 9 hrs I decided to go to Barclays to get proof that they didn't give me any money yesterday.

We set off for the project site at 9.30 and I was delighted to meet Captain and Saddam. These animals were obtained several years ago – one being a present from my son Andy. However, until now, on each visit they had been off searching for food some distance from the project site.

This time however they were persuaded to accept the yoke and take me for a ride on my dad's ox cart. We also had another look at the garden which is doing fine - thanks to installation of a well a couple of years back.

On our return I spend some time talking to Charles and his mother as usual provided me with a meal.

Time was now running away. This was my last chance to say goodbye to my friends at the hospital, but I had a few jobs still to do. I popped into the priest's house to load a spreadsheet on Fr. Maambo's computer for his accounts and explained how to complete it, I updated the Human Resources database, with the modifications I had been able to make using Mrs. Chiiyas computer the previous night and secured my lift to Lusaka from Justina.

Before going to mass I popped along to the ICU and asked Patience about the patient from Pemba. The prognosis didn't sound good so I offered a few extra prayers for her at mass and felt during the mass that she was being welcomed into that other world.

After mass I popped along to the shop along the road where I was working on their stock control system. Of course, having visited the hospital, my flash-drive was now infected with viruses. The shop computer recognised this fact and moved the infected files and, it appeared, all other files on the flash-drive where I had so cleverly saved all my work this year in Monze. (including all my photos). So I was unable to complete my task at the shop.

On the way home I heard someone calling me. Judy (Dr. Mvula's secretary) was returning home from the South – she had obviously had to make a detour on her way home - and so our paths happened to cross. When I mentioned my loss of data she reminded me that this was not an unknown phenomenon and that a Ubuntu computer would often see the 'lost files' and they could be retrieved. Maybe this was just a chance meeting, but I like to think that the creator of our universe cares for us all individually and sometimes helps us out here and there! I was greatly cheered by this 'chance' meeting with Judy.

On returning home Eli called around and we shared another salad!

It was now well after dark and Edward was not sure that we should carry out our plan to go out. However, it was my only opportunity to meet with him before I left and it proved to be a pleasant evening at Nwango Gardens, where we relaxed and talked about a variety of things. Edward is much better than a couple of weeks ago but it still not back to full form. He tells me though he has now formally retired he is unlikely to receive any pension or benefits for months – if not years. There is an enormous amount of bureaucracy involved and he will need to make several visits to Lusaka and Livingstone at considerable expense, whilst receiving nothing! Unfortunately this story is repeated by most people who retire from government jobs.

Saturday 7th November

I woke and headed for the chapel for mass. I was surprised to find Jennipher in distress at the hospital. Her patient had died. I knew that we were due to meet in Pemba later, but worried that perhaps the death was someone closer than I had imagined.

I caught a bus quickly after returning from mass and met Jennipher along the main road in Pemba. Here she explained the events of the previous week. On Tuesday two older relatives of Jennipher's had arrived in Pemba from Zimbabwe. The younger lady – in her sixties – was an aunt of Jennipher's (her mother's sister) who she had not seen for over 30 years. She was the person who had died during the night. The other lady had been given a house where she could stay by the village headman. I visited with Jennipher and Soloman. The local community were looking after the lady who I was told was 86 years old. They were all shocked by the death. The older lady, the mother of the one who had just died, was not well and had stopped eating. Jennipher was fearing that she too might end up dying. I spent a while with the lady before we made our way to Jennipher's house.

Sandra and Mike had come from their respective schools to meet me, so with Selina, Soloman and Emmanuel they make up Jennipher's current family. It was good to see Sandra and Mike doing well and I expressed my sadness to Mike at the loss of his last sibling – Raquel, earlier in the year.

I looked around the garden which Soloman is managing very well with some help from the support groups. There are now banana plants as well as the vegetables – Soloman tells me that they will fruit next year. I spotted some spring onions and couldn't resist a few leaves. Soloman picked me a couple of plants to take back with me.

Also at Jennipher's were a couple of women from the support group - they complained of hunger. It is always difficult in Zambia when someone complains of hunger, because it is most likely that they really are hungry. Not that they just want money for food, but that at that precise moment they are feeling hunger - a hunger that we probably never experience. It isn't possible to feed all the hungry, but it is always a dilemma about how to deal with such an immediate need. This year I believe that Jennipher has made significant progress in finding support for her group, which we both hope will lead to supplementary food for her groups. She also expects to be provided with seed and fertiliser to allow group members to provide something for themselves next year. The garden also provides a source of extra food for her clients.

It was a visit dominated by the sudden loss of Jennipher's aunt and the likely loss of the mother. Two relatives that had made a long journey to find there relatives after such a long time. I can't help reflect on the many relatives of Jennipher's who have died in the few years that I have known Jennipher. As I left Pemba I asked Soloman how closely he was related to the ladies. He told me the lady who died during the night was his mother and the other lady his grandmother.

Soloman and Mike accompanied me to the road where I left them as I caught my bus back to Monze.

I had a quick lunch before catching up on my e-mails. I should have dropped off at the Southern Comfort Motel close to where Bridget lives because I now had a 2 km walk to retrace my journey. I was surprised to get a call from Dilys and spent 10 minutes chatting as I walked along the Livingstone Road – despite a strong wind rushing past the phone making conversion difficult at times. So my walk became a very pleasant experience. I needed to settle my bill with Bridget and pick up a few small items to bring home. She also gave me a gift or two for the family.

Teddy, Luke and Reymond came around sequentially to say a final farewell in the evening and it was late before I had my supper. I still had my house to clean and needed to start before the morning, if I was to get it done before departing on Monday morning.

Sunday 8th November

Jennipher rang at 6 hrs to tell me that the older lady had died. So there would be a double funeral within a day or two and the happy reunion of a few days previous was now replaced by a double tragedy. Some people in the UK that I meet seem to think that death in places like Zambia is not so devastating, but having been close to many here who have lost close relatives I know just how much they are affected. Bereavement is not easy to cope with anywhere and lots of deaths make it worse not better. In addition here the implications of a death are often worse. There is no welfare state, loss of parents can lead to instant poverty. Possessions are often taken by relatives and the children perhaps end up very many miles from where they have been brought up, living with distant and sometimes cruel and abusive relatives.

I reflected on the deaths as I washed the floors of the house.

I attended mass at Our Lady of the Wayside church and had the opportunity to offer some more prayers for those who had died and those left to mourn.

On my return I invited Mr Meheritona around to discuss the link between Christ College and St. Vincent's very briefly – having made contact in the previous couple of days with Terry from Christ College.

When I had finished washing the floor I was late for my next appointment! My final meeting with St. Veronica's Small Christian Community. Simon and his wife had left so I had no guide this week. I headed in the normal sort of direction – but since each meeting is at a different location I needed to come across someone who could tell me where we would meet. After failing to find guidance from another house of a Community member, I continued on my way and fortunately met Queen.

My first attempt to find the Community in 2005, lead me to Queen's son Brian who guided me on that occasion. I asked Queen about Brian and she told me he was in Lusaka but wanted to return to Monze and complete his education. Brian left in Grade 11 so has two years of secondary schooling left. As is so often the case, the parents cannot afford to pay the school fees.

Queen lead me to the meeting and, as always, I was warmly greeted. After the payer meeting I was treated to some songs and dances to wish me a safe journey back home. They also wanted to give me a present for me and my family. At the market they couldn't find a Christmas card so bought me a musical birthday card instead. Since I have a 'big one' coming up soon it seems appropriate.

Yet again I was struggling for time. I had also left at home a container that Angelina had given me the week before filled with chibantu and also my torch which I would need later in the evening. So I was able to give some custom to one of the taxi drivers outside Tooters who has been waiting for me to book him for the past few years! He took us to my house and then dropped us all at Mrs Sianga's house close to the homes of the community.

There were a few things to sort out with Mrs Sianga before I left. Most of Mrs. Sianga's concerns had been addressed over the past few weeks and she said that she was now a very happy lady. So we said farewell and I arrived back home at about 20 hrs and combined all the remaining food for my final meal this year in Monze.

It was now time to pack!!

Just before midnight I found my bed for a few hours sleep!

Monday 9th November

The hospital has had an ambulance for many years, but I have never seen it in use. So when this red vehicle arrived just after 6 hrs on Monday morning I was a little surprised. One of the accounts staff was already on board and we then picked up Justina who is now in accommodation in the Zambia compound area – the other side of the market.

We made our way to the hospital and there we found a patient who had been in a road traffic accident and needed to go to a hospital in Lusaka. The ambulance was a small slightly converted Japanese minibus. A stretcher bed was installed but was very narrow and had no straps. Our patient was carried to the ambulance on a plastic mattress and it was quickly agreed that the best thing was to remove the stretcher and lay the mattress with the patient directly onto the floor. Justina, being a trained nurse, was able to act in the role of accompanying nurse as no other nurse was available.

With the patient were a couple of relatives who shared the bench seat. I found a spot by my luggage on top of the engine and spent the next 3 hours and 200 km wriggling about trying to find a comfortable position. I had no problem keeping warm! Still I was grateful that I didn't have to make my way with taxis and public transport with all my bags. Not surprisingly we had no problem with the police check points.

We passed the Immigration offices on the way to the Italian Hospital. After an hour or more the patient was taken from the ambulance into the hospital and I was dropped back at Immigration.

I have been amazed this year that I have moved through the immigration process without any waiting. I was confident that today's process would be equally smooth. So at desk 5 the lady told me that my permit had been approved and wrote the file number on my receipt, she directed me to a register where I found my name and confirmation that my file had been received at the office. I was happy to join a queue – for the first time this year – to wait for my permit. Eventually I handed my receipt to the guy finding the files. A pile of files were found and put on the desk of the officer issuing the permits. So, in turn, the people in front of me went through the process of checking their permits, signing the register etc. When my turn came the file was for the person behind me. Not to worry I was happy to wait a little later. The guy finding files then asked who this receipt belonged to and I recognised it as mine! When I told him that I was working at Monze Mission Hospital and confirmed that it was run by Catholics, he told me I had to go to some other part of the Country where they would have my file! I explained that though it was a Catholic run hospital my application was dealt with in Lusaka by CHAZ and my file should be here. He went away and ignored me for the next half hour!

I decided that I shouldn't take my God for granted and assume that he would continue to organise immigration for me, however I had no doubt that things would eventually be sorted. I went over to the file finder and asked him what was happening with my file. He said that the officer would sort things out. Half an hour later he spoke to the officer about me still waiting and the officer moved my receipt on his desk and continued issuing permits to the others waiting. At about 13 hrs, when all the other permits had been issued, the officer picked up my receipt and had another search to confirm the file was missing. After finding that the file number on the receipt was wrong, but the file was still nowhere to be found, Mr Banda (the officer in question) arranged for the clerk at reception to issue me with an order to return to immigration within 30 days and stamped my passport with a corresponding extension to my permit to stay in Zambia. He gave me his mobile number and took mine and promised to search for my lost file.

My bags at this point were travelling around Lusaka. I contacted Jasper (the hospital driver) and told him to drop the bags at Lwisha House, since I couldn't see any point in meeting up with the ambulance again myself.

I had been in touch with Christopher from CHAZ while at immigration to confirm that he hadn't picked up my permit and he asked me to tell him the outcome. As I was meeting Diven at the CHAZ offices, I took the opportunity to see Christopher. Christopher was busy so I agreed to wait and while waiting received a call from Mr. Banda to say my file had been found – much to my relief. I spent a short while chatting to Christopher and recognised Stanford Zulu when he appeared in the office. (Stanford was the manager from CHAZ who helped with my previous application and who I didn't recognise in Monze last year.)

On my way out of the office I met Justina and Jasper who also had called around to CHAZ. So we had the opportunity of saying a proper farewell.

Diven had been waiting for a while and we set off in search of our regular café. After half an hour we gave up looking – why we couldn't find it I don't know. We eventually settled for a fast food café on the way to Diven's place but couldn't find anywhere selling nshima! We settled for chicken and chips as the next best thing.

Diven has set up a little single roomed shop to the East of the town centre. He has moved in, sleeping in the shop both the save the cost of renting somewhere else and because he believes that it is necessary for security reasons. The shop has a small range of items but either needs more variety or a fridge to sell drinks in order to prosper. Diven's dream is to develop this shop and perhaps next year move back to Monze, where eventually he would like to buy a small plot of land and build his own small house.

Time is still going very quickly in Zambia. Lwisha House is the Jesuit Centre for Theological reflection in Zambia (JCTR) and provides me with a link between the world I know back in the UK and life in Zambia. I have found this useful over the years as I prepare for my return to the UK. It is on the Great East Road that leads to the airport. I had hoped to get there by about 17hrs but it was about 17.30 by the time I reached the bus station in the centre of Lusaka. The positive side was that at this time the buses fill very quickly – so I left within a couple of minutes, the negative side is that at this time you don't go anywhere fast because Lusaka is a big traffic jam!

I was dropped at the University at about 18.10 from where I had a walk of a little under ten minutes. As I arrived at Lwisha house a few spots of rain started dropping. Within a few seconds the heavens opened and some powerful rain fell for a few minutes. I thought of Brother Joe and how when we were with him we always missed the rain – just! I smiled at the thought and felt the presence of my God.

It was good to have access to tea again and to enjoy my first shower for a couple of months!

Tuesday 10th November

I always enjoy the chapel services at Lwisha House. The Jesuits always try to adapt to the environment and the people in the congregation. So the simple mass included some singing in the local language with a little drumming and references to what was happening in the local community, wider events within Zambia and issues concerning the church in Africa.

After breakfast I headed for the nearest bus stop. On the way one of the priests passed by and offered me a lift to immigration – saving me a trip into town and then back out again.

I whiled away an hour in an Internet café until the immigration offices opened. At immigration I was surprised that there were no queues. I went up to Mr Banda who promptly produced my file and issued me with my permit. When another officer stamped my passport with 15th December 2010 I was disappointed. I had forgotten that my passport expires at the beginning of 2011 and they won't issue a work permit beyond that date. The officer pointed that out and said with a grin that I would have to apply again next year and pay again!

I took a bus to town and found an Internet café to sort out a few mails. I decided not to try to post a blog or check my bank account when I received warnings that it would be unsafe to proceed.

Next stop Chisamba cross roads. When I arrived I contacted Godfrey who advised me to wait for Justine (the new manager). After about 3 hours it seemed that Justine's bus had broken down so I took a taxi to the guest house. On arriving I took a stroll through the market hoping to find some mangoes (to no avail) and checked out the church. Having not eaten lunch, I decided not to miss supper and it was after I had eaten (at about 20 hrs) that Justine arrived.

He joined me at the bar after supper and we watched 'Just for Laughs' on the TV! The evening finished with a power cut. A violent storm earlier in the day had deposited 40cm of rain on Chisamba. In the evening the nearby storms gave a good light show, though the rain was quite light – at least in African terms.

So it was an early night.

Wednesday 11th November

I woke just after 5.30 and decided to go to mass at 6 hrs.

I am very used to being the only 'white man' as I move around in Zambia. If I think about it, it is very unusual to be in any bus, other than the big coaches, where my companions are not all people of colour. So this was the case at the church. At the end of the service the priest welcomed me and suggested that I might stay behind to meet him and other parishioners.

The Kaliyangile project was started by the Catholic parish. The priest – Fr. Timothy – became chairman of the project and the parish was very much involved. It seemed that after Fr. Timothy's departure, the new priest was less interested in the project and there was a concern that the project was being regarded as a Catholic project. The result was a separation of the project from the Catholic community.

I was invited to join the priests – Fr Dominic (parish priest) and Fr. Malitious (who celebrated the mass I had just attended) – for breakfast and was happy to accept. We talked about the project and it appeared that the Catholic community felt concern that they were no longer involved with Kaliyangile. Fr. Dominic told me he hadn't been invited to the project site and knew very little of what was going on.

It was a good opportunity to bring the priests up to date with the current position and the plans for the Centre. I promised to keep Fr. Dominic informed and to arrange for him to visit the Centre. He gave me his card so that I could keep in touch.

When I returned to the Guest House at 8.30 everyone was wondering what had happened to me. I joked that they must have been ready to break down my door and Justine told the staff he was about to contact the police – he then quickly told them he was only joking!

At the site we took another tour of the project with Davidson and I demonstrated my accounts system before Godfrey arrived. I had brought some cash with me to cover the removal costs for Justine. However, I had under-estimated the costs. It is easy to expect everything here to be a small fraction of costs in the UK and I often fall into that trap. Fuel here is a little lower than in the UK – about 70p -75p a litre. So transport costs – though lower – are still considerable. Justine lives perhaps 200 km from Chisamba and needs to find someone to transport all his furniture etc. If he was going in the opposite direction it would be easier because lorries would be travelling light to the Copperbelt. However, in the other direction they would be full of goods and therefore removing Justine means a special trip. The cheapest quote was over 2 million kwacha or £250.

So to avoid delaying his move, a trip to the ATM was required. Apparently there was a Zanaco ATM for Chisamba. So we set off to the main road. (21km away) This year I have had problems with Zenaco ATMs and wasn't too confident. As suspected the transaction could not be completed and the branch staff couldn't explain why. Rather than wait for staff at the head office to deal with the issue we decided to head for Lusaka, where I succeeded in getting the money from a Standard Chartered Bank. On the way back Godfrey picked up a bag of cement for some work he was doing and some meat pies for our lunch. It was 16.30 when we arrived back in Chisamba.

It is difficult for people in the UK to understand how the simplest task can take best part of a day in Zambia. In order to get some cash we had to do a round trip of about 140 km taking 3 – 4 hours and reducing the working day very considerably. I often loose several hours in Zambia due to loss of power, Internet or other services failing, people not being available etc. It isn't unusual to 'waste' complete days or longer. It can be frustrating but since there is little that can be done, it is best to accept it and relax!

We spent an hour or so checking on a few issues that needed to be discussed and as we left the project site we were treated to only the second rainbow I have ever seen in Zambia. (The sun is usually too high for rainbows – though at Victoria falls the spray can produce a complete circle of coloured light as you look directly downwards.)

Thursday 12th November

Today marks my last working day in Zambia this year.

There was a lot to do to make a few modifications to the accounts system and to access the needs of the centre in the short and longer terms. The Guest House provided a good breakfast that included sausages and eggs and the usual lunch and supper menu - beef or chicken and nshima! In the evening Justine went for an early night while I once again met with Sondash and watched Nigeria beat Spain in the under 17s World Cup Semi-final. As usual I was supporting Africa – even more so as my son in law Demi is from Nigeria.

Friday 13th November

I woke early and went to 6 am mass, after which I received a replacement business card from Fr. Dominic

When I returned to the guest house at about 6.50 am, Justine had already left for the Copperbelt. So I settled to a leisurely breakfast and waited for someone to arrive with the final bill and a receipt.

This year if there has been a consistent message it is that I should relax and enjoy the moment. Even now with nothing to hurry me I found it difficult to enjoy the warm sunshine, watch the lizards and birds and relish my last hours in Africa.

At 8hrs I went to the main road and caught a waiting taxi. On the way to the crossroads a troop of vervet monkeys ran across the road in front of the car. As I was dropped at the crossroads a bus pulled off the main road and since it was heading for Lusaka I jumped in and headed for the city centre without delay.

I decided to check e-mails at the Internet café. Fortunately I had my booking details so I also tried to check into my flight. After an hour or more I managed to check in my bags and select a window seat that wasn't over the wing. This was quite a relief because I was still a little unconvinced that I would be allowed two large bags and that they wouldn't charge me to change my seat.

I thought that the Zain offices would require a large detour but found a very helpful lady in the office in Cairo Road who explained all the details of the USB modem. I am very keen to keep in touch with the Kaliyangile project in Chisamba and e-mail is the best way. The information I have now received suggests that a USB modem (or dongle) is the best solution.

I went to the bus station and realised that I hadn't yet found my mangoes. I decided it was too much bother to go to the market, then noticed someone in front of me selling ripe mangoes – so I asked the seller to choose 4 good ripe ones for me and readily purchased them at 1,000 kwacha each!

Work completed – apart from a text message or two – I returned to UNZA and Lwisha House. Any thought of using the Internet for my blog was dashed when they told me their computer had stopped functioning and anyway Internet access was blocked because a computer at the centre seemed to have been infected by a virus that was disseminating spam. I was even more pleased that I had checked into my flight at the Internet café.

My next little task was to organise a taxi for the morning. I had been directed to the JCTR office and was putting the taxi driver's number into my phone, when he arrived at the door so we could make the arrangements directly.

Saturday 14th November

I was up at about 5 am and at 6hrs the taxi had arrived.

It is a lovely time of day in Zambia. Other than on about two days this year, the day has always started here with clear blue skies and gentle sunshine. (By 7hrs the sun is warm and by 8hrs it is high in the sky and hot!) Saturday night was warm (dropping no lower than low 20s), together with the excitement of returning home and the head-banging music from the university campus, I had difficulty sleeping.

After a pleasant drive to the airport before 7 hrs I was settled in the departure lounge. I was surprised to see a couple of decent sized jets on the airport tarmac – despite the fact that the BA plane had not yet arrived.

Our flight left about ½ hour late despite the plane leaving Heathrow an hour and a half behind schedule.

I enjoyed the flight and also caught up a little on my sleep. Once again I was amazed by the beauty of the desert that we crossed over a period of well over two hours. A huge area that is covered by almost continuous and very strong sunshine. The previous evening I had read an article in the National Geographic magazine that confirmed that there is more than enough solar energy to power the world, that even with today's technology we could resolve the climate change issue and the costs are less than we have used to bail out the banks. Yet in 10 years time I suspect we will have signed the death warrant for humankind – what a foolish people we are!

At Lusaka airport I bought a few bottles, having been assured that they would put them in a proper clear sealed bag. After paying the seller produced a black carrier bag and proceeded to put a few staples in it. I suggested this wasn't sufficient to satisfy the British authorities – though what terrorist act they thought they would be preventing at Heathrow airport is beyond me!! Anyway I didn't see anyone at customs at Heathrow and was therefore able to present my gifts to Dilys when she met me at the airport. Before meeting Dilys, Jennipher rang me to ask if I would get in touch on Sunday morning, reminding me that though home, I would continue to share my life with my friends back in Zambia.

My Zambian adventure is over for a little while, but before I close the blog I will try to reflect a little on what was a very satisfying visit this year and share a few more photos. Watch this space!

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