Sunday, April 25, 2010

Back in Chisamba

Friday 23rd April

It feels like I have been here in Chisamba for a long time – yet I only arrived yesterday evening. In many ways it is very good to be back. Life is more relaxed for me here. I have one project and not the numerous links I have in Monze. I am little way from the town centre and I am surrounded by fields. There are 300 chickens next door and the cicadas fill the night air with their calls and a few owls join in. During the day there is a rich variety of birds visiting and flying over the site. It is very peaceful.

I seem to have overwritten my last blog on the computer with the latest about the volcanic ash, so I am not sure where I left you! So I will assume that you already know about Tuesday – I'm not sure I can remember what happened then anyway.

Wednesday was my last day in Monze so I was rushing even more than usual. I was hoping for hospital transport so I paid it a visit, having discovered that Sr. Juunza was in Livingstone and couldn't organise it. Unfortunately there was nothing going on Thursday – so it would have to be the coach. I was expecting visitors throughout the day and had a number of tasks to achieve. In the end I managed to see Mrs. Sianga, collect her reports, leave her the copy of “The Shack” I left with Judy last year and take a picture of one of the students about to be sponsored through the HATW sponsorship scheme. Sr. Barbara caught me and told me I needed to see a guy called Cashias to talk about the database. So I squeezed in this extra appointment. Jennipher joined me at lunch. I was expecting a fax about solar lighting because she is being pressured to have power installed and can't afford Zesco electricity. Unfortunately the fax hadn't arrived. I went to pick up the photos with Jennipher in tow – since some are for her. Unfortunately they were not there – despite stressing that I needed them on Wednesday since I was off on Thursday morning. I don't think anyone has yet gone to Lusaka to have them printed. I decided to ask Jennipher to collect them sometime and pass those that don't relate to her to Fr. Maambo. I paid the guy – which was probably foolish!

Next stop Irene to collect my 2010 shirt and Dilys's blouse. Although I was already running late, so was Irene and I agreed to return at 18 hrs.

Teddy came around when I got back for a long overdue chat. He was quickly followed by Luke and, while we were sorting out a few things on the computer, Reymond arrived at his appointed time. By the time the three of us got to Irene it was 18.45. She was still outside Pick-a-Lot and had nearly finished the articles! We waited and, as usual, she had done a remarkable job. One more trip to the bank was needed before I left Monze. So by the time I arrived home – where I had left my now one and only phone – I was almost an hour late for my final appointment with Diven. We went to Tooters for a meal and couple of drinks. I was more or less packed and just did a last minute tidy and pack before bed.

On Thursday I woke before 6 hrs and went to mass. Fr. Maambo thought that I had gone on Wednesday, but seeing me asked if I wanted to take a few pictures off his computer. I always seem to have a flash drive with me, so I copied pictures of last year's parties and food distribution.

At 7.30 I rang the coach company using the number Judy had given me and tried to book a coach. I was told it was possible but wasn't sure that I succeeded in booking it! Back home after a quick breakfast I picked up half of the fax about solar. (Unfortunately I think the information I wanted was on the other half!) At 8.30 I set off for the coach – courtesy of a driver from Monze Diocese.

The 9.30 coach set off not long after 10 hrs and made good progress to Lusaka. We would have been at the coach station before 12.30 if we hadn't stopped to fill up! (These large coaches have big tanks!).

Justina met me at the coach station and negotiated for a taxi – apparently the price doubled when they saw me. Justin has recently retired. She has become concerned about the increasing number of abortions here in Zambia and wants to try to do something to tackle the problem. For many years Dilys and myself were involved in an organisation in the UK called LIFE that supports women throughout their pregnancy and beyond. Increasingly much of their work is now in post abortion counselling. I have put her in touch with this organisation and spent a while discussing her plans and my experience.

I left Justina with two suitcases and caught a bus to the next bus terminus – for the Chisamba bus. Usually I catch a small bus from a different bus station and was surprised when I was asked for twice the usual fare. I thought he too decided he could up the price when he saw me. He explained that the 'Rosa' buses charged the same price for anywhere on the way to Kabwe. (I am probably going less than half the distance.) Anyway – even with only one bag, plus backpack, plus laptop – I wasn't walking to the other station. The bus was almost full, so within 45 minutes or so we would be ready to set off. I sent a text to Dilys to see how she was and found out that she had been taken out to lunch. This led to a series of texts to Mary. I thanked her and described the scene at the bus station where I was being offered everything from cold drinks to watches and wigs. She found out that Zambia isn't quite so cut off and responded!

A short wait of 30 – 45 minutes at the crossroads for Justine and I was on my way back to the project and my other Zambian home here in Chisamba. It was probably a little after 7 pm when I found my rooms.

Today I pottered around sorting out a few things, catching up with my incoming mail and preparing a little for tomorrow's meeting with the management committee. The students are currently having a short break from lessons – though some were busy bringing in the harvest, much of which will be used to provide their lunchtime meal. I think I have enough provisions for the next few days.

It now seems that it is perfectly safe to fly through volcanic ash and really the recent saga has been quite unnecessary – so the chances of getting home on time are improving.

Saturday 24th April

We met with the Kaliyangile management committee this morning. Things are looking positive here and I am looking forward to the development of an excellent project.

I went for a short stroll this afternoon, but I haven't yet found any pathways into the bush. The grass is so thick and high that it would be difficult and foolish to try to make a pathway through it. I can see how animals can stalk their prey in this environment – if they can find it. Though I don't expect a lion to appear at any time – but it would be an interesting tale to tell. The site takes some beating for birds and general peace and quiet. One day I will borrow a bike and see where I can get to – the forest sounds good to me. In the meantime I will probably enjoy relaxing on the site.

I found a chicken escaping from the barn this morning and managed to persuade him to return (sorry 'her to return' - I don't think males are very good layers!). Yesterday it was a couple of young cows who were wandering in the garden. I wasn't exactly sure where they should be, so I recruited help and Davison guided them home. I have a good quantity of small (20 cm) lizards that scamper around my 'front door'. The larger variety – perhaps 1 – 2 metres I haven't yet stumbled across - though one is meant to be around.

The early mornings and evenings as the sun sets are magical times here. The light is wonderful and has a characteristic that I doubt you can find outside of Africa. The cool air adds to the glory of these times.

I am reminded of camping holidays because of the walk across the field to the toilet block. The stars are wonderful in the early morning and at the moment the moon is out of sight at this time, making many thousands more visible.

I think the European Swallows have left now, but there are still many other varieties around – the most common seems to be the Mosque Swallow which is bigger, but equally handsome. I am still having difficulty with the identification of many of the birds around here.

Sunday 25th April

Mass starts here at 8 hrs. Today we had a couple of young men with electric guitars and another with a smart small steel drum set to accompan the choir. By 10 30am I was free to enjoy the day. Uncharacteristically today has been cloudy throughout and I suspect that temperatures have barely reached 20 C. I finished my final novel today, unfortunately power was off all afternoon so I had only a short time on the computer.

Andy ran in the London Marathon today. By the end he was feeling rough but was determined to finish. He crossed the line after 4hrs.48 minutes and 3 seconds. Not his fastest marathon but he completed the course. If you would still like to support Andy's efforts and the work of Hands Around the World you can still log on to and give a donation.

Best wishes


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