Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Coming to the end of my trip

Tuesday 27th April

This will probably be my last blog posting before returning home. The information I am currently getting suggests that British Airways should be flying to Heathrow on Thursday. This will allow me to follow my schedule and travel to Ripon on Friday for grandchildren duties!

Yesterday I discussed a few outstanding issues with Justine – the Centre Manager. Minor modifications were needed to the database, but most things are in hand.

The weather continues to be cloudy and cool – almost no sun yesterday! Even in June/July – the coldest months – the sun shines bringing the daytime temperatures up and cooking you if you go out! The sky is a bit lighter this morning, so I am hoping for a change later in the day.

Being here for less than a week, and without a fridge, my menu has been a bit limited this time. Protein is mainly provided by dried kapenta, (small fish about 2 cm in length). I eat about 100 at a sitting and feel guilty about the number of lives required to provide my meal. With this size of fish you eat it all - including head and tail! A few groundnuts are added to most meals. With onion, tomato and cabbage (this in varying proportions), a few different herbs & spices (pepper, chillies, garlic, curry powder and paprika) together with rice, this has been my main meal for the past week. Honey sandwiches and bananas have completed my diet. In fact I have quite enjoyed these meals.

This time on my couple of visits to town I have taken the short cut across the football field – it was too wet to attempt that on my first visit. A narrow path takes me through grass about 3 metres tall which I brush past as I go. Flowers here and there brighten the landscape together with a variety of trees.

We are re-convening Saturday's meeting this morning – hoping for a larger attendance. I am gradually thinking about packing and preparing for the change of environment once more. Returning to the UK is as much as a culture shock as coming here and needs some adjustment. I will stay at Luwisha House – a Jesuit Centre in Lusaka tomorrow night. I have found I can reflect a little there and the priests also have experience of the two different worlds, so can help me bridge the gap. Before that I will pick up my bags from Justina and pass on this laptop.

The meeting was in fact well attended and this afternoon I spent sorting out a few final things with the accounting system and writing a note or two.

There was mass this evening at 17 hrs and it was an appropriate way to mark the end of my work here in Zambia.

On the way I met Patrick and we spoke a little about the fact that I tend to stand out here – particularly at mass. He made a comment about me not to bother about people looking at me. In fact I am generally treated very well hear in Zambia. A few will make comments to friends in their local language, but these are a small minority. I am very happy to engage with the local people and just after leaving Patrick a lady tried to sell me a large cabbage (at least 3-4 kg). I said there was no way I could eat it tonight on my own – it would probably last me a month. There followed a bit of friendly banter with other marketeers trying to sell me tomatoes and other vegetables. It is all good fun and we laugh and smile all the time. I suppose that some might be intimidated, but I am so used to the process that it is yet another opportunity to make friends. After encounters such as this I find I am warmly greeted and a stroll through town becomes more interesting and great fun.

There were about 70 or 80 people attending tonight's service – most no older than 20s & 30s and many still children or teenagers. Something we see too little of in England.

I was greeted by a few parishioners after mass and eventually Fr. Mauritius appeared. He was about to go for a jog and I mentioned Andy's marathon – he sends his greetings Andy from one runner to another!

It has been a short trip here in Zambia this year, but one that I believe has been important and worthwhile. I am now ready to return to the UK – my other home.

With my love and prayers


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