Saturday 20th July
It is good to back in Monze! Not that Chisamba is unpleasant, but here I have my own space and it is where I have made my home over the past ten years. I also have hot showers! In Chisamba there is neither hot water, or a shower!
Yesterday I spent the morning talking to the staff I missed on Thursday. I have found it useful to get to know all the people involved in making a project work. I try to make sure that everyone has a reasonable idea of how Hands Around the World fits in and I like to listen to their concerns and ideas.
Just before 13 hrs I headed for the taxi rank. I couldn't find anyone in the morning to take payment for my stay at the guest house, so I left money with Persis to settle the bill.
It appeared that there was a passenger too many for the taxi, however one guy was just saying goodbye to his friend. So once again there was no wait. This time I didn't notice any zebras or Marabou Storks but a large solitary monkey sauntered across the road in front of our car. I was a bit concerned that he wouldn't be quick enough, but fortunately he had the situation under control.
It was then straight onto a bus and away to Lusaka. Just before we reached town the bus pulled over and we had to transfer to another bus for the remainder of the journey – not an infrequent occurrence in my experience here in Zambia!
I met up with Best outside the CHAZ offices and we had a drink at the cafe just inside the gates. He has returned to his university course, but the driver of his taxi has had his licence suspended following the incident were he hit a child that ran out in front of his car. The child subsequently died. Best is currently using another driver. As you can imagine the incident has been very traumatic for all concerned.
Best told me that he is president of the Lawyers Association. One of the things they are looking into is the treatment of prisoners. He has visited a number of prisons to observe the conditions and hopes that they will be able to influence the authorities to improve them. He says that the current government is sympathetic to their concerns.
I headed to Downtown where there are Rosa buses heading for Monze. On the way I picked up a roasted cob of corn. While I waited for the final roasting a guy at the stall told me that God was coming – it said so in the bible. We exchanged a little good natured banter and I took my lunch towards the bus. I was directed to a vehicle and I hoped that the guy understood my strange accent. For some reason many don't recognise Monze when I say it, though when I hear local people say it they seem to pronounce it the same! To be sure I asked the guy who sat next to me where he was heading – since he was also going to Monze I was reassured!
While we waited to fill up (about 1 – 1½ hrs) I was able to finish another thriller! Before setting off the conductor lead the passengers in prayer – this time the prayers were not in English. So having asked for God's protection we set off. Here religion is very much part of everyday life unlike in the UK were it seems to be pushed more and more to the sidelines.
In Zambia – at least on the roads I have travelled - there are many police check points. I don't profess to understand the workings of such things, however vehicles are stopped and I assume that obvious defects are looked for, and, from what I gather, a check is made that a vehicle is not overloaded. It is interesting to notice that some vehicles turn off the road just before a checkpoint, passengers dismount and often walk past the checkpoint etc. Yesterday one of the guys at the front of the bus seemed to find it necessary to climb over the top of the seats only to completely vanish, then reappear a little later – strangely this magic display seemed also to coincide with the check points, but I am sure that there was no connection!
It was clear that there were no roadworks around Chilanga! However there were plenty a little further down the road and a considerable diversion near Kafue Quarry. Like last week, we should have been held up considerably, however our driver ignored the queues by driving up the inside whether there was a road or not! He then barged his way back into the stream of traffic – though not surprisingly the other road users were less than keen to go along with these tactics. I must confess that this sort of behaviour is one that most irritates me in the UK and I am not in the habit of being very obliging myself!
I arrived in Monze at about 8 pm – about 3½ hours after leaving Lusaka and 7 hours after leaving Chisamba. It was time to relax by starting another thriller, having a bite to eat, a hot shower and then creeping underneath the mosi net for a good night's sleep.
Today I decided to have time to myself. First I rigged up a clothes line and did some washing. Being mid July and the date divisible by 4 it has to be a significant birthday. This year I haven't managed to produce cards for the three children that form part of the birthday season, so I decided I should at least wish Asia a Happy Birthday by phone. She spoke briefly and passed me to Cheyenne who was visiting. Asia is one of the 3 cousins who were born in close proximity. I was in Zambia when she and Charlie were born (4 days apart) 7 years ago. I might try a Skype session with Charlie on Wednesday – if the internet is accessible again!
This afternoon I walked to the small reservoir and sat for an hour or two enjoying the sun and the birds. Some birds are easy to identify. The African Jacanda is a good example. Just a brief glimpse from the corner of your eye tells you what it is. Maybe its a flash of white neck, the distinctive flight, outstretched legs or something else but there is little doubt. Other birds are not so simple. There is a wonderful book published by the Zambian Ornithological Society called Common Birds of Zambia. I had to acquire my own copy via the internet, having failed to get one in Lusaka! However, it is a great aid. I also have a book “Birds of Southen Africa” which has most of the birds of Zambia but also a lot of others not seen there. The Zambian book allows me to discard most birds, since it contains a list of all those recorded in the country. Between the two books I stand a good chance of positive identification. Today I spotted a number of black birds about the size of a blackbird with longer tails. I had previously assumed that these were all Forked Tailed Drongos, but with hints from my bird book I realised that some didn't have forked tails and in fact there were two species – the other being the Southern Black Flycatcher.
I realise that birdwatching does not fascinate everyone, but for me it helps me to recognise and appreciate more of God's world. It also allows me to spend time using relatively little mental activity. I have heard that we are at our most creative when we are doing some undemanding background activity, but the mind is not being stretched. I think that too often these days are minds are kept too busy. Weren't many of the great breakthroughs in science made during periods of relative inactivity! I am thinking for instance of Archimedes in his bath and Newton sitting under the tree – proof if ever you needed it! Very often after a long walk I myself thinking more clearly about the most significant issues.
On the way back from the Dam a Lilac Breasted Roller was radiant in the evening sunshine as it took up its favourite perch outside PIZZ school. This is a very colourful specimen – with dazzling metallic blues on the wing and tail, turquoise crown, crimson striped neck and lilac breast – quite a looker!
Raymond arrived around supper time. My sandal strap broke on the way back from the dam so he offered to find someone who would fix it for 50 ngwee (about 6p). I thought the least I could do was prepare him a meal for his return. Sure enough he completed his task – at the stated price. (Coins have been reintroduced in Zambia after a long absence. However this causes further confusion since 100,000 old kwacha is now 100 new kwacha but 500 kwacha is now 50 ngwee!) Raymond was looking at my bird book and was surprised when I told him that very few of the birds seen in Zambia are also present in the UK.
The blogs are mounting again. The connection dropped on Thursday evening and, as yet, I haven't managed to regain access. Today my camera also failed to work. I am hoping it is just the batteries, although replacements that I thought had been charged also failed!! No doubt all will be well before too long.
Once again it is long past my bedtime.