Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Railway and the Moon

Sunday 18th May

I am back in Monze and I realise that time is running away. I was thinking that I have 3 weeks left but realise that effectively my last 'working' day in Monze will be Tuesday 4th June. I need to make another visit to Mazabuka – probably on the Wednesday and the Thursday will be a day to say goodbye! Hence not much more than two weeks to cover what is still outstanding.

The project in Chisamba was established to support the local community, so I was keen to have a meeting with as many community leaders as possible to see whether we could provide more to support them with their work. A meeting was arranged for Wednesday to listen to the leaders and collect their ideas and observations. I subsequently met with the vocational centres committte to review the suggestions put forward and agree a response. I am hopeful that this will result in a wider base for managing the project and I hope that the community will feel more that they are co-owners of the Centre.

I was quite comfortable at my new home, though the kettle had a mind of it's own – in the end I still managed to get a sufficient caffeine input. Each evening except for Friday I walked to the guest house for my supper.

It was good to witness the mounting of the first five bee-hives at Kaliyangile – hopefully they soon will be populated. I also saw that the tree I planted last year is growing well.

The railway is a very significant item this year. The Guest House and Kaliyangile are on different sides of the railway and here in Monze I am on the far side of the railway from town. So every day I cross the railway – often walking on or alongside the lines. One evening the passenger train arrived while I was about to cross – I crossed anyway, since when 100 metres away the train takes 2 -3 minutes to cover the distance! In fact the train stopped at Chisamba – I haven't seen a station! I thought that all the people were from a funeral which had just taken place, but more people from the town arrived as the train approached. I was a bit concerned with so many people alongside the line (there is a single line with shunting areas for trains to pass!) as it didn't hoot the horn. Of course many around the train had food to sell to the passengers. I was told there were 3 passenger trains that passed along this line each week. On the other hand there were several goods trains passing each day – these are very long – probably at least 200 - 300 metres long.

The moon was also of great significance while in Chisamba. It was almost full when I arrived and took over from the greater light of the day to allow me to see clearly on my evening trips to the guest house. However each day it rose a little later, until on the Friday it was still asleep at 20 hrs.

On Friday Persis invited me for a meal which her friend had prepared for us – kapenta and rape with nshima (or I should say nshima with kapenta and rape – since nshima is always the most important ingredient.).They were watching some Mexican soaps!

I left Chisamba yesterday (Saturday) at about 13 hrs. It looked like I would wait for a while for the taxi to set off - Persis's mother was also on her way to the 'turn-off'. However, Moses saw friends heading in the right direction and asked if they would take us – which they did.

There is rarely a delay at the crossroads since all the buses are heading for Lusaka and pleased to pick up passengers.

Over the past few days I have met a couple of guys with big ambitions. The first joined me on the bus from Lusaka to Chisamba. He is apparently going to be President of Zambia in 2020 and has many talents from God, which make him good at everything he tries. The other has given me some information about an invention he is working on which will utilise magnetic fields to fly huge planes around the world. It struck me that many of us want to make make a major impact on the world – for instance I certainly wish I could help stop humanity from the disaster looming as a result of climate change. Most of us however have a more humble view of our capabilities and the chances of achieving these changes than to two men I met.

It was after 20 hrs when I reached Monze last night. As usual travelling in Zambia is interesting for me. No other 'white' passengers joined me at any part of my journey – in fact I am finding it hard to remember ever seeing other unrelated 'white' passengers sharing my trips on local buses. Both local buses yesterday carried live chickens as well as human passengers. It is normal here to buy your chicken dinner live!!

When I reached my destination I was locked out! I had left my key with the owner and couldn't contact her on the way back. However the night watchman soon retrieved my key and I settled back in my mansion!

Today I went for prayers with St. Veronicas. I had no idea were they were meeting and got lost again! I found the one house I know – that of Mrs. Moonga and was escorted by one of her children and a friend, who put up with the comments from people along the way.

I was pleased that I made the effort because I received such a warm welcome from the lady who was hosting the small Christian community meeting. She said she had been very ill – spending a lot of time in hospital and only after two years they diagnosed a form of TB. People expected her to die but she is now reasonably active again. It will have been several years see she last saw me – she said she thought she was dreaming when I arrived and was delighted that I had come to say prayers at her house. It was a joy for me to meet her again.

Raymond arrived this evening in time to share my supper of eggs, green beans and garlic chips.


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