Friday, May 19, 2017

Travelling back to Zambia

Tuesday 16th May

The day has arrived! Everything seems to be under control - bags are packed and I should scrape in under limit. I checked in yesterday co-ordinating with Ben over the phone. I decided to pop along to church for a final word before my trip.

At 12.30 pm as agreed Ben arrived. A cup of coffee, slight adjustment of bags and at about 1.30 pm we set off for Heathrow - allowing Ben's wife Cathy to return to Devon.

A trouble free journey got us to the airport well before 4pm and ten minutes later our bags were deposited and we were free to move forward.

We were taking four cases – one was probably still uner 20Kg, but the others were fully loaded! Somehow my backpack had gained weight – maybe the additional notebook (computer type), or extra replaceable batteries – anyway with my heavy laptop - my hand luggage must have been pushing the 12Kg.

So far so good – in fact remarkeable! Eventually Ben was allowed to approach the security area. You need a good printer for the machines to recognise the pattern on your boarding pass. After several attempts it let him pass! I was told that nothing should be on top of each other, so I used four trays – or was it five? - and still I set off the alarm! I was searched – a small key prove to be the culprit! For good measure they scanned my shoes for explosives!! Ben just had his bag searched!!`

Our stay in the departure lounge was uneventful and we even manage to get a seat where we could watch the planes.

We took off on time into a cloudy sky, heading more east than south, before making a more determined attempt to reach Africa - which we achieved after about 3½ hrs. Leaving the UK at about 6.30 pm resulted in a meal a little after 8pm. Allowing us to prepare for sleep from about 9.30/10 pm. At 1 am UK time we were awoken for breakfast!! We landed on time at 5 am (Kenya time) 3 am BST!

Wednesday 17th May

Another security challenge at Nairobi – This time it was my watch and belt that caught me out – at 3.30am having not slept, I was not not in my most mentally agile state!!

We had a good flight to Lusaka – though I seem to have misjudged the position of Kilimanjaro and Ben therefore missed a spectacular view.

Immigration was swift and trouble free. We were now truly in Zambia – me for the fifteenth year and Ben for his first visit to Africa. On Tuesday while still at home, I rang Voltamp – an electrical shop in Lusaka, where I have previously bought batteries for the mobile phone charger. I needed to check the address, since I was misled through the Internet last year. I made the mistake of asking the fare after the driver had left his companion! I therefore ended up paying over the odds for my trip to the bus station via Chachacha Road to pick up the battery.

We arrived at the Intercity bus station a little after 11 am. Ben had seen a little of Lusaka from the bus – now he was about to experience Zambia full on!! Intercity bus station is noisy and full of people and activity. All manner of goods are being hawked. Food, watches, data storage devices, belts – loads of belts!, even wollen hats for the winter (it was probably 25 C at the time and the sun made us a lot hotter!) Passengers perched wherever they could, luggage included mattresses, hardware, ironware, pipes – you name it – all piled up ready for the bus. The 11.30 bus was full – though there might be one seat for someone without luggage. The next bus was the 1.30 pm so I settled for a couple of seats on that one and prepared for a two hour wait. By 1pm the bus had not arrived – usually the bus is there at least ½ hour early for loading. At about 1.30 there was a bus waiting that clearly said it was going at 1 pm. I was told that the 1.30pm bus would be along soon. At a little after 2 pm the 1 pm bus left! I had prevously explained to Ben that Shalom buses leave on time! As usual when I think I understand what happens in Zambia, I get it wrong.

For the past few years there was another bus company “Mazandu Family Bus Service” which also ran to time and seemed to have a quality operation. Unfortunately there was a major accident resulting in a number of deaths and a Mazandu bus was involved. It seems that the bus might have had faulty brakes, but continued to run. The result is that all Mazandu buses have been taken off the road.

Eventually another Shalom bus arrived. I was advised that this was also not my bus, but another would arrive soon. I approached the bus and had the impression that some with 1.30 tickets were being accepted. I tried again and another Shalom official confirmed that it was our bus. Relieved we took the luggage around for loading and watched it being stored in the luggage compartment.

There was a bit of commotion and confusion where the passengers where boarding. When I showed our tickets I was told to wait. There was something about tickets for seats from 56 onwards – ours were 61 an 62. I made the point that our bags had already been loaded. We waite for a while before eventually we were handed back our tickets with new seat numbers. Eventually we boarded the 56 seater bus – I am not sure who lost their seats to make way!

At about 15hrs we set off from the bus station. A pastor jumped onboard an preached for the next twenty minutes before leaving us on the outskirts of town.

The day was warm and partially cloudy, which was very pleasant – giving us some breaks from the hot sun. The sunset left a warm orange golden glow typical here in Africa and later the African night sky was revealed – as Ben described - so different to that in England.

Fr. Clement met us at Tooters Roadhouse where the bus dropped us. There had been a slight change of plans and we would now spend the first couple of nights at the priest's house by the cathedral.

In practice this is no bad thing. The priest's house is very central, we don't need to sort out catering immediately and Ben will get the chance to meet and relate to some of the clergy.

We had a great supper with lots of good humour – and each had a bottle of Mosi!

After a warm shower, I felt more human and ready for a good night's sleep.

P.S. Plenty of photos to follow!!

No comments: