Day 5: Up at 4:15, we left Lima Garden at 4:45 to take Charles to the bus station. Now bus stations are sketchy even in OK, but add in the African dynamic and it's an adventure. People everywhere, busses everywhere, horns honking, men acting almost like carnies to hock their bus tickets, and cars coming and going all in a parking lot the size of a small business lot in OK. We dropped Charles off and in the darkness, headed to Livingstone, I presume...sorry, couldn't resist.
Getting out of town was as normal as any African journey in town. Sparce street lights, traffic, walkers, taxis, until we reached the end of town and hit the highway construction. So yeah...for many miles it was one way traffic. They would stop one direction and allow the other direction to go and then switch. Just as we came out of that we were diverted to a dirt road for many miles. At one point, Fraywell says he has never gone this way before. It's dark, no signs, much traffic and our driver is wondering if we're headed the right direction. And a lot of semis, a LOT! Instead of wide load, the signs on the oversized trucks here say ABNORMAL. As you can imagine, we got several giggles out of that. I'm pretty sure every time Fraywell sees one now, he'll think of us.
The good news, we were headed the right direction and met back up with the highway after 20 or so kilometers of ungrated dirt road. Most of my fillings are still in my head I'm pretty sure. So we turn south again and head to Livingstone. We enter the Manunu Hills and I'm transported temporarily back to the Arbuckle mountains of OK. Have I mentioned the dirt here is red like home? Watching the sunrise over the mountains was a special enjoyment. I love the trees of Africa. The Baobob is my favorite with its huge trunk, many of the trees here bloom in bright colors and the sweeping umbrellas of the Acacia trees are like lace against the sky. School children walking alongside the highway makes my breath catch. It is their everyday and yet to see small children walking alongside a highway where cars are driving 100KM an hour is startling to me and yet it's just what they do. Sometimes they see me and we wave at each other bringing smiles to us all.
As I'm heading to see the seventh wonder of the world, I'm in awe of the opportunities I've had in my life, I want to always be grateful for this great adventure.
So the sights and smells of Africa are intriguing. These sweet people are concerned about keeping their cars in clean, pristine condition. They wipe them down at the end of every day, car washes are prolific and yet throw their trash out of the window as they drive along. Keeps the car clean but covers the countryside in garbage. And with water being a premium, although their cars are clean, their bodies are ripe. Not dirty necessarily, at least visibly. But the scent of an African man at the end of the day is quite, well, full? Imagine a man having freshly mown the lawn, chopped the wood and taken out the trash in his Sunday clothes giving you a hug. Now you're getting it. And it's winter here so there is most likely a jacket on top. The only benefit is with the dusty air and lack of catalytic converters, most of the time my nose is stopped up. And my heart is stronger than my sense of smell, I genuinely love the people!
I have discovered my true worth here though. In the front seat of the car , I am almost a guaranteed wave through at the plentiful police stops along the highways. You see an orange cone and you begin to slow down for ahead the police are in the middle of the road checking drivers licenses, tax stickers, breath for drinkers, or other violations. Probably more than 20 stops so far, we've been waved through all but 2. Fraywell says the police want me to go home and send everyone to Zambia. I totally will, it's beautiful here and the people are lovely. They speak English well, the kwacha are easy to understand. $100 kwacha =$20 American. Even I can do that math.
So we arrived in Livingstone and I'm immediately struck by how clean it is. The UNWTO is having their 20th conference here and they are putting on the show for them. The streets lines are painted, the sellers have been moved out, the streets are swept and clean. There is a lot of construction racing to be finished and the markets are well stocked and ready. In two weeks, Livingstone will be full!
Our first day here we got more rest than expected. We were anticipating reviewing 14 National Missionaries in the afternoon and then a visit with a friend of Fraywells. Our regional leader showed up and said he had sent the men to rest because he thought we would be tired. We were not happy about this and asked him to try and reschedule them for that evening. He said he would call them. We did not hear from him until late in the evening, he had gone to play golf. See? We aren't really so different.
As he came by that evening, Fraywell had a stern talk with him and said the men needed to be at our place, ready for interviews by 8am. Not only were they there, but several arrived early. This was very good. We finished the reviews, our regional director apologized for the previous day and we changed clothes to go.
Day six: We struck out through Livingstone toward Victoria Falls. It is truly a wonder! The sound and sight of it are awe inspiring. The baboons in the park just running around add a special humor. At this time of year, the falls are not at their fullest so you don't have to wear raingear. We did however get plenty damp from the rising mist. It's a little bit of a hike but very pleasurable!
After leaving the falls we went shopping. I must admit this wears me out. I'm not a shopper in America but to have to haggle over every price, be called into every shop, be best friends with every shop owner and to be called mama by strangers all day is exhausting. The handicrafts and artwork are beautiful. The process to bring them home. Not so much. But I got the mama discount for almost everything and although I could have haggled longer, I feel good with what I did. If I paid 5 kwacha too much here and there, I hope it is a blessing.
We returned to our guest house, the nicest one we have stayed in so far for a short rest. Then on to Christopher's home. He is a retired government worker and friend of Fraywells. We walked around the corner from where we were staying and entered his compound. Christopher purchased a piece of land and built his house in the middle. He then built 4 rental units around the back of the property, 2 duplexes. It is a large home with large rooms but even though the house is less than two years old, it is like much of the construction here, very poor.
So even though Christopher was suffering with malaria, he was a gracious host. We started with juice and biscuits. Conversation was plentiful and diverse. His daughter, Katie, was cooking all this time. We got there at 4. Dinner was served around 7, and after-dinner yogurt and fruit finished around 8:30. We were given a tour of the home and admired some of his sand art. He insisted on giving one piece to Ellen because he had two alike. As we were leaving his home, he gave me and Fraywell each 100 kwacha because he couldn't let us leave with only one having a gift. Americans could learn much from Africans.
I feel like all we have done is eat. It is hard when people with so little honor you by feeding you. You feel obligated to eat each time and to eat it all and they want you to have your fill, so they keep passing the bowls. And pop is a big treat here, especially cold ones. And there is always one waiting.
I will leave Africa having gained weight. I need to make my peace with that.
Day seven: We left early again this morning for our 500 km journey home.
The return trip was without incident. It was hot for the first time since we've been here. Road construction made our journey slower and much dustier. At one point the dust was so thick, we had to roll up the windows and ride with only the vent blowing. we were sweaty! The Chinese have built good roads here. The Zambians have paid for them in mineral rights. The Chinese are smart and one day we may all need to speak their language.
We pulled into Arcades, a local shopping center much like an American strip mall. Exchanged some money, we had spent all the kwacha we had. When we were ready to leave, Fraywell started the car, we heard a thump and a bad noise. Fraywell couldn't turn the steering wheel and we found the belt on the ground. After Fraywell, Ellen, a security guard, a taxi driver and a passerby looked it over it was determined that a pulley had broken and the belt had come off. Fraywell sent us home in a taxi and he left to hunt down the part. I hope he got some rest last night, it's been a wild week.
Ellen helping Fraywell fix the car. If you know Ellen, you know why this is funny!