A Travellerspoint blog

May 2009

The horror of getting older

In my original vague outline of what might one-day have become an idea, I wasn't actually planning on visiting Zambia at this point in my trip at all. But having been told about this mythical ceremony called Kuomboka and being convinced to go, here i was. It was at that point that we accidentally discovered that due to some technical difficulties (the site wasn't ready, someone was drunk, the Zambian president wanted the dates changed. Nobody really knew) the ceremony was being postponed for a week. I'm not sure what the equivalent would be, although I suppose if the Pope suddenly deciding 2weeks before Easter that he had double booked Easter Sunday with a gurneying competition, and thus unilaterally declared that Easter was being delayed for a week, it might be roughly the same.

Which left us with a week, and Lusaka was not the place to spend it. Especially as a certain somebody had a relevant age-related date in the middle (meh. Everybody gets old at some point, and i was already past that point). So we headed to Lake Kariba. Which – ignoring the punctures on the way there – was actually really nice. I can't say that there was actually all that much to do, but that wasn't the point. It was beautiful and relaxed and I really liked it. About the most strenuous thing we did was drink wine, eat from all you can eat freshly BBQ'd buffets and take a boat trip around the lake. Wine, a beautiful Finnish woman, hippos in the water, sunset on the lake and an illegal stop-over on a Zimbabwean island for a few minutes. What more could you ask for? If this is what happens every time I get an unexpected date change, I can't complain.

DSC_0645.jpg

DSC_0711.jpg

DSC_0725.jpg

P4060343.jpg

Posted by Gelli 05:54 Archived in Zambia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

The delights of city planning

I'm not exactly sure who designed and built Lusaka, but if i had to guess i would say nobody at all. I would guess that it was designed as some kind of cunning social experiment, as curiously, Lusaka, a populous capital city, notably seems to lack both a centre and anything to do. The 'city centre' if you can call it that is a single main road lined mostly with banks and financial institutions, and pretty much nothing else. By 6pm, it is a ghost town and a no-go area. Admittedly many cities, such as London, have financial and business centres which get quiet at night, but they do at least normally have area where there are people and other stuff as well. To top it off, the city has been built with pretty much no way to travel from anywhere to anywhere else without passing through the small central area, meaning travelers from East to South, HAVE to go via the centre (which pretty much consists of a roundabout at each end of 1km of Cairo Road, the city centre) regardless of if they are using public transport or private car. Which takes time.

The central street is kind of loosely surrounded by 3 big minibus stations and several smaller ones, which are all an absolutely chaotic hive of activity during the day, but again tend to close around sunset. There are also a couple of rough markets fairly close. But nothing else. No real shops to speak of, no restaurants or bars, or really anything else to attract people into the city. Talking to ex-pats in the city, and their general escape of choice and destination for relaxation or amusement are two shopping centres, fairly close together in the North East suburbs and what are at least in a way, white ghetto's. Yup, Zambia is living the Ameican dream: for entertainment, go to the mall. I tend to like 'real' lived in cities, of the sort that other people and tourists rarely like, but even i struggled to warm to central Lusaka. It's a very odd place.

Chawama, on the other hand, I loved.

Maaret had been living in Lusaka for 6months before she came to Namibia, working as a teacher in a vocational school on one compound, and living with a Zambian family in Chawama, another large compound in the south. A compound is pretty much the local name for what in the Western press would be called a slum, and Chawama is one of the largest in Lusaka. Housing maybe 200,000 people (nobody really has the faintest idea), it is a higgeldy assortment of brick, metal and wood shacks and dwellings of varying size and colour, in a maze of dusty, potholed and rubbish filled alleyways and streets. At a rough estimate there were 12 mzungu's (white people) living there. Most residents were poor, pretty darned poor or really, really poor, but at the same time I felt much more comfortable – and safer – wandering around Chawama than I did in the rest of Lusaka, and, heck, parts of most European cities.

It is hard to describe, and for some reason I didn't feel right taking photos of it (even though there would be no problem) so you'll just have to believe that I loved it and try and picture mentally something that you probably can't picture.

But by far the best part of Lusaka was the family, who were stunningly friendly and welcoming, and especially the kids, who adopted me as their latest play-toy and climbing frame with unbridled (and loud) enthusiasm.

DSC_0503.jpg

DSC_0511.jpg
Happy parents Purity and Handsen, with 1month old Gracious

DSC_0581.jpg
The crazy kids: Thabo (left), Prince (back), Malelego and Clare (front)

P4010209.jpg

DSC_0538.jpg

DSC_0559.jpg

DSC_0563.jpg

DSC_0606.jpg

DSC_0834.jpg
This is pretty much what I did in Lusaka. Got turned into a kids climbing frame. The inflatable snake is Cedric, though sadly he and Fred did not get on and so he remains with kids in Lusaka

Posted by Gelli 05:44 Archived in Zambia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

(Entries 11 - 12 of 12) Previous « Page 1 2 [3]