Friday, November 5, 2010

Kitwe and Back

Hotel Edinburgh.  Kitwe.  A busy mining town on the Copperbelt of Zambia.  An over night work trip took me to the National Aquaculture Research Station outside of Kitwe.  The Global Aquaculture Specialist needed to get acquainted with the activities in aquaculture happening in Zambia.  Since this is the area that I have been working in for the past two years I went with him. 

The research station is in a beautiful area, a small river valley about 20kms from the main city of Kitwe.  There is community surrounding the research station with a basic school, a clinic and lots of cute little houses with surrounded by living fences and lush gardens.  The government facilities are rather large and there are about 50 fish ponds on site.  Both days we were there the rains came in and cooled us off.  It was a very pleasant surrounding to be in. 

Being a female working in fisheries though is a frustrating experience.  Its an old boys club where women aren't really properly acknowledged as having something of value to contribute.  A friend of mine works for the department up north and she is facing similar frustrations, even though she is more qualified than the vast majority of people in the department.  Needless to say I left the meeting yesterday very frustrated, but that is nothing new and neither here nor there.

We stayed at a very interesting place, the Hotel Edinbourgh in the heart of downtown Kitwe.  It was about 5 stories tall above a shopping complex just a minute walk from the downtown bus station.  There were street kids and amaguys on every block but the hotel was incredibly over done.  It was a strange juxtaposition to be in, wealth and abundance towering over poverty and scarcity.  One room for one night was equivalent to a 1/3 of my monthly living allowance or 1/3 of a Zambian teacher's starting monthly salary.  Unbelievable.  (I wasn't paying for the room in case you were concerned about how I was going to pay for groceries for next couple of weeks).

The trip home was nice, it was basically a continuous grocery shopping trip all the way back to Lusaka.  When I lived up country I would hitch hike a lot, the people giving me rides south would usually stop along the way to buy produce and various things that were expensive in town.  This practice used to annoy me because it slowed the trip down a lot and if i had large distances to cover it would make for a late night.  Having been out of the village now for about 2 months I started missing some typical village foods and the cheapest place to get those foods was along the roadside heading back to Lusaka.  Which meant lots of stops for us.  We stocked up on sweet potatoes, white eggplant, groundnuts, pumpkins, watermelons, wild honey, and sausage from the finest butchery in Zambia.  It took forever to get home but I don't really need to go grocery shopping this weekend now.  And, I won't have to buy meat for a few months now.  I realize now why people always stop at the roadside to buy their produce, it is much cheaper and its kind of fun to make random stops where you are swarmed by women hocking their finest tomatoes or bees are trying desperately to get one last taste of honey before you close the lid.

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