Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why I Love Zambia

Immediately falling in love with a place rarely happens for me. In fact I think that the only place I have instantly fallen in love with is Alaska. Unfortunately Zambia was not on that list. My justification for this is an alleged quote by John Muir, "Alaska should be the last place you visit on this earth before you die so that you are not disappointed by all other destinations on Earth." But that is not to say that I haven't come to love so many things about Zambia over the three years that I have been here. So, to get to the point what I come to love about Zambia.
  • A weekend getaway will take you to a national park with the highest leopard population in Southern Africa. Or to a chimp reserve deep, deep in the bush where you can play with chimps and braai out in the evenings. Or a trip deep in the bus will reveal an amazing and beautiful place that very few people on the face of this earth have ever seen.
    • South Luangwa National Park

      This photo was actually taken in Chobe National Park in Botswana, will have photos from S. Luangwa after the 4th of July.
    • Chimfunshi Chimp Reserve

    • Wonder Gorge
Photos stolen from the internet! Thanks for the contribution.
  • The degree of separation in Zambia is one or two, not six or seven. For being such a spread out large country of 13 million people, everyone still seems to know everyone else.
  • A simple trip to a city market will yield the most amazing treasures. Recent finds at Kamwala Market in Lusaka were:
    • Sega Genesis
    • Dried Monkey foot
    • Turtle Shells
    • Porcupine Quills
    • Various herbs for traditional medicine
    • Homemade Indian food served by a lovely Hindu mother who dishes everything out with her hands
  • Everyone you meet has a very peculiar, interesting or down right bizarre story to tell.
    • On Saturday my friend took us to visit an artist friend of his. She is a white Zambian lady whose parents hail from Zimbabwe or from South Africa. Those same parents might have been fully engaged communist or simply believers in socialism. They somehow ended up in Zambia with a huge plot in a really nice neighborhood. The artist acquired the land after her parents passed away because she was the one taking care of them. When you walk into the lot you know immediately that it is not meticulously groomed and cared for like the other lots on the same street, it is wild and over grown. Despite having an employee her house is falling apart and filthy. Her and her husband sleep on a twin sized bed in a room the size of my mother's closet. The sheets where a more off white, dusty color than the crisp, clean white they once were 15 years ago. The floor was covered in plastic bags and dirty paper cups. The ceiling panels were falling in and stained from the roof leaking in the rainy season. Her tiny little dog was so excited to have visitors that he was jumping all over the coffee table and the furniture. Paintings were haphazardly stacked throughout the house.
  • You can have the strangest conversations. Conversations you would never dream of having in the states.
    • About a year and a half ago my buddy Dale and I had dinner at a friend's house. Between washing my clothes in her washing machine and catching up, Dale and I didn't leave her place until 23:00. The road she lived on was in a nice neighborhood, not far from a lot of the embassies, but notorious stomping grounds for hoolays (or to be politically correct, commercial sex workers). A woman in a particularly fantastic gold sequenced, stretchy skirt was very concerned about my state of affairs. "Madame, have you been chased from your home? Your husband chased you didn't he?" A little confused I responded that no we were merely coming from a friend's house and were on our way home. "But why do you have all those clothes? And who is that guy you are with? He must be your new boyfriend and your husband chased you two away." Nope, I replied. We are just friends, coming from another friend's house where I did my laundry. "But why are you carrying that on your head?" Because it is heavy I retorted. "But Madame you are scaring the people." Why is that I asked, now really confused. "Because you look like the ghost of an African woman."
  • You can call up a stranger on the phone, that your friend met, and invite them over for dinner and it is not all that bizarre.
  • Zambian's are so incredibly friendly. If you are lost they will escort you to your destination. If you are hungry they will feed you. If you are tired they will give you a place to rest.

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