Greetings from Solwezi, a city in Northern Zambia. I have come here to organise my temporary permit at the immigration office.
I was going to be leaving the mission today but our trip got brought forward one day and we (my mother and I) left at 30mins notice. It was all very haphazard but I'm now in Solwezi and will hopefully get my temporary permit tomorrow. I missed the staff Christmas lunch yesterday and the carol singing in the hospital with the nursing students (tomorrow) but it couldn't be helped. I'll just have to come back next Christmas to take part in the festivities ;)
Solwezi is interesting. I guess it's a typical African city. Very dusty, lots of people and little infrastructure. The main road is tarsealed but apart from that there are just rutted lanes. It did have a supermarket but it burnt down! It has a market place and various shops selling much the same thing (maize meal and bike parts). I'm hoping to be able to buy some material (chatenge) tomorrow.
We are staying at a nice but basic guesthouse. A tiny room with ensuite and twin beds costs over $60 NZ per night. Very different from travelling in South East Asia. And we aren't staying in the recommended lodge which is $200+ per night. Last night we stayed in Mwinilunga with a really nice man called Charlie. His parents were missionaries so he has lived in Zambia for most of his life. We went out for dinner with him and his nephew Shane. Shane had come up from Zimbabwe to help set up a game park with his uncle, at the moment he is building a road by hand. Tough. We were halfway through our meal (two menu choices; chicken or steak and chips:) when Shane's girlfriend turned up. She is a peace corps worker and lives in a remote village with no vehicle and no cell phone reception. Shane had said to her that if she didn't hear from him by the 20th to come and find him in the restaurant in Mwinilunga so she managed to hitch a ride with the Malaria health workers who were driving past. It was an amazing example of life without instant communication or reliable transport and roads.
Merry Christmas everyone. I will have another post about the festive season in Zambia later in the week. (unless I get thrown in jail by the immigration people!)