Sunday, 10 March 2013

Long Weekend

Friday 8th March

Today is Women's Day in Zambia and a public holiday - I know, I'm a lucky lady to have a holiday so soon after my arrival.  A few members of the SolarAid team had planned long weekends away as Tuesday (12th) is also a public holiday (I know, I know - it's brilliant!) but I wanted a relaxing long weekend as the past three weeks have been quite hectic at work. 

I marked the start of the long weekend with dinner at Mahaks on Thursday night.  Karla and her family had already planned a visit and invited others to join them; Claire and I took up the offer.  I had a thoroughly good evening.  Mahaks is semi-famous (it's even mentioned in Bradt!) for its bargain KR 25 (~£3) all you can eat Vegetable Thali so I tried that and was definitely not disappointed.  It was mildy spiced, fresh and very tasty.  Accompanied with an ice cold Mosi beer it was the perfect start to the weekend. 

Karla was kind enough to drop me home and this time, having pre-warned my night guard I was going to be late home, he left the front gates open.  The gates are relatively low but having had to climb over them the previous weekend, torch in mouth, I was keen not to repeat the experience!!  I wish someone had told me the night routine earlier (i.e. pre-warn the guard) as he accompanied me to my front door where he'd left the night light on in preparation - quite the gentleman :)

I'm starting to recognise the church staff and learn their names.  They really are a fantastic bunch and they always say hello to me when I come and go.  It's like having an extended family and feels alot more homely. 

Anyway, in aid of Women's Day I decided to have a spot of girly pampering so booked a Back and Shoulder Massage at Senses @ Sensorium Spa in Rhodes Park.  I arrived early as I'd walked part of the way there and wasn't sure how long the journey would take.  The building was quite large and not at all what I expected, having only seen a small advert for the Spa in the February Lowdown magazine.  Spotting a shaded veranda out the front, I expected to pass the 30minutes before my appointment reading my kindle on the veranda.  However, the receptionist quickly shuffled some appointments and had me called in for my massage within 10 minutes - very efficient!

I was settled onto the massage table, the blinds were drawn and soft music set playing.  The masseuse, a petite Zambian lady only just taller than the table, asked if I was comfortable and then began massaging my back.  It was heavenly and I was semi-conscious within minutes, just what the doctor ordered.  I could feel the tension slipping away and was thanking my lucky stars for showing me that Lowdown advert!  About 40 minutes later the music and massage stopped and I entered consciousness again.  At c.£12 it was considerably cheaper than similar treatments I'd had in England and I made a note to come back again and try their other treatments; certainly not an every day event but well worth it for a public holiday treat.

I walked home through the sunshine and back streets of Rhodes Park to Long Acres.  It may be marginally quicker to take Addis Ababa Drive but the traffic is horrendous.  I particularly enjoy walking around Lukasu Road and the back of the swimming pool.  There is a street (I've yet to find out its name) there which has high grasses on either side that attract the most amazing wildlife.  I've lost count of the number of different species of butterfly I've spotted around there - at least 30, of all different colours and sizes - orange, black, white, pink....  As I stand under my umbrella shade, the butterflies often come and rest on my hand or foot before fluttering off.  I always forget to take my camera with me but maybe next weekend I'll go early and try and get some shots.

Lusaka is filled with wonderful wildlife if you keep your eyes open.  This week I opened my front door to find a giant snail on the external doormat.  Luckily I didn't squash it with my size 8's!  Karla and I also spotted a gecko jetting across the office floor on Thursday, the cheeky fellow.  I have a bright grasshopper carcass (he wasn't so lucky as the snail) under my desk and I found a 20cm long, jet black millipede in the grass yesterday with Donna's daughters.  Oh, and of course the lovely Slippers, the pastor's dog which has taken it upon himself to sit barking outside my bedroom at 3am every morning this week - no wonder I needed the massage :)

Saturday 9th March

Yesterday, Saturday, I left home early (i.e. pre-8am) to get to ProFlight's Ridgeway office.  Mum and Dad have decided to pay me a visit over the May bank holiday, so I am trying to arrange a trip to Livingstone for us all.  The bus was unusually packed for that time on a Saturday morning and I was jammed onto the back seat with three huge teenage lads.  Weirdly, they were dressed in white lab coats!  I've seen this quite a bit on Saturday mornings, particularly around Alick Nkhata Avenue so if anyone can enlighten me as to the reason for their unusual attire I'd be much obliged.

Anyway, I got to ProFlight at 9am and was first in the queue - yay.  I specified my required flights, passenger names etc and agreed the flights and costs with the man in the office.  However, when it came to pay I offered up my Visa credit card.  Easy I thought, and no card fees - STA could learn alot!  The trouble was I'd forgotten my PIN code.  Three weeks in Zambia, dealing only with cash, my brain had erased all my PINs.  Argh!  After two attempts I left the office in panic and embarrassment.  I only had one attempt left otherwise I'd be blocked for good with no hope of receiving a new PIN from England.  Thankfully our booking was secured until 16 March so I went for a walk in the hope of reviving my memory.  It worked and I remembered the dratted number, returned to ProFlight with my tail between my legs and paid for the tickets.  Phew!

To revive the spirits after all that excitement I headed to Mugg and Bean at Levy Junction and treated myself to their 'today's special'.  It was apple pie and they served it warm with ice cream - delicious - the pasty was as light as air and the apple thinly sliced yet with a touch of bite remaining.  I couldn't have cooked better myself and it was all I could do not to have a second slice.  For those of you who watch Lark Rise to Candleford, like Dorcus Lane I have my weaknesses and food, in particular things like apple pie and cheese scones, are one of them.  I have yet to find a decent cheese scone in Zambia but I will continue searching.  I tried one of Pick and Pay's Cheese Scones on Thursday but it was as dry and tasteless as cardboard so they get a resounding 'nil point', as they say in the Eurovision.  I think I may have spotted some decent Pick & Mix at The Food Lover's Market in Levy Junction but am holding out on trying those until I need an emergency pick me up :)

After Levy Junction I began my wander home and, now knowing the correct way down Independence Avenue (!), decided to head south down Dushambe Road towards Independence Avenue.  At the junction of the two roads I noticed a huge crowd and edged my way forward.  It was fantastic, there was a parade through the streets in support of Women's Day.  There were marching bands and costumes and lots of noise which was shortly added to by a military fly past as three fighter jets flew overhead in formation.  The trees and roads shook with the vibrations they were that close to the ground.  Thankfully I remembered not to take pictures as you can get in alot of trouble taking pictures of the military here, and instead stood amongst the crowd admiring the scene.  Here, when dressing for such events, its common for a group to pick a fabric design and each have dresses/outfits made in the fabric so you could easily spot specific groups within the parade.  Some churches had even had fabric printed with their name as part of the design which I thought was quite impressive.

The bus back home was similarly packed as people tried to get to and from the parade.  On my return I asked Donna whether it was a parade only on Saturday but she said it was taking place every day between Friday 8th and Tuesday 12th, the next bank holiday.  By this time I was quite tired from my adventures so sat in the garden and watched the comings and goings of a wedding at the church with Donna and her daughters.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon :)

Sunday 10th March (Mothers Day - Happy Mothers Day Mum!)

What a miserable today Sunday is turning out to be.  I was awoken quite early, maybe 5 or 6am by the start of the rain.  It was hammering on the tin roof and pouring off the porch.  Since I was awake I awoke and had an early breakfast then, noticing the rains were persisting went back to bed to read my book.

I downloaded quite a few random books onto my Kindle before I left the UK and found out yesterday that one of the free titles I'd downloaded is quite a gem.  It's called 'Stairlift to Heaven by Terry Ravenscroft and is about Terry's retirement experiences.  Since Terry used to be a scriptwriter for BBC sitcoms and comedy shows (Les Dawson, Morecambe & Wise, The Two Ronnies etc) and a writer on Radio 4's the Huddlines you can imagine the humour.  I have been laughing out loud so much I thought I was disturb the parishioners in church :)  The particularly liked his trip to York charity shop shopping and the swimming lesson story.

Sunday is normally the day I go grocery shopping.  I could go to Melissa's in Kabulonga which is local and reasonably priced but if I am honest I prefer the selection at Pick and Pay at Woodlands.  The only problem with that is it's a 20min walk away.  This is lovely on the way there but, depending on what I buy, can be a long trek home if the bags are heavy.  So, I try and do a bit of planning before I go.

There are alot of Chinese restaurants in the streets around Kabulonga, Ibex Hill and Crossroads and this is represented in the shoppers at Pick and Pay.  I regularly share the aisles with Chinese people on a Sunday morning.  Last Sunday was quite amusing; I was walking down the toiletries aisle and on the parallel aisle a Chinese family was talking loudly, discussing their shopping for everyone to hear.  I was chuckling as it reminded me on the noise and bustle in China but the Zambian Pick and Pay and staff were outraged at the noise, debating the manners of the Chinese and whether it was normal for Chinese people to shout at each other in public.  I laughed and quietly informed them it was perfectly normal but it didn't make it any better in Lusaka on a Sunday morning. 

Anyway, by noon the rains still hadn't stopped and I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get to Woodlands for my groceries.  Needless to say since I run quite a tight ship re: kitchen supplies I was clean out of lunch options, well apart from boring old cup a soup and on a miserable day like today that was the last thing I fancied.  I was beginning to consider calling Noah as, after 6 hours of continual rain the animals (spiders, geckos etc) had started entering my cottage two-by-two to try and shelter from the rain.  I took a tentative look out the window and my garden path was completely underwater so things didn't look promising.  However, at 1pm I decided to venture out, kitted as I was in my North face jacket and chunky Merrell trainers. 

It's good I did wrap up as it was nippy (well for here, anyway) and everyone seemed to be holed up in inside as the streets were deserted.  All the streetside vendors had gone home, even the trusty mechanic at Kabulonga lights had packed up and shock of shocks, Mellissa's supermarket was closed (!!).  Anyway, I decided to continue on my journey and slipped and slided all the way to Woodlands, dodging the roadside lakes and minibuses intent on spraying me with muddy brown water.  Thankfully Pick and Pay was open but there weren't many customers.  I figured since it was cold and wet I'd need something warm for dinner so opted for a hearty spaghetti bolognaise and bananas and custard - yummy.  I even bought some pork bangers in case the rain continues tomorrow and I need another pick me up.

I eventually got home but was completely soaked, albeit the rain was much lighter than earlier, so my cottage now looks like a Chinese laundry with my coat and trousers hanging up to dry.  Roll on teatime and those bananas and custard.  For now, its back to bed to curl up under the duvet and read my book - yay. 

Cheerio folks.


  1. Quite a weekend by the sound of it! Obviously there are discerning diners in Lusaka if they sell Apple Pie WITH Ice Cream.
    You now know what Gerald Durrell meant when he wrote My Family and Other Friends.
    I have heard of the 'Men in Black' (Film?) but not Men in White (coats). It begs the question what were they up to and if they had escaped from some institution?

  2. That's what I thought. Don't worry, when you visit I will take you for some :)

    I think the men in white coats may be heading to the University for their lab work; lets hope it's not something more sinister!

    Oh yes, I have more creatures today. A slug has now joined my pet brigade; it was waiting on my front door for me this morning, right on the padlock!