Monday, 4 March 2013

Mosque to the rescue!

Sunday 3 March

Today is both a good and bad day; good because I had an unexpected and unplanned adventure but bad because I am truly exhausted as a result.

I started the day wanting to complete a simple task; to purchase some new underwear.  In my infinite wisdom I brought a whole stack of new knickers with me to Zambia.  My previous travels to West Africa had taught me firstly that cotton underwear is preferable in hot climates and secondly that handwashing wreaks havoc on clothes so not to bring anything fancy.  As such, I decided to opt for two new sets of cotton underwear from Primark - what a mistake!  I've only been here a fortnight and already they're shredding at the seams.  My Primark socks are fantastic but they can stuff their knickers when the sun don't shine as they're rubbish.  Never again am I buying cheap underwear.  As such, I was on a mercy mission to the shops today to rectify my undergarment crisis. 

Early last week I'd made a work trip to Levy Junction, a new shopping mall on Church Road.  I'd met Glenda, a member of our Board there, to get second signatures on a bunch of cheques.  I didn't have time to wander around on that trip as a driver was waiting for me but I noticed it had quite a few clothes shops so made a mental note to visit this weekend.  I caught a minibus from Kabulonga Shopping Centre to Ridgeway and planned to cover the remaining short distance from Independence Avenue to Levy Junction on foot.  However, I made fatal error of taking Independence Avenue in the wrong direction compounding the issue by taking a side road because I found Independence Avenue busy - duh. 

At first the side road was leafy and pleasant but it quickly turned a bit more gritty.  Looking round I noticed I was the only Muzungu (foreign person) in the vicinity and started to inwardly panic that I'd ventured somewhere unsafe.  I was reluctant to pull out my map and draw further attention to myself as 'little girl lost' so I soldiered on, found a main road and started to follow the blue/white transit buses, figuring they'd eventually direct me to a major junction.  I didn't get any hassle, other than the normal pointing and 'hi' when people see a Muzungu walking, but I was unsettled.

As I walked and walked I realised there were absolutely no road signs on the side streets.  By now I was starting to get a bit agitated - what if I never find my way out? how can I call a taxi if I can't tell them where I am?  Then, I noticed a tall tower ahead rising up on the skyline.  At first I thought it was a hotel or monument but then I realised it was the minaret from the city mosque.  

Shortly afterwards, on the left hand side of the road, I noticed a sign for Kabwata Cultural Village and a light went on in my brain - I'd seen that dot on my Bradt map as somewhere to visit - it was in the SW corner of the map.  It was then that I realised my mistake; I had walked back in the direction of home.  What a plonker as Delboy would say :)

I managed a sneaky look at the map in a petrol station, realised I was on Burma Road and followed the road straight up to the mosque on Independence Avenue, barely 500m from where the bus originally dropped me.  My 4 mile detour had worked up a hunger so, despite my tiredness, I continued my walk up Dusihambe Road, onto Church Road and into Levy Junction.  Needless to say I crashed and burned in Mugg & Bean, having a huge roasted vegetable panini with chips and pot of tea before even considering looking for knickers!

Eventually, after a good look around the shops, I bought the desired articles and headed for home, this time taking more care with the direction I was headed!  The whole adventure took roughly 5 hours and was, in hindsight, great as it showed me parts of the city I may never have seen before.  However, my feet are black with dirt and I am whacked so please excuse me now, I'm off for a well deserved afternoon nap.

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