Sunday, 23 June 2013

How time flies......I'm homeward bound

Well, I've finally reached the end of my 4 month adventure in Zambia as I fly home to the UK tomorrow morning.  I left the SunnyMoney office 10 days ago and what a final week it was!  I thought I'd dealt with most things over the past 4 months but my final week managed to deliver a new challenge. 

SunnyMoney sends field teams to schools in rural areas to sell solar lights.  We have our own vehicles but one of them in particular, the 'White Bus', has seen better days and chose my final week to break down in Ndola.  Not only did the bus contain a load of unsold solar lights it also contained a new recruit, someone who'd only joined the team that Monday.  Needless to say, stranding her in Ndola was not what we'd planned for the induction so we set about finding a way of getting the team and products home to Lusaka. 

We managed to call in a few favours with our local mechanic, Baldys, and one of his team set off at 4am the next morning to collect the van and team - not quite AA service but very good for Zambia.  The added twist to this challenge was our Operations Director, Sarah, was on vacation in Canada so we had no means of accessing funds to pay for any help, hence the use of a friendly mechanic who thankfully agreed for us to pay later - phew!  It may seem an easy task typed up here but believe me, solving this little incident took up a good 2 days of our time.

After all that stress, I had a final Nshima lunch (Musonda cooked my favourite relish - sausage) with Karla's cakes for dessert (choc brownies and lemon shortcake - yum yum) and went home to pack for a week's R&R in Livingstone.

As I flew into Livingstone the following morning I was greeted with a very different view to my previous visit.  Since the rainy season had passed, gone was the towering wall of spray visible from the air, making the falls alot less prominent on the horizon.  I was picked up by the friendly and reliable Jollyboys crew and within the hour was lounging by the pool in the afternoon sun - perfect!

I had made no plans for Livingstone this time as I had covered alot in my previous visit and was really only there to wind down before the journey home to England.  However, I did a few activities on and off land, including a 5 star breakfast on Livingstone Island which was now open. 

It was quite a treat and, despite my vertigo, I managed to stand right on the edge of the falls for a spectacular view of the water cascading down. 

On the way back on the jet boat I saw elephants wading across the top of the falls which was truly breathtaking.  Unfortunately I couldn't catch it on camera as we were whizzing along in the water at the time but the image is etched into my brain.

I was also lucky enough to have a Game Drive on my own which allowed me to practice my photography unrushed in the late afternoon sun. Here are a few of my favourites:

One of the less appealing things I saw in Livingstone was the Jollyboys cat picking up a pretty sizeable lizard in it's jaw, chomping off and eating its tail and then spitting out the body to let it flail about on the concrete. Yuk!!

You can tell it's now time to go home as the Winter has really set in.  I had to take my hat off to the optimistic American girls at Jollyboys who, despite it being Winter and very cold in the morning, were sitting in bikinis around the pool at 8am, wrapped up in wool blankets.  Every time the sun tried to pop out and add some warmth they would whip off the blankets, cream up and try and soak it up for the whole ten minutes until it popped behind a cloud again :) 

This is in stark contrast to Donna at the Dutch Reformed Church who has been wearing a woolly hat, gloves and 2 jumpers for the past month claiming it's perishing. You can tell the locals think it's cold as the ice cream man has disappeared.  He used to walk through the streets of Rhodes Park with a fridge on wheels, ringing a hand bell, waiting for children to run out from their compounds and buy his Parmalat ice cream but I suspect he's now switched to selling hot water bottles and thermals at the traffic lights!!

Now as I sit here reflecting on my time in Zambia I feel very privileged to have experienced so much.  The work's been hard and challenging but the people have been brilliant and the sun's heat, well I wish I could take that home in a bottle.  However, the top 5 things I'm looking forward to about home are:

1. Seeing my Nephew Noah who apparently is outgrowing his clothes rapidly
2. Catching a London bus and having space to breathe and a soft seat rather than a wooden bench under my bum with my cheek pressed to the minibus window and my head glued to the roof
3. Having a long hot soak in my bath
4. Walking barefoot around my flat on squishy cream carpets rather than dusty floors
5. Having a dishwasher for the cooking pots

I have loads of things planned for my time in London....Wimbledon, The PROMs, BBC Audience tickets to radio recordings, teaching Noah to swim, rundle spundles with my sis and Noah, Mum's birthday celebrations.......

However, I've only got 5 weeks before I head off again, this time for Asia madness.  I'll posting from London about my prep for that little adventure so see you soon folks!

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