Japanese cars. Thousands of bloody cheap Japanese cars in pastel colours all called things like ‘Big Horn’ and ‘Yakult’ (well…possibly) have been flooding into Zambia and now in the capital Lusaka the traffic grinds into grid-lock twice a day every day. There is much building work too. Many of the derelict sites that had been there when I left 4 years ago have been bought up, tarted up and stuffed with glass. The supermarkets have almost everything (bar pork pies) and Spar in the main Arcades mall is more expensive then Asda in Cambridge. Zambia is now officially the second most expensive African country to live in and all this is mostly due it seems to AID money filling the coffers of a new middle class and a swelling expatriate community. Corruption is so endemic that it is written in as ‘contingency’ in every budget. Meanwhile the poor still sit in sewage around the edges of the city desperately devising daily plans to stay alive. Downtown the potholes are so deep people have stuck canoes in them as statements and their was a ‘mini’ riot during a by-election that involved one too many machetes for my liking. (Luckily I was on the other side of town.)
I had a fascinating and exhausting trip. The rains had been slamming down for months and electricity, telephones and internet servers were either down or sluggish so I had to seek out everyone by hiring a cab driver called Francis and zapping around like a crazy thing. I managed to source several good interviews from the blind and VI community and still get to see friends and stuff in a 2-day fishing fandango with my pa. We stayed at a camp with a resident hippo called Basil who mowed the lawns around the chalets day and night…..a bit disconcerting in the dark…
I wanted to mourn Teelo but I couldn’t find a way or a place. I kept looking for his dreads when we went out in the evening …as if he would appear any minute with a bedraggled cigarette, a beer and a huge hoot of laughter.
I’ll bang on about the trip in the next couple of entries but right now I am ravenous and need to raid my fridge.