Dance, Dance

This is Zambia. This is life here in Zambia. This is spending the day walking through the trees on the small footpaths until you make it to where they lead. To the next village, to the farm, to the fields. This is sitting in the sun, grass brushing on your cheeks, imagining what you would do if there were still lions living in these plains. How scared would you be?

This is sitting on the porch while a Zambian ataata tries to teach you a rhythm on the drum. This is you following along on an empty twenty-liter jug rigged as a drum. This is you following along until he stops and the beat seeps out from your fingers and is lost. This is you trying to retain these new rhythms. This is you failing to time and time again.

This is him drumming. This is him singing along over your two drums as the rain beats quickly over your heads. Quickly, quickly loud. This is the leak in the roof by your feet. This is you not caring if you get wet.

This is moving pots and towels around to cover the spots where the roof still leaks. This is not getting all of the spots. This is airing out your wet blanket in the morning when the clouds finally have cleared and the sky is blue and bright like nothing happened at all.

This is the amaama bringing food to the hut. Food that you brought her, food that she prepared. Mushrooms cooked with fish, and cabbage and nshima. This is eating with your hands, scooping up the pieces, mopping up the oils at the bottom, washing your hands while crouched over the dirt, pitcher in your hand. This is being satisfied. This is better than you could have ever made yourself.

This is people showing up. A greeting. A handshake. This is making chairs out of objects. This is everyone joining the circle on the porch.

This is pulling out the drums again. Creating rhythms. Creating music. Create something new. This everyone trying, everyone failing, drums play on. The drums keep playing on.

This is the sight of fallen clear and delicate termite wings covering the ground in the morning. This is stepping delicately at first around them, and then just stepping.

This is the amaama joining the party. Dance she says. Dance.

This is the dragonfly struggling to escape the lit porch. This is it flying into the light time and time again. You grab it. You throw it off of the porch and finally it flies away. This is the drums still playing. This is the rain falling. This is the rain slowing down.

Dance, she says to her husband.
Dance, she says to her son.



A Glimpse of Hitching

So on Monday me and my friend, Travis, hitched over to Mwinilunga from Samuteba, the town between the two of us, and where another volunteer, John, lives, too. We were going  to bike, but since we realized that we both needed to go to both Solwezi and to Mwinilunga, and they are in opposite directions on the tarmac, we decided to just catch the first hitch that came along going to either city and make a game of it. We managed to get a hitch in around ten minutes (record time!) going to Mwini. It was in a large truck, they were almost full but we convinced them to let us squish in.

The driver was pretty interesting. And a bit crazy. He would make these huge sweeping statements about things. Like that all Americans sell arms to the Angolans. And that HIV was created in America and brought over to kill Africans. But he was interesting to talk to nonetheless. And he didn’t charge us for the hitch which was nice of him. He was coming from Lusaka two days before, and heading a few hundred kilometers into Angola with what he said was  “groceries” No expansion, but the truck was huge, and loaded up in the back with stuff.

We got in right before the rain hit, and headed to a place at the bus station to get chicken and nshima. This place sells it for 15 kwacha (~$2.50), and its really good. We stayed there until the rains petered out a bit (the rainy season is really starting to hit, with rains at least every other day if not multiple times in one day), and headed off to do errands. Pick up money at the bank, talk to various government officers, and pick up packages!

The next day we left and caught a cantor (the name of the trucks here) to Solwezi. It was actually pretty perfect…it was already 13:00, and we were heading past the bus station to grab some meat pies for lunch and then to come back to look around for a cantor or mini bus or something going to Sol, and just as we were passing the bus station a cantor was pulling out with room on it heading to Solwezi! So we all piled in, me, Travis, John and his bike, and headed off.

We dropped off John and his bike in Samuteba, and then maybe fifteen minutes later picked up a giant load. A farmer was heading to Kisasa (a mining town around halfway between Mwini and Sol) with seven bags of cassava (probably 1x2x4 feet each) and five bags of charcoal to sell. So we filled up the little cantor and headed off! Now that it was full we could sink down into the holes between all the bags and take a nap. The sky was clear, the breeze from the moving truck was perfect.

We were almost at Kisasa, though, when the storm hit. It had been starting to get a bit cooler for a while, but around here seeing storm clouds doesn’t mean its going to storm on you, it very well could be passing nearby and never hit. It did hit, though, and hard. So we pulled over, and the drivers pulled some tarps over the load, and all the passengers hitching got out and hung out under an awning of a small shop by the side of the road. For a while. It was probably 15:30 by that point, maybe 16. When the storm had mostly passed we loaded up again, and sped out from under the cloud. It was pretty cool seeing the clear skies ahead and knowing that thats where we were heading!

At Kisasa we stopped to unload. Travis stayed on to help the guys unload the truck and I went searching for food. Cause we hadn’t gotten a chance to eat yet that day (remember, we were in search of food when we ran into the cantor and hopped on). I couldn’t find much savory, but did manage to buy some fritters and two bags of salted peanuts, which would tide us over. We were about to get back on the cantor when we ran into another volunteer! Turns out she was in a private vehicle hitching to Sol, too. Her drivers offered to take us, too, cause she was the only one in it (since it was a government cruiser and they don’t usually pick up hitches). That was nice, cause our cantor drivers gave us half our money back (25 kwacha each! Score!), and we got to ride in a car out of the wind, and a lot faster, too, the rest of the way.

So, in the end, we made it to Solwezi around 18. Most things were closed because of the funeral, but we did find a pizza place that was open, and a small liquor store, and so got some whiskey, a pizza, and fries, and made our way to the lodge. It was quite the day.