Chingola May 19th - May 20th - Monkeying around!
After the lengthy drama that unfolded on the trip to Chingola, we were all a little fatigued but determined to soldier on and enjoy the delights Chingola had to offer.Chingola is a mining town, specifically copper mining. The main mine named KCM employs over half the population of the town, Silver's sister Chansa included. Whilst the mine is quite vast in size, the town in comparison is rather small containing two main streets with the usual local amenities.
Our first day started with a fruitless trip to a local travel agent to organise for Scott and I to fly to the most notorious of safari lodges in all of Zambia, mainly due to the fact that the prices of the flights were extortionate. We then had a quick trip to the internet café to sort out a few things and touch in with home, before setting off on an exploration to find the local football stadium.
Chingola 's local side is named Nchanga Rangers, they play in blue and yellow, and they currently sit joint first in the Zambian equivalent of the premier league. We set about trying to find the stadium in order to familiarize ourselves with the surroundings before ultimately attending a game. Silver and his "natural inbuilt compass" found the stadium with relative ease however the car park was more elusive due to a one-way road system. After circling the stadium and asking a few locals we eventually found the car park. Along the way a small group of children were delighted to see a couple of "Muszungus" driving down their road and duly we got the finger pointed calls and laughter.
As we exited the car to enter the stands we met a very small crowd of people, maybe 25 or so, viewing what appeared to be two sets of players going through a training warm-up, with the youth side doing laps of the pitch in the blazing hot sun, barefooted! We sat in the stands and observed for a few minutes before the two teams converged in the middle of the pitch then set up for a game. It turned out one side were in fact the rangers senior side, whilst the other was a local third division side. Our timing was impeccable and we were about to watch a friendly game, which the equivalent in England would be Manchester United versus Leeds! We joked of impersonating European scouts on the stands whilst the game commenced. The heat was intense, and the pitch was dry and bumpy yet to their credit and in true African tradition both teams got the ball down and played some entertaining stuff with Nchanga ending up 3-1 victors.
Feeling upbeat after viewing the football we entered the local supermarket "Shoprite" where we picked up some food. Chansa's apartment has a balcony at the back where there was a BBQ which we found to hard to resist. We proceeded to prepare and cook the food. Scott took most responsibility for cooking the meat whilst Silver and I were in charge of alcohol distribution and general helping out. As it happens Chansa had some workmates who had been buying some of the goods we brought into the country and were about to leave as the food was ready to eat so we invited them to join us which they (probably reluctantly) did! The food went down ok and nobody became sick so we regarded it as a success. A few more beers later and we were ready for bed!
The next day we planned to go directly to Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Orphanage which was supposedly according to the police man at the checkpoint just out of town 13km away - wrong. The three of us plus NoNo, one of the girls that joined us for dinner the previous evening, set off in our borrowed car for what we thought would be a 30 minute drive. 40 minutes later we were still driving aimlessly down a long, straight, and quiet road, passing numerous pedestrians along the way. I find it amazing just how many people in Zambia, and apparently Africa walk everywhere! Most places we have been, no matter the weather, terrain or luggage they may be carrying the roads are lined with people doing their journeys by foot. Something we will all come to remember when we return home and are stuck in traffic on the commute to work! Eventually with the assistance of an elderly couple, we found a sign which directed us off the road and down a dirt track and informing us that the chimpanzee orphanage was still 15km away. Onwards Silver drove, on roads similar to the roads we encountered in rural areas of Lusaka in Webster's old green manual geared Subaru for what seemed like an age! We passed a small lake, went over speed bumps, squeezed through tight roads all the while not encountering another living soul. If we'd have broken down at any point along that road it could have been an awful long time before we would be able to ask anybody for help, especially as phone signal was little to none in this area. Praise must go to Silver's driving as eventually after persisting on our route which turned out to be exponentially bigger than we first presumed we reached the gate to the orphanage where a man greeted us with a clipboard and directed us where to go.
After signing in and paying a small fee we drove again, although by no means as far, to the various enclosures where the chimpanzees were kept. In total we visited 4 enclosures each contained a vast area of land ranging from 200-500 hectares surrounded by electrical fences, and a main building where the chimps reside and this is also where they are fed. The workers there said the chimps go through 2 tons of food a week, mostly a variety of fruits and vegetables. The chimps there range in age and are separated into different social groups. Many of the chimps were rescued and brought to Chimfunshi from all over the world. We met chimps that have had alcohol and nicotine dependencies developed from individuals keeping them as pets or circus acts, others had been hunted for meat, or just abused or fell ill. On our visit we saw a family of chimps which were in a special pen due to their constant misbehaviour of trying to escape the electrical fence with little or no fear. Apparently when this happens it can be a nightmare trying to get them back into their original surroundings, the process usually involves bribing the chimps with sweet foods such as honey a favourite among the chimps we were told. We then moved on to another enclosure which was surrounded by American primatologists. Apparently they come from a University where they send groups of students to observe the chimps for a period of 12 hours a day for 3 weeks - intense! At this enclosure the chimps had unfortunately fell sick, and were producing a flemmy cough similar to what a sick human would. Many of the chimps were reluctant to take their medication which was a worry for the workers as only as recent as the day before one sick chimp went out into the grounds and did not return and was found dead. Those reluctant to take their medication were given it by crushing the pills up and mixing it again with honey.
The chimps on the whole were very playful and the main supervisor called Innocent has agreed to let Scott and I stay at his house at the orphanage for the next few days, whilst Silver continues to visit family. Hopefully we'll get a more hands on experience whilst working alongside Innocent and I'm looking forward to seeing what volunteering work has in store.
Lots of Love,
DC, Silver, and Scotty dogg xxx