May 24th -May 25th The long road home!
We awoke from Chimfunshi at 5am to be ready for 6am the pickup time previously agreed with Silver a few days previous before Scott and I set off into the bush where signal was non existent. True to form Silver arrived on African time around 8.30am! We hopped in and caught up swapping stories of the weekends. Turned out Silver had been driving, visiting and going out all over the copper belt region of Zambia and as a result was completely knackered. Scott and I, although less busy, were also feeling jaded and as a result on the way home it was decided that we would begrudgingly veto a prearranged trip to the Nchanga copper mine located in Chingola. In hindsight I regret this decision but the three of us were so tired at the time! We opted instead for a lazy day. Silver dropped Scott and I off at another internet café to get reacquainted with the internet whilst he took the car off to be cleaned, and afterwards he tried to find a replacement spotlight which had come off worse after a parking incident involving a sloping parking area and a high curb! This constituted most of the days activities with the exception a lovely meal cooked by our newly adopted Aunty Chansa, drinking Mosi beer/Hunter's Dry cider, watching a below par England victory in a friendly with Mexico we managed to find on the television, and a half hearted game of poker which finished the days events.
The following day we were due to complete the return leg of the previous nightmare trip from Lusaka to Chingola via our least favourite destination so far Kitwe. This time however we had decided to avoid the public bus and rather get a lift from Kitwe back to Lusaka with another of Silver's cousins named Mwabe. Two more things I have learnt since being in Zambia: firstly never underestimate how deep and far a reach Silver Mulenga's network of connections go, and secondly if you need a lift or a car to go somewhere…just ask! People here loan cars to one another like people in the UK would lend a pen to a friend. Silver, Chansa, Scott and I arrived outside the before visited office in Kitwe in our loaned Subaru where we meet up withl Webster and Mwabe who arrived in a work owned pickup truck. Mwabe informed us that he was still ok to give us the 5 hour long lift back to Lusaka but firstly he had to find out where his car was! Silver had informed us previously that Mwabe was a party man and liked to drink and drink often so this scene wasn't overwhelmingly surprising and quite amusing to see him making calls around. Whilst Mwabe went off to discover his cars whereabouts the three of us accompanied Webster back to his house in the residential suburb of Riverside. Here we were unexpectedly treated to a lunch of Nshima and roast chicken, before taking photos in the garden with Webster his children and the newly returned Mwabe - car and all. We gave our thanks, loaded up the car and departed. We went by Mwabe's place picking up one of his cousins who was to accompany us on our trip to Lusaka, and to a filling station (which are located roughly every 100 metres in the more substantial towns) before disembarking.
The trip was relatively uneventful however I was educated in a few, and believe me there are only a few, of the Zambian road rules of which I will list below:
1.The state of your vehicle does not matter; if it is drivable it is passable.
2.Storage space is not a limitation but a challenge.
3.Seat belts are essential for passengers in the front only when arriving at a police checkpoint.
4.If you drive a truck/lorry/bus make sure you have bribe money for the police at checkpoints regardless if you are doing anything illegal or not.
5.If your vehicle contains tourists it is usually a free pass at checkpoints.
6.Indicators are made for communication at all times, mostly regarding overtaking.
7.Finally, whichever car is bigger has right of way!
Thankfully our trip was pretty incident free until 7.30pm when we arrived just outside Lusaka at the main checkpoint for the city just after dark. We were instructed by one of the on duty officers to park on the side of the road. He then asked to see in the boot of the car where we had overloaded due to 3 backpacks and a couple of suitcases. He asked everyone to get out of the car and we did and he seemed a little surprised to see Scot and I but he continued to pull Mwabe the driver over to one side. After a brief chat in private we were told we were to be given only a warning this time and it was ok to get back into the vehicle. Mwabe once driving away told us of how the policeman had asked for a bribe after initially threatening to impound the car, the bribe being a pair of batteries for his flashlight. Mwabe quite understandably told the officer he had no batteries and asked for his phone number so he could call up when returning back to Kitwe and give him the batteries, the policeman said he didn't have a number and the situation resolved itself. It seems common practice for policemen to make money on the side, surprisingly off the locals, not the tourists. We got back to the farm around 9pm and we soon crashed out.
I must thank firstly Webster who was kind enough to donate his car to us for the week. Without his generosity we would have been rather limited in our exploits and definitely couldn't have had as much fun as we did. Furthermore I very much enjoyed his hospitality at his home, the guy reminded me of a gentle giant and relative to everyone else we have met so far he is a giant. He will live long in the memory particularly for his help at the bus station. Secondly I'd like to thank Chansa, Silver's eldest sister. Throughout our trip to Chingola Chansa looked after us, as much as she'd hate to admit it playing the mother role hence being named Aunty Chansa. It was good to spend a substantial amount of time with one of Silver's siblings and getting to know her well. Silver told us that he learnt his stubborn ways through Chansa and when the two argued it was clear to see where he was coming from! Although she is a very busy girl, with lots of work hopefully we will get to meet up again before the end of the trip as she has been trying to take us out from the moment we arrived. Our visit to Chingola was a very enjoyable experience. I didn't know what to expect when travelling up to the copper belt and I was left pleasantly surprised. All the people we met (bar the individuals at the bus stop) were extremely friendly, and we were left with lots of things to do and see. The only regret I have is that we ran out of time so couldn't stay longer!
Lots of Love,
Daniel, Juju, Scott xxx