The traditional fabrics are just that, traditional. But you will mostly find the poor and working class who wear them. The middle class women wear western clothes. There isn't really a class system as such compared to who used to rule them, the British, but there is, as expected, a hierarchy of tribes. The order changes depending on the regions as the majority tribe differs, but there are always jokes about those on the lowest rung. Even though cotton is grown in the country there isn't that much of a textile industry from what I'm told. Most that is made tends to be for export and little for the local market. For example -
During the recent elections at least one of the candidates had loads of the material printed and gave them away as a gimmick. But, each 'skirt' had their face on it several times. So you still see women walking along with them. As with saris in India there are various grades of the cloth depending on what you are wearing it for.
I do need to have a walk through one of the really local markets but I'm dubious there are cooked food stalls. The closest I have seen are at the side of the road little sorts of restaurants. Just one room with someone grilling meat outside and a few tables and chairs. My knowledge of this will develop in time though so it might change.
Yes, take it low and slow Mark. We don't want you rushed to hospital with some stomach bug or worse. The same goes for travel. Lots of research on safe routes is a must. There are so many 'gangs' of the worst kind just waiting for the unwary. Even supposedly 'Military or security personel' are bastards. We have a friend who did the entire 'Africa" thing some years back and left out certain areas of Africa. Carried their own medical equipment and slept in their tented vehicle.
I will elaborate on our current situation on 'Petty Personal Traumas'.
Thanks for the information, Mark. I've often thought that the social code of a country other than ones own is the hardest thing to crack.
You said you were familiar with Zambia before the decision to move there and made a powerpoint presentation for Mrs. Mark. Had you been to Zambia recently and if not, how much time did you have to do some research and make the decision?
I had not been to the country for quite a few years. The last time was in 2000. A country can change a lot in 16 years so I needed a little while to do some research. But I realised that there wasn't that much change to the 'atmosphere' of the country. It had had a depression and a few changes of leadership, but it seemed intrinsically little different. We did have several weeks if necessary to decide as initially it was not a firm offer but it could be later and did become one. Nevertheless just a few hours sat at my computer was enough because you might say, I knew where to look as the country wasn't unknown to me. The hardest part was trying to make a presentation out of all the information.
Wow, this is such interesting reading. And pictures make it even more enjoyable. I'm always interested in expat life and follow a few expats' blogs. Africa being my favorite continent, can't wait to read more.
It was Sunday so what do decent civilized people do? They have a lie in, go out for breakfast and then sometimes go for a bit of a walk to blow the cobwebs away. That's what we did.
Around the capital in the countryside are a number of Lodges that offer various incentives to visit and/or stay there. Some have walking paths, some offer day visits with use of the pool, many have off season rates to make them more attractive and so on. The one we decided to visit does all this and also has an elephant sanctuary. This time we didn't visit the sanctuary as I'll probably do that when my daughters come for Christmas. As they were growing up I convinced them that elephants were really called Efalumps. It wasn't until one of them had an embarrassing conversation with some friends when aged sixteen that they realised I was having them on for so many years. I had to apologise.
The lodge is about an hour's drive from the centre and has hectares of land that has been stocked with various animals. As there are no predators you can follow a few marked paths varying from 3km to 10km long. There is a 5km path we decided to take, just for the exercise more than anything, as I didn't really expect to spot anything and so I'd only taken my poor point and shoot camera. I'll have to borrows Tod's next time.
At the lodge you can stay in what they call chalets but the proper name is a rondavel -
After breakfast, which to be honest wasn't very good, we stretched our legs. Initially the walking paths start long the main track in for just a few hundred metres -
But soon divert off. I forgot to mention that before setting off you have to tell the reception which path you are taking, when you are setting off and what time you expect to be back. You must then 'check out' upon your return.
You can see the countryside is very dry as it is just the start of the wet season and everything is gasping for water. It would be good to return after the rains have finished to see the difference. The off season rates at these places are actually called 'Green Season' due to them being available when the rains come and everything blossoms and grows.
A few not very good pictures of what we did see -
Just to mention there is no zoom as such on this camera so we were able to get reasonably close to some things. Too far away though to capture anything of merit were also some giraffes and wildebeest. The latter I didn't want to get too close to anyway as they can turn nasty. I am hopeful I can do better when in a proper game park, but we'll see how that goes.
The problem often is identifying expats. You expect them to be white but it is not always the case. All I can say is when we were there I saw one obvious tourist family, one local white family who were there because you could go for the day and if you have a meal you can use the pool and facilities. I heard them saying they hadn't water or electrics at their home for the past two days and I think had come for a swim, wash, shower, hot meal and a break. I saw probably fifteen others who were black and if they were expats? I doubt it but don't know for sure. As we drove away we went past the raised platform where elephant viewing is done. You can view the baby ones and see them feeding and playing. It costs about 10 euro entrance and it was packed without a white face to be seen.
A note on an anomaly - something a bit strange and I have yet to find the reason. I have lived in three other countries without a stable electricity supply. Here it will go off for hours each day. I admit I am a poor tourist because what I tend to notice and what interests me about a country is not necessarily the big tourist things, though I will visit them, it is the small day to day and living there things. So the preamble is because, why does everyone have an electric cooker and not a gas one?
I can only put it down to there being no/little gas supply, imported or otherwise. If you go to a house goods shop there are rows of electric cookers and maybe one gas one. Unless you are one of the poor huddled masses you have a back up generator, but this usually isn't good enough to power a cooker. Just a few lights and a fan. You can get bottled gas but it is mostly found in the camping section of a shop and nearby, a single or two burner hob. For camping. I asked about refilling the bottles and they said you have to go to a place in the industrial estate who will do it. I am used to small trucks flying round containing refills (even in Spain) and you just stop one and change it. Not so here. You have to hunt to get one.
The choice for cooking seems only either to be electric or over a wood fire. That is why I presume there are oodles and oodles of microwaves for sale. Probably because you can still use them with a genny. Petrol costs 13.70 Kwacha a litre (Government controlled price). Roughly Euro 1.31, $1.39, £1.11 - so it isn't cheap and running a genny for any length of time, if needed it can be six to eight hours a day every day, would soon make a hole in your pocket.
I have seen various solar-powered lamps designed and produced by NGOs for use in countries with poor power supplies. Of course, it's only for lights but would leave a little extra for the generators for cooking.
But you are right that it doesn't make much sense to count on electricity for daily use when there are such problems with supply. And that gasoline (petrol) seems really expensive for a poor country. Not that most people can drive around, but if it's used for feeding generators it must indeed be a huge chunk out of a family's budget.
I think that electric cookers represent all that is wonderful and magical about the 'modern' world to a lot of Africans. On one of my seemingly endless trips to Cairo for a training course/seminar, the rare Europeans (actually it was just Frankfurt and Paris/me) who accepted to attend after some of the periodic troubles there were mixed this time with the Middle East/East African group. So there we were with Mogadishu, Nairobi, Khartoum, etc. While the Gulf contingent (Bahrain, Dubai, Muscat...) were all men, the Africans were all women (but their husbands were at the hotel with them). Anyway, most of the others were afraid of coming to Cairo, too, but they had no choice, unlike the Europeans who had job protection. I will never forget the young woman from Mogadishu (she was an unforgettable beauty anyway, with one of those diaphanous pink veils lightly caressing her head) who told us about her proudest possession -- an electric cooker. It was in the kitchen next to the wood stove. "I only use it when we have company," she explained. "Because the electricity uses an entire month's salary when I turn it on."
I think it wouldn't be difficult for most of sub-Saharan Africa to get gas from Algeria, Libya or the Middle East, but it just makes a flame like a wood fire, so it has no prestige.
Very interesting Mark - I see one of my monkeys made it all the way up to you The rondavels look well maintained and the surrounds are lovely.
What a pity your breakfast was not up to scratch. Cold plates, greasy eggs, floppy bacon, toast arriving just when you are more than halfway through your food...?? We view our enjoyment of food somewhat differently to the African way of life. Just today at lunch I once again was seated next to two young African ladies. Their lunch had arrived but they paid no attention to it whatsoever. They chatted and chatted - I ordered - they kept chatting totally ignoring their once hot food now very cool - my lunch came and we all seem to start eating together - they nibbled their way through the food, mine was only just hot so scoffed it down asap. They finished long after me and I could not help wondering why would they wait until the food was ruined. Last week the exact same thing. Two ladies looking down on their once hot lunch for ages before tucking in.
Not saying this was your breakfast problem but I do notice a distinct different way of enjoying a meal. I'm looking out for a Fever Tree....
Maybe they were being polite in waiting until you got yours? Probably not though. I'll have to keep my eye out for eating habits. The problem with my breakfast was just that even though the eggs were freshly cooked, the bacon and sausage seemed to be from sometime in the past few years. Fever trees - patience young lady. All will come in time. Possibly.
I'm guessing here, based on what I know about Mexico -- obviously I know nothing about Africa.
I think the preponderance of electrical appliances might be because the people who can afford them and possibly the gasoline to run the generator are also people who routinely have domestic workers. If indeed Zambia is similar to Mexico in some economic respects, those workers cook, clean, etc. in their own homes without electricity, so don't come to a dead halt when there is none. So, wealthier people have all the modern conveniences in their homes, yet the food that arrives on their table may have been cooked over a fire in the back yard.
I promise you I will get better at this video thing but for now I'll say it is a taster. One route through from where I am staying to the main area of the city where most work is through an area where the local workers live. There are worse areas which I will get to in time. I drove that way today using the dash cam I bought in Spain. Yes, the quality isn't so good and yes it is too low down and the windscreen is dirty, but as an idea of what the place is like, it'll be fine for now. The camera records in 3 minute segments and when next week I get settled in a more permanent place with better internet, I'll arrange to combine them. As it is you can have two for the price of one then. They do follow on.
You can see the time displayed and this is about the time when most workers are heading home. The video starts on the way into their area and the second video ends where the middle class homes begin.
That looks like a very new road and also as though it was laid on what was formerly a footpath which left more space in front of the houses. Are the very deep open culverts because there are sudden hard rains?
The first part of the 2nd video looks very much like some poorer neighborhoods around here. Later on, where you say the middle class houses begin, it looks more like what surrounds quite nice subdivisions in the US.
Very interesting video Mark. I am surprised by the deep rain water guttering alongside the road. Someone, somewhere made a great miscalculation of the depth. Unless....they intended closing them with paving so the people could at least walk safely. Could be another "leave it to the IN-expert municipality" where nobody really gets together to brainstorm ideas.
So much of your video is identical to down south. The road looks pretty good and I don't see any potholes. That is weird-a-ful in itself
He looks like he's gritting his teeth until it's all over. What you didn't see is that it has been chucking it down with rain most of the day and they've rushed out from the reception hall to try and grab a few decent photos.
The drainage culverts, or whatever you can call them, are all over the city. I don't think any are covered over and I doubt they were designed to be. I think they are so deep to 'future proof' them.
I have seen culverts like that in lots of places (even in the United States). I am not surprised by them at all, even though whenever possible the point is to cover them with cement slabs to prevent accidents and clogging.