When I finally woke up the morning of my first full day in Zambia, the littles had already left for school and the bigs had finished their homeschool work for the day.
I had some coffee and breakfast, and then Amy and the boys gave me a tour of the property. I marvelled at the lush greenery, the flowers blooming, and the ripe avocados dropping off the trees.
Amy took me to lunch at her favorite coffee place, Roast Cafe at Lifesong Lodge.
Then we went to the grocery store for a few things Amy needed. I recognized most of the products at Pick n Pay, and it helped that the labels and flyers were in English.
When the littles came home from school it was time to open the goodie suitcase. Canadian flavored chips, books, chocolate chips, maple syrup, and cranberry sauce, as well as a few Christmas surprises that got secreted away before the kids could see.
Saturday was a fun day with more new experiences, starting with a pedicure courtesy of Ada.
That morning was the annual pancake breakfast celebrating the graduating seniors at Central Africa Baptist University, where Ben is the Dean of Bible. It was fun to meet new people and see the kids enjoy playing with their friends. Well, the littles played. The big kids had been up since 5:30 am to help cook the eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes that needed to be ready to serve by 8:00. One of them cracked 17 trays of eggs, the other flipped pancakes on the griddle until his spatula wore out.
That afternoon Amy and I went to the street market. I wanted to find gifts to take home, and I wanted chitenge – a specific type of printed cotton that the women tie around their waist and wear as a skirt over whatever else they are wearing. A chitenge is not simply a fashion statement, although the statement it makes is one of respect – respect given and expected. It can also be used as a carrying pouch or tied on to carry a baby on the back. Amy once saw a woman walking along the street with her chitenge on her head, coiled into a nest holding a few live chickens. The fabrics are gorgeous – it’s hard to choose only a few!
Before we left Amy loaned me one of her chitenges. She showed me how to wrap it around my waist, and then we were off to pick up her friend Gwen, who was going with us as a measure of protection, and also to help us barter with the vendors.
I have no pictures of the market because taking pictures of everything I saw would mark me as a tourist and people would take advantage and try to scam me, or worse. You can see images of the market here.
The market was crowded and noisy and smelly – a true sensory overload in every sense of the word. Across the street from small retail stores, the market stalls were dimly lit, cobbled together out of what appeared to be scrap lumber. There was an actual road between the stores and the market stalls, but it was crammed with vendors who laid out their wares on big tarps on the ground.
Everything you can think of was for sale. Clothing, shoes, hair care and beauty products were on display next to baskets of live chickens and dried caterpillars. One vendor was selling goat legs, the hooves sticking up from a large basket. At the base of that basket were the dismembered heads. That was a new one even for Amy.
The street market is not a safe place to go alone, certainly not for a white woman. Amy rarely goes unless she has a visitor who wants to see it. Even though she lives there, sellers see her and assume she is a tourist like me, even though we were both wearing chitenges. Men followed her and made rude remarks or offered marriage proposals. They left me alone, probably because I am clearly beyond the age of fertility.
We walked quickly and purposefully, not lingering in the street. Amy was worried about keeping me safe, and tried to keep me in the middle between her and Gwen. I was more worried about her, and took her arm in mine as we walked. The kids had begged to come with us – it was clear to see why Amy denied their request. It is no place for children. At the very least the vendors would approach them to distract us, making us vulnerable to theft. Or give them things to hold, then demand payment because they are already holding the item.
There are honest vendors however, and Gwen knew where to find them. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and found some delightful things that I hope my family will love. I also bought a couple chitenges, but those are for me!
After our exotic shopping trip we dropped Gwen off at her home, then headed back to the house to shower and rest. I had been fighting my jet lag and needed a toes-up before supper. Then it was an early bedtime for me because the next day was Zambian church!