This is a quote from "Hillel the Elder" from the first century. (I thought I was so original!)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

No Internet

This has been a grim month for internet connection.  The Copperbelt area and Malawi have had their troubles with the internet in our mission but I was thinking we were in pretty good shape here in Lusaka.  I was wrong again.  I went to the internet office (Zamtel) a few times a week this month to complain either about our house or the mission home's lack of internet.  I always ask for a phone number but I have yet to have anyone answer any telephone at the telephone company.   They said there was "mischief" in our areas but when I pressed them for details, nothing made sense.

At any rate, this is what I do when there is no internet and we have an hour or two at home.  I found two puzzles in town.  Not at toy, book or game stores, but at a grocery store.  So now I am putting together an Italian Tuscan painting scene one little piece at a time in the evening.  It is tough when the lights go dim at night to see the colors.

This makes our table a little constricted, but I did find a nice piece of cardboard for the extra pieces.   

Obviously,  I have not been able to post too many blog items this month.  I have wondered if anyone looked at my blog.  I made the blog public and it is a little restrictive as to what I can comment on.  I would sort of like to comment on what people I run into and what I really think about some issues or people, more like a personal journal, but then I would have to make it private.  Since I don't allow comments on the blog I am not certain what direction to take.

This puzzle activity is just one more indication that life as a senior missionary is sort of reminiscent of early marriage in a lot of ways.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Lusaka is full of ditches.  I suppose at some point I would call them gutters but they look more like an irrigation ditch at some places.

There has been a flurry of activity around the city cleaning out the ditches and making sure they are deeper.

It is really digging out ditches and not just cleaning them out.  It appears that the expected rain just fills them up with sediment.

This was the one and only time I have seen anything mechanical working on the ditch project.  Here a truck with a claw is picking up the dirt that the workers have piled along the side.

This crew was of mostly women.  They really had the dirt flying.

They weren't thrilled to have their photo taken.

Some neighborhoods have nice ditches.  They are mostly on the high elevations.  The sediment ends up down below.

There didn't seem to be much consistency in size.

Or depth.

It was just recently that it dawned on me that they aren't drainage ditches but just catch basins for water.

When the rainy season comes these guys will have to find another checker board spot.  There has been someone in this ditch for the last three months playing checkers.  Not always the same folks.

This might not seem too safe but it actually keeps kids off the road walking home.

A comfortable place to relax and talk on the phone.

This one is what most ditches look like away from the residential areas.

I am anxious for the rainy season and to watch and see if this debris is washed away to some downstream  location or if it just floats on down past the checker players.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Zambian Newspapers

I made my living selling newspapers.  It is a tough job because it is a volume business based on a small mark-up of product.  It is seven days a week, 365 days a year and if you have 100% customer satisfaction, you are just doing the minimum standard.  Ask anyone who worked for me, it was tough.  Ask my kids, and they will tell you all the aspects of growing up in that kind of business.  It did teach them all to work hard and they still do - for that I am proud.

I left home for college thinking I would never have to touch another newspaper again.  However, when my Dad decided to retire I took over his dealership and financially it turned out O.K.  It was an interesting time, watching the demise of newspapers for over thirty years.

Here in Zambia, I am fascinated with the newspaper business.  There are street hawkers everywhere.  They are on every corner.  They sell multiple publications and it must be worth their time.

Walking between traffic and selling when the light is red is common.

No matter how polite the sign is, the truth remains, newspaper people sell information.  If you get it without paying for it, it is a type of theft.

Of course checking out the headline and "above the fold" is the advertising teaser.
This fellow can chat and read at the same time.

Since the internet is still expensive and unreliable, and computer costs are out of the reach of most households, radio and newspapers are still the best source of news.

Depending on your political slant will determine which paper is your favorite.

People do take the time to be informed.

The journalism here is full of rumor and gossip and horrific occurrences.
A journalism class wouldn't be too impressed.

Most of the papers cost about 3 kwacha or $ .55 US.

I've noticed that most drivers pay with a 5 kwacha note or about $ .95 cents US.
This 2 kwacha tip is pretty good if you can sell enough.  Basic Zambia wage seems to be about 10 kwacha an hour, although that is if you live in Lusaka and can get an unskilled job.

Readers are everywhere in the morning, especially after a big government event or scandal.

Remember, this fellow isn't driving, he's the passenger.  Unlike US drivers reading in traffic.

This fellow is wearing the smock of someone who hawks "talk time" for cell phones.  He is taking a break for the latest news.  This act warms an old newspaper guy's heart.
Notice the old street sign he is leaning against.

I really admire the guys who hustle in the morning.  They have their regular customers, know what papers they want and know what tip to expect.

I wonder how long it will be before most Zambians get their news from the internet.
None of my five children subscribe to a newspaper.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Kafue National Park, Zambia

We got out early on a Saturday morning, we were on the road at 6 AM.  We headed due west with the rising sun behind us and had the goal of seeing part of Zambia's famous Kafue National Park.

I am very happy to not wear a tie.  It really doesn't matter where I am headed, as the culture here is so different from what I am familiar with that any road trip brings amazement to me.  This is along the main highway west and there are small family complexes all along the way.

I really do love trees and when the baobab trees start to show up along the road I have to stop and get a closer look.

Most homes are "whitewashed" with a lighter earth color on the top 80% of the walls but decorated with a darker color up a foot or two from the base, I suppose because the rain will splash the mud that high in a month or two.  This is the time of year the thatched roofs look pretty shabby and they are being replaced and readied for the rainy season.

This highway is called the Mumbwa Road as it goes to the town of Mumbwa.  We planned on topping off there so there wouldn't be an issue of petrol the rest of the day.  Well, these guys had the last diesel in town in five gallon "lelly cans".  Those J's, L's, and R's can be tricky.

We arrived at the gate after about three hours driving.

Below is the gate across the highway, the entrance to the fifth largest national park in the world.  That is Kristi standing off to the side by the sign.
The park supplies you with a guide for free and he is required to accompany you, but you are told that he will be missing his lunch, so if you compensated him for that it would all work out well.  The ranger suggested that 50 kwacha would cover "lunch".

Regan our guide was found and he headed for home where he changed into his uniform and flung his AK-47 over his shoulder.  Here he is coming out of his house ready to get in the back seat and make us feel safe and secure.  His main occupation is keeping his eye out for poachers.

Inside the park looked a lot like the outside but very few people.

Regan had us turn off the pavement and we were off on our hunt for wildlife.

Ah, my main wish was to see an elephant in the wild and viola' there in front of us is fresh elephant poop and I am all camera, steering wheel, and eyeballs.

My first glimpse was about 10 minutes later as Regan pointed to these huge black shapes moving through the trees.  No camera shot, but a thrill to see five or six huge shapes quietly moving through the  dry, thick stands of trees.  I wanted to follow but Regan said we would see many more.

The Kafue River runs through the park and it is much larger than I expected at this dry time of year.

Regan and Kristi posed for a photo at a camp where you can spend some time.

These yellow and green trees are prominent in the dry season.  
The yellow ones are called Mutendo trees.

I have always been fascinated with the termite mounds.  Some are as high as 10 or 12 feet but there are thousands of these smaller ones up to 3 feet high.  I asked if I could kick one over and stir them up.

The termites didn't swarm like I expected.  The mud is made up of the dirt and termite poop.  It is extremely hard and the inside is very neat and clean like a beehive would be.  These termites were very small.  They are smaller than our California house ants.


At one point, Regan had me stop and had us walk over a berm and behold the river was right there.  It was absolutely beautiful.  If we had been in California I would have been in the water.  It looked so invitingly cool and slow moving.  Lots of big smooth rocks to jump from and swim around.
What a surprise to find that a third of the "rocks" were hippos.

We clearly made them nervous and they made great bassoon-like noises.

I had heard that hippos kill more people than any other wildlife in Africa.  Regan said he was more afraid of elephants.

We couldn't get close enough to my thinking and Regan was getting very nervous when we wanted our photo taken near the water.  He kept warning us about crocodiles and was ready with his gun when Kristi wanted to test the water.

I could have spent the rest of the day there just watching hippos.
And maybe letting them watch me.

Lots of big birds around.

A few vultures.

And finally, my first real, wild elephants!
They just go wherever they want, eat leaves and bark and tree fibre.

More water bucks.

We looked around.

Below is a tree that an elephant had been chewing on recently.

Common Puku.

Some sort of grouse.

I found out this little guy is an African wattled plover.

We disturbed storks.

Found a small flock of Grey Crowned Cranes about 4 feet tall.

A hornbill of some sort.

Small water buffalo skull and salt and peppered crested chick.

Monkey with child. (below)
We also did see many baboons inside and outside the park.


More zebras.  I am always surprised how hard these animals are to pick up visually at first but eventually you get the hang of it.

Warthogs, apparently not pronounced with a hard "t" here.  Regan kept insisting "warth-og".


This bird was so colorful he really caught my attention

When flying, it is a truly Blue Bird.

He is called a Lilac Breasted Roller.

Some sort of black horn-bill

This guy had a red face like me when caught by someone with a camera.

There are a few folks who still live in the park and the government is slowly moving them out.
This gal has come to the road with her friends to sell fish to those who pass through.

Our guide, Regan, was happy to buy four bream for dinner that night.  They were a little ripe in the car.

Outside the park these women were firing the mud bricks.  They were slapping mud on the outside of the pile to keep the heat in while the fire burned inside.  They were almost done as we were heading home.  Mud pies and slap, another handful and slap.  We watched a while and it takes a bit of time to cover something with an inch of mud just using your hands.

This Mom was just watching the others work.

This Mom and son were crossing the main highway.

I showed this photo with the water info earlier but it fascinates me seeing the clothes washed and dried on the bushes.  I am a man, because clean clothes are not that important to me.  Maybe that is the essence of being male.  Do you think women really like clean clothes or do they like the process and community of washing? (or maybe the solitude, since men are not drawn to this task?)

I didn't see any men here either at bath time.

Ah, the men are out with the cows - just the quiet of hooves and new discoveries around the corner.

Yup, here are more men or boys happy to be on their way with a job to do.

We were hurrying home so to not drive in the dark, as it truly is dangerous.  
However, as I passed these baobab trees I had to stop again and take photos.

I just need some African animal silhouettes in the shot.

I guess I will have to go again and look for those along with lions, leopards, crocodiles and rhinos.