Today (Sat June 1) is our last day in Zambia – and I am feeling very mixed emotions. On the one hand, of course it feels good that I am going home and will get to see my family. And eat home cooked food. And have a warm shower whenever I want to. But, the people and the country of Zambia have a space in my heart that is growing and growing. God willing I will be back again next year to this wonderful country and its wonderful people and get to know them some more and learn more about them. We had several “lasts” today:
- The super running group of Jenn, Jordan and Kelsey did their last run: a 7-mile run
- A second less intense running group went for a 1-mile run/walk
- The yoga group had a final yoga session with Coach Anyea
- Hurrah – Jenn had hot water for her shower this morning! Strangely enough – I have been showering while she is out for her morning run, and only had one cold shower over the 2 weeks. However, when she has returned from her runs, she has had to endure several cold showers….
- We had our last breakfast at the Zebra Guest House dining room – with toast from the new toaster obtained yesterday! And some creative breakfasts being made by the students with the limited supplies!
- We checked out of our rooms at 10am with 2 rooms (ours and one other) assigned to us to use and keep all our luggage since our flight is late tonight. Several students brought their suitcases into our room and we had a good pile of them growing in the room! Then had our last de-briefing session in Zambia on the front patio of the lodge. The discussion included talk about our last day at Beit Cure and the farewell dinner
After the discussion we took our last group picture at the guesthouse and waited for Emmie.
Strangely, he came 40 minutes late, but we used that time to take pictures outside the lodge, as we climbed on the zebra two by two and posed. Jenn and I had to get a leg up onto the zebra with Kate’s help, but all the students were quite agile and got on easily! We also gave Mr. Kumwenda (Zebra Guest House owner/manager) our thank you card for the lodge staff and their tip – hoping that it gets to all the staff.
We also gave Emmie his thank you card and tip enclosed and he took us to the Arcades mall and we had our last lunch at the Mimosa Café – the same café where we had our first lunch on Sunday 2 weeks ago when we arrived in Lusaka. It was fitting that we had the very same waiter Isaiah! Then it was off to Kabwata Cultural Village where everyone shopped for souvenirs in the huts. Everyone was pleased with their improvement in bargaining and bartering over these past 2 weeks and came away with lots of gifts for friends and family members. Emmie sat in the shade watching over us like a mother hen – he has been so kind and wonderful to us. When I went and sat by him in the shade after my shopping, he said he had opened our card and was so extremely grateful to us! He remarked once again how good our group has been and said he would pray for the success of all the students. We sat for a while waiting for others to finish shopping and played with a few small children wandering there – wishing I knew the language to be able to talk to them!
Jenn had a great idea at the village: to buy all of us a beaded necklace. So we did and gave them to the students once we boarded the bus – they seemed to be pleased!
After everyone was done we went back to the lodge for our final hours there – everybody completed their final packing (and some relaxing) and we then left for dinner – again at Arcades – by 6:30pm.
We all ate at the Mint Café – the third dinner there for Jenn and me. Students also converted their extra kwacha back to dollars and then it was back to the lodge to pick up our luggage and depart for the airport. As we entered the lodge Clement, the chef and the first person who had greeted us at the lodge late that Sat night when we arrived two weeks back came up to me and asked me to follow him. I did so with some trepidation wondering what was up! I followed him to the dining room and he said that they had prepared something for us to eat before we depart! What a nice gesture! It was a pot with chicken, zucchini, pumpkin and kale. I told him that we had just returned from dinner, but several students took up the offer and tasted the food before we gathered up our luggage.
Mr. Abel Mbewe arrived with his van for the luggage and after that was loaded we got into the bus with Emmie for our last ride with him! He drove us to the airport and we said our final goodbye, giving him a hug. He has been our constant companion these past 2 weeks and an invaluable part of the program! Now we begin the long journey home, first with the flight to Amsterdam and then on to Chicago – a long time to think and reflect on the amazing experiences we have had these past 2 weeks.