Arrival at Lusaka was on time after an uneventful flight from Dubai. A beautiful sunny day in Lusaka as always, though there were a few powder puff clouds in the blue sky.
William and Abel were at the airport, which was exceedingly crowded – VERY unusual. We learned from Abel that about 4000 delegates are arriving for the African Development Bank (AfDB) group convention at the Mulungushi Convention Centre. There was a group dancing in a traditional Zambian welcome to the delegates! So – we actually were in a traffic jam for a while getting out of the airport!
But William’s superior driving skills helped him maneuver the bus out and we got to Zebra Guest House. Met Carol and Elise and got our rooms and then immediately turned around and got in the bus again: dropped of 5 students at the St. Ignatius Church for the 5pm service and the rest of us went to Arcades Mall. First stop: money exchange: and there was a line there as well! One man behind us was impatient and asked us to consolidate so that we each did not have to spend time at the counter. This is unusual because Zambians tend to be very calm and laid back…..I wonder if he was not Zambian? Eventually he asked the gentleman in front of us if he would exchange the money for him. He was extremely polite (more typical of my encounters with Zambians!) and asked us if it was OK for him to get the money for the other gentleman.
While the students wandered through the Sunday market we spent time in another long line getting our local phone SIM cards and Internet plans – took a LONG time. After that we did the grocery shopping and left the mall a little after 7pm. Thanks to the team for taking the initiative to not only take the groceries to the bus, but load them in and unload them at the Guest House! Good team work!
Our welcome dinner was at 7:45 and we met three new staff (Damiano from the previous two years is gone). We had our dinner – simple Zambian fare of rice (unfortunately no nshima), beans and carrots, cabbage, potatoes, tomato gravy and chicken.
Then we had our first pow-wow of this program and discussed the day tomorrow and the students shared their initial observations…..
- At church, they noticed being “in the minority” as the only white people in church – but yet they felt it was welcoming and did not feel uncomfortable, except when they were asked to stand up and be recognized as the visitors
- They noticed people staring at us – but we are a group of 12 mostly white people in Zambia, so this is not unusual. Despite the staring, their encounters were friendly and they even waved back and forth
- Some students bartered at the market, others paid the full price asked because they felt uncomfortable bartering…
- Some felt Dubai was less culturally different from the US, but others noted that they felt more of a culture shock in Dubai because they saw many Arabs in traditional attire
All in all, some very good observations for our first day here!
Finally, we packed our lunches and called it a day!