Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Coming Home

There is a new Pick'nPay in Kitwe.  That won't mean much to anyone reading this, unless they happen to live in Chingola and beyond!  But, it is a huge improvement for us.  The last three Saturdays, since getting the Trol back in good shape has found us shopping there.  We were able to enjoy pizza and ice cream this last visit.  And while we were eating, we met the owner/manager of these new stores.  He owns all the stores in Zambia, and this is the newest one.  His training team was there getting it all set up, including some finishing details in the decor.  While talking he mentioned that "Andy", the owner/manager of the Pick'nPay was seriously thinking about opening a Pick'nPay in Chingola.  We quite assured him it would be a great place to build.

Our local grocery store is Shoprite.  Both of these stores are South African, but the difference between them is stark.  For one, we always see staff cleaning the floors at the Pick'nPay.  After shopping at either store, hands are dirty.  However, after a Shoprite visit hands have to be scrubbed clean.  As a routine we wash or wipe off everything that comes from the stores (which I've mentioned in earlier posts)

The drive to Kitwe, however, is not fun!  It is downright dangerous at times.  Last Saturday I decided to take pictures as we returned home, close to Chingola.  Here are some of the sites along the way.

We know we are close to Chingola because of the huge granite boulders.  The first is on the right side of the road, and a bit further more on the left side.  Notice that grafitti has been painted out.

Before we get to town the road pavement disappears at the rail crossing. 

Everyone has slowed down, carefully trying to avoid the huge potholes in the dirt.  This is also a favorite place for young boys to try to sell pineapples.  We have never seen anyone buying here, but they keep trying.  I seriously doubt anyone would stop.  They would either be rear ended, or have to endure yells and honking horns to move them along.

This is the road just prior to the first roundabout.  Notice the pothole?  This part of the road is actually rather good.  As we get closer to the house, though, watch how it changes.

This is the first roundabout from this approach into town.  Below is pictured the main road, lined with trees.  What you can't see are the hacked off branches.  The trees were trimmed, using machetes, branches not undercut, so as they peeled away, they also peeled away substantial amounts of bark.  Heaven help anyone driving by, or walking while the trimming is taking place!

You will also notice that people walk on the road, not the sidewalk,  That is because "sidewalks" are deep ditches sometimes covered with a concrete slab.  (or not ... night time walking is ill advised)

Next is approaching the main roundabout for the business district.  Workers have been busy here doing repairs. That usually means plastic cones are randomly placed, messing with timid drivers.  Couple that with the fact that on any given day traffic on that lane approaching us can be backed up because of the gas station located on that side of the road.  As George Lopez says, this is a culture that loves to get into line.  Watch a line begin to form, and I swear that random people (or cars as the case may be) just have to, in fact need to, get into line.  Happens at ATM's and the grocery store!

The light blue vehicle on the left side is a taxi.  Properly registered taxis and buses are required to be this color of blue.  Occasionally we'll see a taxis sporting a color close, but not quite officially blue.

Some pictures as we drive past the business district.  Again, notice the people verses cars on the roadway.  Pedestrian crossings are more routine to us now.  Especially since we've mastered the concept of looking right, left, right!  Car do not yield to pedestrians.  And most pedestrians seem to have a death wish!  Caution all the time!!

The main street, Kwacha, where the Shoprite and many more businesses are located has gates on either side.  To park in this area costs 2 KMW, roughly the equivalent of $0.40.  

Proceeding down that same street, note the worsening potholes and road surface.
The yellow sign, Havmore, is one of the only restaurants we can walk to.  They serve an assortment of primarily Indian food, with a little Chinese and "Continental" thrown in for good measure.  By Chingola standards they are very, very good.  We'll see in a year.

Notice the blue taxi in the oncoming traffic lane.  That is because the driver is trying to avoid driving through the potholes.  However, the logic that it is better to drive into an approaching car, rather than slow down to navigate the road is one concept we have yet to grasp.

At the intersection where we turn there is the Nchanga Basic School on one corner, and the live theatre on the other.  Driving down 11th Street, there is a photo of some of the huge granite boulders in a yard.  More bad roadbed, more folks walking in the street, and an example of hedge trimming.  While we have seen lawn mowers, we have yet to see any power tools for trimming trees, or hedges.  Most of the time the grass is trimmed by swinging a machete back and forth along the grass.  

Almost home.  At the end of 11th Street is Consort.  This is much improved for roadbed, at least in the stretch we drive to get to Oppenheimer, our street.  This photo of the curb, pile of dirt and vegetation ... well, about a month ago a project started all along Consort.  It involved a man in good clothes spray painting the sidewalk area.  He was followed by 3 or 4 fellows in work clothes, who dug by hand a deep ditch, first tossing the dirt onto the road.  They then shoveled those piles back across the ditch and into the hedges.  We've looked into the ditches, and have no idea if it was really important, or just busy work.  Sure ruined the nice scenery on this road, though!

Finally, we arrived at our gate.  You can't see much because I was too slow snapping the photo.  The block wall forms a barrier, houses a guard house.  One of the guards is pictured behind the chainlink.  Another guard has raised the "gate" ... part of it can be seen in the lower right side of the photo.  It is a long, heavy pipe with a counterbalance.  They usually have it up before we finish rounding the bend onto the street.  Not only do we have a distinctive hair/skin color, but our vehicle is probably the only one with that particular color, and it is hard to not recognize the diesel engine.

Home at last!  The "8" sign was made by Tom using a plastic cutting board and a house number the kids brought over from Houston.  We hope it holds up to the elements.  The final photo is the front gate on the house.  Everywhere we turn there are gates, locks, bars, and it is all ugly.  Oh, well.  It is home, and now time to unload the groceries, wash them off and get it all put away.

Stay tuned for the next journey...  And fyi, as I've been editing, the sun has reemerged, and monkey are playing on the roof and garden.  One little fellow is just sitting and staring at me.  I'd get a photo, but know they will be gone before I get out the camera!

Practicing our Faith

Since experiencing a deep conversion, just prior the the birth of our oldest daughter (and sometimes to the annoyance of those we love) we have made attending Mass on Sunday a priority.  The priests we have friended along the way all hold special places in our hearts and prayers.

Our "home" parishes have been of a wide variety.  And when we are on vacation we have been at Mass in an array of spaces and places.  Since learning we were coming to Chingola we wondered what it would be like in Zambia.  The parish we consider "our home" is Saints Peter and Paul.

It is natural for local changes, reflecting the culture, to influence the practical application of liturgy in any Mass.  One of the reasons, as I understand it, for the tightening of the Mass rubrics, and establishing a normalized Mass (GIRM) was because some local changes had gone too far.  People who really do not have the proper authority were introducing "unique" features that detracted from the purpose of Mass.

I hope I have not bored you.  Now to the gist of why I started this post.  The Masses here have been interesting.  The "flavor" of the Mass definitely depends on which priest is presider.  Our favored priest is the rector at the Don Bosco School, a Salesian, and from Poland.

Some of the differences:
Penitential rite, all kneeling.
Gloria, all standing.  Usually the old version, not the new.
Offertory -- everyone processes forward to place their offering into a basket held by altar servers.
The Great Amen isn't.  It is a normal Amen.
Before the concluding Euchatistic prayer  all stand and sing a song of Thanksgiving.
Eucharistic concluding prayer .. we kneel.
Sometimes there is a second collection where we again process forward to deposit our gift.
Announcements (there are no bulletins) we sit.
Closing prayer and dismissal .. we kneel.
Closing song .. we stand and leave.

On major feast days there is only one English Mass, and one Bemba Mass.  That means we are squeezed in, and overflow from the building.  The offering procession is long, and includes bringing various food items forward, plus the bread/wine.  These take no less than 2 1/2 hours to execute.

There it is.  We are tempted, and sometimes fall for the temptation, to complain.  But, we remind ourselves that we have a Mass to attend, while it hard for us to understand, we remember that our Peruvian friends must have a  more difficult time.

Music is sometimes traditional, but usually it is accompanied by an electric keyboard complete with a strong disco type beat.  The singing is nasally, and quite harsh on the ears.  The acoustics are dreadful, which doesn't help when trying to understand what is being said.  The church is poorly constructed, benches are hard, flies always buzzing around, ventilation is open windows.  Most Zambians are not concerned about cleanliness (I've learned to breath shallowly in order not to notice, most of the time.)

I can go on and complain some more ... and I know it gets old.  But!!  Like I said, the Mass is the Mass.  It has a value far and above my petty observations.  There are a lot of things that feel "off."  But, we moved here, have no say in how things are done, and it will continue long after we leave.

Our best Sundays are those that make us the most uncomfortable, even though it doesn't feel that way.  It is truly a sacrifice to have to sit through poorly executed reading, homilies, heavily accented English, shrill singing, strong odors, stares from people, etc.  That is when we have to just accept, and be humbled.

When you come to visit, which I hope you can, we'll bring you along.  It is an experience you won't soon forget.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sunday Surprise!

On Sunday we drove out to a private lodge to enjoy lunch with some fellow expats.  They work at a different division of KCM and live in Chililabombwe, which sits right by the border with the DRC.  As we were leaving Chingola this herd of cattle was crossing the road.  Mary also took several pictures of the plant/mine where Tom works.

At this point we turned off the paved road and onto a dirt (mud) road.  After crossing several very narrow earthen bridges, winding further into the back country we arrived at the Nabona Estate.

It sits on the edge of the Kafue River, pictured below:

The grounds are well kept, and though the water was enticing we already knew that crocodiles are ever present.  A visitor from France had, in fact, blogged about this exact spot and said the owners had lost one of their dogs to a crocodile that took everyone by surprise.

Our host, Barry, had arranged for a Sunday luncheon with the owners.  It was so pleasant to sit at this lodge, enjoy good conversation, drinks and incredible food served buffet style.   We made several new friends, and have agreed that monthly gatherings are a must.  

Here is one of several Jack Russell terriers who live here.  They each afforded all of us the chance to satisfy the need to scratch and pet them.  Mary was happy.  Earlier in the day she was actually discussing with us the practicality of getting a dog here.

 The owners have farmed for over 10 years in this area and only a year ago decided to expand their guest lodging to include a restaurant/resort.  They have done an excellent job, given we now understand how hard it is to achieve anything here.  They were very gracious in opening for us and another small group.  

It is small pleasures like this that help turn a homesick heart around!


From the Animal Kingdom

Last Saturday morning I was surprised by a long, furry animal darting around our back patio.  By the time the camera was on and ready to shoot it had dashed down the walk.  Here is the best picture:

and a close-up:

Tom showed this picture at work and was told it was a member of the cat family, though the English name was unknown.  Also, that if known about, it would likely have been trapped, killed and eaten.    As I watched it appeared to be eating bugs from the garden and lawn.  I'm all for insectivores, so will remain silent with our household help.

Earlier in the week Mary and I could hear loud cawing.  There were ravens, huge ravens, on the back porch.  They moved as soon as they spied movement from us inside the house.  

Two weeks ago we had termites invade one of the planters surrounding the patio, right next to the house.  We knew malathion was the preferred treatment, but it wasn't in the local grocery store.  In the interim we poured in chlorine bleach.  It took care of the surface ones, but not further down.  Finally we had someone from KCM maintenance arrive.  He had a brass pump canister, paper face mask and rubber gloves.  The house is not sealed, so the odor invaded the front part of the house for the better part of the next two days.  The termites are no more, at least we hope so.  The tunnels were quite deep.

Late last week we saw a big male monkey rocket out of our yard when the lightening and thunder broke the peaceful calm.  There were no animals evident in the yard with the latest round of heavy rains.  Yesterday there was a close clap of thunder, quite frightening!  We have been through heavy rains but I must say that it doesn't just pour here, it looks like a fire hose propelling the water down.  We get days with brilliant blue skies and sunshine, and other like today with a general overcast.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

More ... Monkeys!

When we first got back to Chingola we didn't have any monkeys visiting.  In fact, I'm sure that Meghan, Peter and Kate thought we had made it all up.

But the day before the girls left the little rascals made their noisy appearance, this time out the bedroom side of the house ... Kate and Mary were watching and taking photos outside, while Meghan and I were entertained by two little monkeys jumping up onto the window ledge and peering inside.  There do not seem to be any of the large males in this troop.  Quite frankly, I am amazed that Kate managed to get the outside shots!  They are skittish little guys.

Kate and Mary managed to go outside for their photos.  This is the back corner of the house.

This is the one of the little guys that was on the window ledge.  The following one are from that same window looking toward our neighbor's yard.