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!

1 comment:

  1. Shoprite is never and has never been a good store, it used to be called Checkers and still is in SA.

    This last post brought back some good memories. we used to live at 45 Acacia Str, Kabundi, Lord knows what it is called now. Before that we were in Muf, I left when I was 12 in 1967, but had the pleasure of growing up there from 5. Never forgotten it.

    Although the deterioration is bad, the blacks just cannot administrate, look after money or stop corruption, you must take your security seriously, but at least the Bemba is not known for killing or hi-jacking. Zambia and Malawi I think are now the only countries in Africa that have never had a war and that in this violent continent is a blessing and quite remarkable.