I landed in Lusaka after flying for what felt like a lifetime. Actually, the final flight (from Dubai to Lusaka) felt like a lifetime. The endless travelling was certainly worth it.
The plane from Glasgow was lovely and an added bonus we were given free booze. Result!
Now, I am not much of a traveller and you can count on a couple of fingers all the abroad (european) places I had visited. I tend to fly with budget airliners so the surprise being offered inflight meals and refreshments was something completely new to me. Up until now I had never really enjoyed flying, I guess I still don’t – but thankfully my experience flying with Emirates made me less worried and stressed about it. It must have been the complimentary beer, eh?
When I arrived in Lusaka it was like I had landed in the desert, I peered through the cabin window and I could see sand and dust. It looked boiling! As I slowly disembarked the aircraft it was like a wave of heat passing through your body every cm closer to the cabin door.
“Wow, this is Zambia’ I thought “I’m actually here”.
This trip to Zambia had been on the cards for a while after Bolt FM (St Paul’s Youth Forum) secured funding to link up with another Commonwealth country. Let me give you a bit more information about Bolt FM – Bolt is a youth-led community radio based in the North East of Glasgow that provides media opportunities and training for young people across different community venues in the city. I don’t think I had ever heard of Zambia before the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and through the Opening Ceremony of the games I was thinking it was pretty cool I was purchasing equipment to ship over there to replicate some of the success we have achieved through young people using radio. Let alone ever getting to visit!
Anyway, where was I? (Oh incase you’re wondering I do get distracted mid-conversation!)
Yeah, so here I am in Lusaka waiting in customs. Anything to declare? Erm, no! (Just a radio studio!) (I failed to mention that I had a radio studio in my luggage). As I was walking out past customs a guard approached me and stopped me and inspected the label on my bag, I had to show him my passport to confirm the bag belong to me – I was shitting myself. I thought I had been rumbled. After he was convinced the bag belong to me he let me continue on my way. Also you will never guess how much I had to pay to enter the country, $50 – that’s crazy! Not to mention I *have* to pay to leave.
When I finally got through customs (it took 40minutes), actually on reflection I guess Lusaka airport is like the Glasgow Prestwick Airport of Zambia, well that’s certainly the impression I got. I had arranged for someone from my Backpackers to pick me up, there he was waiting patiently for my arrival a man called John. Oh and he’s got a board with my name on it – just like the movies!
John is a taxi driver and a massive Chelsea FC fan (apparently most people are here!) – he didn’t hide it well – he has several large stickers that are proudly displayed on his windscreen. I would love to know how he actually sees the road ahead!
Now, I have to be honest. This was a funny journey. Picture the scene: I have been awake now since 9am (UK time) on Monday – I am shattered. Actually, a girl I spoke to (she’s from Cape Town, South Africa although sounds more like an Australian) thought I was “high” as I was slumped over a barstool. Lol! I’ve certainly has worse things said!
So yeah, the journey from the airport was fun. I have never been in so many near misses in my life. It reminds me of footage you see of Deli of all the cars struggling through traffic and beeping their horns just for the banter. I have actually enquired about the driving test here – apparently it is “easy” and the majority of people drive automatics.
My trusty driver had shown me my first flavour of Africa. Here, 3pm (their time) hearing expletive versions of tracks on the radio is certainly something! Also the radio commercials they play are great. Everyone, sorry, businesses only have Yahoo or Gmail accounts – including the local butcher!
Anyway, where I was going was at least 30minutes away from the airport and we were flying (sorry!) And guess what happened? My driver John was pulled over and given a speeding ticket (I’m not sure what the going rate is for a fine in Zambia but he certainly wasn’t happy!) Poor guy. And what did he get in return from me? 20 bucks (dollars). Dollar is king here, however, they have their own currency here called Kwacha. I’m very confused with the exchange rate, you get a lot of Kwacha for your pound anyway. I find the whole situation with money here strange, their currency is the worst performing currency in the world and many ‘tourist’ places want payment in dollars instead of Kwacha. It certainly makes you think about the governments own faith in the currency when they are asking you to pay for your Visa in dollars.
My accommodation tonight is great, it doesn’t feel like I am in the middle of a capital city but a resort on a fancy island in the middle of nowhere. The man on the desk? Yes, you guested it – he is called John. Honestly, this place is great, pool and a really cheap bar. It’s 5k a beer which which (currently) works out around 33p, amazing! I have never heard of Castle Beer before but its cold and refreshing.
The whole world was at the bar and even someone from Liverpool – I can’t go anywhere. Anyway, he had a really interesting journey he had bought a car in Liverpool and had it shipped to Tanzania. When the car finally completed its journey to Tanzania he flew over here to pick it up and spent the past four days driving to Zambia – hat’s off! Oh and he’s hoping to sell it here too.
And that’s it – Welcome to Zambia!
(This post doesn’t really have an ending apart from drinking so many beers I don’t remember climbing into my bed!)
Oh and end on a high? I’ve had the shits since I landed, I literally have water falling out of me.
Catch you tomorrow for Day 2!