Although we are only into the fourth day of what will be an epic 5 and a half weeks - I'd been over the moon with the insight and experience I've gathered already. Although the days seem to be getting cooler and cooler (and it's strange to hear, but I'm wearing a woolyhat and hoody...in Africa) things seem to be getting more surreal.
Yesterday was absolutely amazing. We got a bus from our house to Chilingalinga to visit one of the Netball teams that Noami coaches every week during her time out here. Their opponents had failed to show so a game was on between the merzonger voluteers and the best Chilingalinga had to offer. Although we looked to be plain sailing at 3-1 at half time, a strong comeback from the home side saw them take a lot of pride and excitement away from the game. They played very well. All the community rocked up to witness the event as they do every week. We stuck around to talk to the locals and there was a lot of hand shakes and photos. Everyone is very welcoming and so friendly.
We then hopped back onto the bus and headed out on a 2 hour trip to a place whose name i've forgotten the name of. However, it was a very long ride but the spirit was high and there was some good team bonding with games, songs and jokes. We were heading out there to watch a basketball tournament which had been set up by one of the NGOs us voluteers were fullfilling placements for, Sport In Action.
On the way, we stopped to get some petrol and we all got out for some snacks and a few suprises as whilst on my way back to the bus I noticed one of the lads Charles in a bit of a bother. On our first day in Zambia, we were told it was pretty much acceptable to go to the toilet anywhere - however, apparently not against the side of a security guard's hut - who had found him and consequently threatened to pay either 500,000 kwata or go to jail. Oh and he said all this whilst stroking a rifle. Our two staff members Noami and Rona manged to blag him free by preending to phone the British Embassy and assuring him that everyone in Britain goes to the toilet anywhere they want and Charles was just naive. Eventually it worked and we were back on the road, however, it was all rather farcial but potentially was very serious! It definately went in Gabby's fine book which holds all the team's embarrassing moments for which they will pay come a drinking night!
We got to the site of the tournement. Some of the talent on show was very good and it was a very strong and tight competition. The night before we had heard a catchy song in a traditional Zambian restaruant which we had been the Zambian number 1 'Well Well Well' by 'Danny Crazy' who is apparently the hottest thing in Zambia right now. Anyway, after the games, he appeared and played a couple of songs. It was brilliant and so strange from what we would expect from a national star in brilliant. All the kids were loving it and he performed on the basketball court where the children just naturally formed a line from where they couldn't go further. He had 3 backing dancers who were very very good and some of the crowd got over excited at times and couldn't resist going onto the stage and start dirty dancing with the stars! One particular lady was then wrestled to the ground and humped by one of the dancers - it was hilarious. Danny Crazy then got a little boy out of the audience to dance and the kid was tipped by members of the audience. One of group, Rachael then got up to tip the lad and was then practically stolen by Danny Crazy who she danced with on the court for a bit! The locals also loved the merzongers attempting to dance!
After his performance we headed off and went to fill up with petrol for the trip back when who did we come across? Danny Crazy! He was only to happy to detach himself from some groupies and meet and greet and then have his photo taken AND then invite us all to star in his music video next thursday! Unfortunately though, we will be in Livingstone on Thursday. It was such a random day - I've got some awesome pictures! It was Crazy - a poor pun intended!
We came back and had tuna and pasta and played Spoons and Uno for a good few hours to round up what had been an amazing day.
Today was slightly less eventful but still an amazing insight. We came out to the markets at Arcade, which is a mall type area where many of the more wealthy Zambians and merzongers hang out. It's got your usual cinema with all the latest releases, music shops, book stores and places to eat. The big shop out here is the Spar!
The markets were certainly different. Everyone is selling fairly similar products, but you can be assured they are all lying about it's originals and are just desperate for a sale. I bought some Zambian shorts, a couple of necklasses and some traditional bracelet things. We then went to a slightly more authentic and true to Zambia market where we are almost mobbed as soon as your monzongen face appears - you've got to be careful to watch your pockets but although you know many of the locals have alternative motives for being so friendly - they are still very welcoming and will shake your hand and ask you about where you live etc.
I'm getting used to everyone staring at you for being a merzonger. Apparently a merzonger isn't just a white person, but could be used to describe someone who is simply westernised and wears European or American clothes.
Tomorrow we are getting on the back of a truck and checking out all the compounds the group will be going to on their placements. The trip is around 3 hours.
Zambia is brilliant ! Will have some photos to show you all soon !