Holy Cow, what a day! Truly after today I feel as if I have experienced Zambian culture at it’s best, haha.
It all began when we pulled in to the bus station. Now, this bus station is not the same type of station where all the little blue busses congregate, but rather where the large (long distance) busses are. We (Humphry (Zambian EOH staff member), Paul, Katie, Jess, Mary Leslie, and me) were all riding in EOH’s big SUV, when almost the split second we pulled in, many Zambian men “pounced” on the car. Literally, men were everywhere- faces up to the windows, shouting through cracks- pounding on the doors. Muffled voices yelling “Mzungu” “Come” “Madaam” - men arguing over whose bus we would get on. This is all still before we even stepped foot outside of the SUV.
I was in the middle of the back seat. We opened the doors. Humphrey had insisted that we stay close to him, and not talk to any of them. I stepped out. Four men instantly surrounded me - shouting all sorts of things, all pointing at their busses. I attempted to make my way to the trunk of our SUV and I grabbed my bags. Humphrey soon yelled, “Sophie, come here!” (I think my extremely white hair adds to the insanity just a tad) Although it was quite lovely that Humphrey was looking out for me, ha, all the men soon began yelling, “Sophie, come with me.” “Sophie, your hand?” “Sophie, where are you going? “Sophie, I take you…” The list goes on.
Finally after about 10 minutes of that, Mary Leslie and I had gotten on our bus. We sat down, almost in a state of disbelief, sighed and just began to laugh. (Might I add one word - we began to laugh HYSTERICALLY)
The bus ride- oh another whole new experience. Not at all like the mini bus transportation- just as crazy though. I’m pretty sure that I had hmmm, maybe 1 square foot of space- (okay a little more than that) but it was me, my seat, my bag in my lap, Mary Leslie on one side, and another woman on my other side. Legs touching, arms touching- the whole nine yards. So ahead of us we had a 5 ½ hour trip - it was hot. Zambian soap operas, Beyonce Wannabe home videos, and ridiculous African Adventure movies played on the screens. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better-
We made a stop in some village and before people could even get off at their stop, people (men mainly) had already gotten on the bus, trying to sell us things in the aisles. Let me just give you a glimpse of the variety; from chips and pop to hair combs and mirrors. From chocolate ice cream treats and popsicles to giant sticks of Zambeef jerky. This was another one of those moments where Mary Leslie and I just looked at each other and laughed, thinking that this could not actually be happening.
After a long, hot 5 ½ hours, we had finally reached Kitwe. If I can be 100% completely honest with you, Id say that no matter what words I scribble next- they will not even come remotely close to this crazy reality.
African busses have tinted windows. Somehow though- people outside have the ability to see the only 2 mzungus (white people) in the place through these windows. Imagine- an enormous mob now raging outside of bus- Mary Leslie and me with our bags, attempting to get off - oohh goodness, something you almost just have to witness.
Every single inch of room I may have just had- GONE. It is something like a trap I swear. A collapse of the entire city. Luckily Mary Leslie and I had spotted Auntie Susan and Trudy (Kitwe OVCCs) before getting off the bus, so they shoved their way to reach us. It was hilarious. Men screaming “Come with me!” “Taxi!” “Here, Madaam, Come!” “I will take you!” Just so you know, Auntie Susan takes none of this. Let’s just say I’m glad she was on our side! After escaping the mob, which seemed like forever, Trudy and Auntie Susan told us that the bus ahead of ours had a famous African Actor on it. He was hanging out of the window and so tons of people were there to see him. That’s why this tiny little Kitwe station, was so crazy.
I wish I would have had a video camera.
You’d enjoy a little glimpse of Zambia when a few movie stars and some mzungus come to town