If you are just now joining us for this fun blog series, you'll want to start HERE at the very beginning of The Very Beginning.
We wake up early to the sounds of screams and giggles of the kids running through the house. I think we’ve missed breakfast, so we dive back into the Clif bar stash. I never knew that mushy brown bars could be so life-giving.
Afternoons in cold season may feel warm with the bright sun, but mornings are cold. Like shivering cold. Houses don’t have insulation; so all-night we felt the chilly wind whip through the glass slat windows. And for a girl who enjoys 80 degrees at bedtime, this is a challenge. I wake up still tired from stirring in the cold, only to find out that there is only cold water in the tap. The expert would’ve already tested the water to figure out the best time to bathe. But day three into my baby powder hair treatment, coated in the dust from the walk the day before, I have no other options. A true amateur.
So I’m quickly introduced to the bucket bath with cold water in a cold tile bathroom. I don’t even think about how much of a gift it is that water even comes out of the tap, and instead am shrieking at Mark to take pity on me as he enjoys his own Clif bar breakfast in the other room.
Here’s the technique: use your hands as a scooper and strategically position your head over the tub so that when the water hits your hair, not even a drop of its ice-coldness will touch your body. AND GO FAST. The body can just be washed down real fast and touch ups made with baby wipes that I packed last-minute. I just accept the reality that I will never be as clean as I hope to be, and move on with the day. And also scour the aisles of the grocery store later on to find all of the baby powder to keep myself from having to endure that cold water torture every morning.
Ok here we go. Hair is half greasy, half wet, all cold. I’ve got my linen pants on (that I thought were required to be an American living in Zambia - joke’s on me), ready to face the paperwork day.
We meet Elina at the bus stop at 8am. The office opens at 8 and we have to get a good start on the process. I’m thinking that we’ll easily be done by lunchtime, and start looking around for lunch options on our bus ride, as I’m practically sitting in the lap of the strange man sitting next to me so that all of us will fit in the bus as the “conductor” instructs. But you can’t beat it for 20 cents. Watching my tall brother fit himself in one of those buses shows that he’s got skills that would win any game of Twister. Just sayin’.
We’re here. Standing in a surprisingly organized line at the office where we’ll register as an official Zambian charity. Elina and her friend take the lead on this, and I couldn’t be more thankful for them in these moments. They return and inform us that we have the forms! Yay! But they must be filled out by TYPEWRITER. I repeat, typewriter, like in the olden days, y’all.
The only place they know to go find a typewriter? City Market. The market of all markets, one of the busiest, craziest places in the entire city of Lusaka. During my trip in 2010, I went here with a male leader and some guys from my group, and a man asked them how much it would cost to buy me. Real talk.
Needless to say, I’m definitely not pumped to be going here. But we have to. We jump in another bus, walk over streams of litter, and join a huge mass of people heading to City Market, senses working overtime.
We pass the stalls of fabric, secondhand shoes, counterfeit soccer jerseys, fake Barbie dolls from China, plastic hair clips, and are just a couple rows from the typewriter man.
The row that’s between this typewriter and us is enough to send me back to America, but I’m with Mark and have to pretend to be brave and power through. A table stretching 15+ feet is covered in animal parts for sale. Cow tongues. Brains. Eyeballs. Entire heads. Feet. All bloody and smelly and fly-infested. If I had more food in my stomach than a little Clif bar, I would lose it right here and now.
Sure enough, catty-corner to the animal parts table, cow tongues still visible, we’ve arrived at the typewriter. Phew. Let’s just get this over with and head back to the registration office, please. We hand our document to the typewriter man, and quickly learn that we won’t be leaving any time soon. He’s a hunt-and-peck guy. With potentially failing eyesight. And when he hits the wrong letter, the whole document has to come out, apply white out, and re-insert the document after it dries for a few minutes.
Mark and I just look at each other and utilize our nonverbal sibling communication skills. He’s squirming, I’m squirming. Please just let us type this five-page document to get us out of here sometime today. But we trust, we let him do his thing, and meanwhile I’m going weak in the knees as the day heats up and the cow tongue smell becomes especially pungent in this dark, cramped, busy market stall.
It’s as if we keep getting these “outs” to tap out of this whole Zambia thing and just return back to the land of familiarity. But nope. Can’t no cow tongues or brains or eyeballs or flys nesting in said cow parts keep me from empowering Zambian ladies.
Fast-forward a few hours, more buses, probably 20,000+ steps clocked into our imaginary Fitbits, and our paperwork is miraculously submitted. A few days later, APPROVED!!
We giggle about the cow tongues for days, and now after the end of it, I feel like the female version of Indiana Jones, ready to take on the world (“haha” –me 5 years later).
Part 4 (it's about to get crazy) launches 7/5