Zambia - TAZARA Kasama
Mon 29 Sep
Heather collected me from the guesthouse in Lusaka and after making sandwiches and packing the car we were on our way. She was taking a couple of other reunion people up to the Copperbelt and had kindly offered to drop me at Kapiri Mposhi – to connect with the TAZARA railway.
On the road north we saw people selling caged birds that had been caught in the bush. Heather was angered saying it was totally illegal and that she sometimes stops and tells them off, confiscating the bird and taking it home to feed before setting it "free".
Heather dropped me at 1330 about three hours before the train was due to leave. I had plenty of time to sort out a ticket, which theoretically had been reserved, and to chat with the catering crew as they waited on the platform with enormous cooking pots and crates of soft drinks.
The train pulled out bang on time and we were soon travelling through tireless Zambian bush – glowing as the sunlight softened. I met up with Nixon the chief caterer and bought him a soda. Moses the barman didn’t have change for my beer – I asked if he would remember me? (I was the only white person on the train) – he promised he would.
My compartment was shared with three Zambians. The two for my stop were 7th day Adventist Christians - of course they wanted to know which church I was from. I told them I didn’t believe and they went quiet. Then they decided I must be joking and lightened up a little - but still not very sure. "How could this be possible? Then how were you created?" They were soon talking and laughing to themselves about the riddle of "which came first - the chicken or the egg?" without any further prompting from me.
Tue 30 Sep
Arrived at 0612 – 12 minutes late – not bad given the train’s reputation. Got a minibus to town and walked the 1km along to the guesthouse. It was a lovely sunny morning; warming up quickly. I was a curiosity to nearly everyone I passed although I was not sure why – they’d seen a white person before, even walking – perhaps it was the time of day?
Had breakfast; real coffee and toasted "farmhouse" bread and then walked into town. Bought a T-shirt, and polo shirt and did some food shopping in Shoprite, then went looking for a bookshop and internet café. The connection charge was exorbitant and the dial-up connection could only manage 19k (1/3 of normal modem speed). It took ages to do what I needed to. Bought some "kitenge" (African print fabric) and asked a tailor called Josephine to make me a shirt. Also bought a pocket sized short-wave radio and enjoyed listening to the BBC World Service in the garden of the guesthouse all afternoon.
Wed 1 Oct
I arranged to return to the internet café, not for the internet but to type up my Zanzibar Film festival report and as much of my diary as I could manage. I spent the whole day there (free of charge), popping out at lunchtime to collect my shirt (seemed very big to me but everyone I asked said it looked good and needed to be loose in this hot weather). Emailed the report to ZIFF; (great relief after all these months) and my diary for safe keeping, and then walked ‘home’ in the dark.
Zambia - TAZARA Kasama