This was the sight that greeted us on our shopping trip last week when we went to fill up our diesel tank. Trucks and mini buses were lined up down the street outside a gas station. There were pick up trucks, vans and cruisers also filling the station. There has been a fuel shortage for a few weeks now because Zambia's only refinery shut down for maintenance and without adequate reserves they had to import fuel from outside the country. Many NGOs (non-governmental organizations/charities) have had to put projects on hold and other non essential activities postponed. This happens every year or two. One of the reasons we bought a car with a diesel engine is so that we can store drums of diesel for possible shortages. We will be working on this as soon as funds allow.
Since this was the only station in town that had diesel at all we had no choice but to join the party. It took a while to even figure out where the line of cars started. Finally by asking around we got into position behind 9 other vehicles. One of the cultural differences here is the disregard for lines (or queues as they're called here) and so I was poised to jump out of the car and fight for our place in line if needed. Thankfully the station personnel kept a pretty good control of the situation.
Many people brought 5 - 10 jerry cans to fill up as well. After a while the station manager decided there was a need to ration so he began limiting customers to 50 liters (about 12 gallons) of diesel. When it was our turn at the pump Tom estimated we would need 70 liters to fill our tank so he started chatting up the manager. The manager was an Indian man just moved here from India. Tom introduced himself in Hindi and spoke a bit about how much he and I had loved India. A shameful exploitation of our travel experience? Perhaps. But totally worth it as we got the extra diesel. Yeah! We only ended up needing 62 liters.
Tomorrow is our weekly shopping trip where we travel over 100 miles to get to Mansa--the closest city with a grocery store. It takes us 2 hours to get there. Eventually we would like to try to do this trip only twice a month but for now we have to go weekly. This city is also the only place we can access money using our ATM card so it's an important trip.
Please pray that the diesel situation will be resolved soon. Pray we can fill up our tank while in Mansa.
In other news: Last night we got a new monkey-- a female this time. We're not sure we can help this one as she has a broken arm and an infected (to the point of gangrene) cut. We're just not quite set up to perform medical operations on animals at this point.
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I'm an average girl--scared to death of creepy crawlies--who somehow ended up in the bush of Africa, building and running an orphanage. I now have 28 foster kids. In addition, I have a wonderfully adventurous husband and six kids. Due to the crazy passage of time, only one is left with me and five are working and/or in college in the U.S. Life is crazy, exciting, often scary and never, ever boring.