I apologize for being incommunicado for a few days—(a week even!!). Tom and I were on a trip to the capital city that didn’t go quite as we’d expected. I was twittering with @halfasskrissa before leaving and she said she hoped the trip went smoothly. We fully expected it to be smooth sailing all the way. The itinerary was simple: Drop off papers at an office, buy airline tickets, pay one bill, do a tiny amount of shopping. Down by bus one day, one and a half days of city life, back on the night bus. What could go wrong?
To start off, we were still waiting to pick up a letter from the Chief that we needed for our visa. We had typed up the letter and just needed his signature. We dropped it off on Sunday night and on Tuesday evening sent our gardener down to pick it up. He brought back word that he was refused and we were supposed to go there ourselves to get it on Wednesday morning at 7 AM. We asked if he had let them know that our bus left at 4 AM. Yes, he had. We were still supposed to be there at 7. Ok, then. I talked Tom down off his rage and assured him that I would kill two birds with one stone getting my walk in as I walked down to the palace and we would still catch one of the next buses that pass through the village all morning. The only trouble with the later buses is that they are much slower meaning we would be on the bus half the day and all night. No problem as long as we got there.
Early the next morning I threw on my workout clothes, stuck my Ipod in my pocket and began the brisk walk down through the village. Normally I don’t walk through the village preferring to walk into the bush to avoid stares and mockers. This time I was too focused to care. I was on a mission!
I got to the palace five minutes after 7 and was told by the gatekeeper to just wait a bit. When I asked if it was going to be a brief wait or a long one, I was informed that the chief was still asleep. I was furious at this point. What was the purpose of asking me to come that early? I settled in to wait, and wait, and wait. I hadn’t packed yet so I was mentally looking over my to do list and wondering how I would get it all done. The first couple hours I was somewhat patient but as hour 3 and 4 slowly passed I began to get pretty uptight. I was surprised my head didn’t explode—my blood pressure was that high.
Around 10 AM three buses passed through the village on their way to Lusaka. I could see them from my waiting post and wasn’t sure if I was seeing the last one each time. Finally, after sending several messages into the palace with relatives who came and went, we got the letter. It was 11:15. I walked as fast as I could to get home. As I passed through the village, I got information that there was one more bus coming at 12:20. As it was usually a 20 minute walk back home I double timed it (getting laughed at by school boys for my trouble) and made it home in record time.
After jumping in the shower for the quickest wash in history, I frantically began throwing clothes in a backpack trying desperately to remember if there was anything important we had to bring with us. Because of my hurry I ended up not bringing any pajamas. What I thought was my long sleep T-shirt ended up being a long linen skirt. That’s what I get for being a procrastinator.
In between my manic packing I was eating breakfast, packing a food bag, shouting out instructions to the kids, making sure they had money (the milk truck was due to come that day) and knew what to do while we were gone.
About 10-15 minutes after I had dashed into the house we jumped into a waiting taxi (bless our gardener for bringing it) and made our way to the village center. Ten minutes later we were settled in our seats for the 16 hour bus ride to Lusaka. Tom mentioned that he had taken some medication and was pretty drowsy and went right to sleep. I pulled my book out of my bag of tricks and we were off.
More (oh, much, much more) tomorrow…..