The content of this blog is the creator's own thoughts and does not represent the views or opinions of the Peace Corps or the United States Government. I would also like to apologize for all my spelling and grammatical errors... there will be a lot.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Charcoal Incident…

Once a month I embark on a magical journey to buy charcoal in my village (sometimes sooner if my Iwes have used all my charcoal to draw on my floor). Now buying anything in the village is an adventure, we have a shop – but they are open on “when we feel like it” bases. There are also various villagers with stands on the side of the road which are used to sell everything from soap to shake-shake (beer), but the products, the times and where the items are located changes constantly. So normally when purchasing anything in the village you simply have to go on word of mouth.

“Ba Musonda balewete almalasha lelo?” {Does Mr. Musonda have charcoal today?}

“Nshishibe, Nalemona” {I don’t know, I will look.}

And that’s how it started; normally I would simply walk around the village like a crazy person randomly asking anyone that passes

“Mukwete amalasha?” {Do you have charcoal?}

“Kwisa amalasha?” {Where is charcoal?!”

But that day I took a more relaxed approach, I just asked one person to look for me. After we exchanged pleasantries and she asked to borrow my cat she went on her way. A bit later she eventually sent a child to tell me that the neighbor had some and would bring it over now. 4 hours later a man appeared slowly and carefully cycling with the heavy load on the back of the bike. Normally charcoal is 9pin to 15 pin, depending on size. Bastard charged me 17, but what choice did I have? So I hosted the huge bag equal to my height into my insaka gave away my money and figured that I would be done now for the month. I was wrong…

Not 30mins later Another man with charcoal on his bike came and told me he was sent by a neighbor, I laughed at the silliness and sent the poor man who most likely bike 12k to my house away feeling a bit guilty. But then a hour later ANOTHER man came with charcoal to my house, this was heavily intoxicated and had a hard time understanding that I already had charcoal and didn’t need more. Or conversation was more wild gesturing then talking as he couldn’t understand my Bemba and I couldn’t understand his slurred English. After a good half hour of this he eventually got the point but said he would only go is he could use my bathroom, for the sake of preserving my peaceful afternoon I let him go. While he was in the bathroom, TWO new men on bikes with charcoal showed up…

Welcome to Africa.

1 comment:

Erin's Display Name said...


I've been reading up on PC Zambia and I stumbled upon your blog. I'll be leaving in January with the RED group, which I see you are working in! I was wondering if you could give our trainee group any advice as far as packing (particularly for all of us ladies)... and any other advice you have to offer. Would greatly appreciate it! Your blog is great... the links for videos and books are very helpful!