Thursday, June 16, 2011

Let the Adventures Begin

I landed in Livingstone and made it through Customs and Immigration without incident. My greeting committee of Ellie and Kel Hamby, Joseph Lawrence, and James Estes (all here preparing for Zambia Medical Mission) welcomed me, and we set out to do our errands in Livingstone. Then the adventures began.
The first ATM I tried would not work. I went down the block and found another one. Then we went into a fast food chicken place and got in line behind two other people. Fifteen minutes later it was finally our turn to order. I ordered first, and then Joseph ordered the same thing. Sorry, I had managed to get the last order of potatoes and Joseph had to order something else. Then the clerk did not have enough change to give me in return. Joseph had to chip in the equivalent of two dollars so that I could get my change. I’ll pay him back some day.
Next stop: cell phone shop. I bought a sim card and inserted it into my global phone. Immediately I started getting spam text messages – 2 different messages repeating every few seconds until my phone reached its limit of 168 messages! At that point, I couldn’t send any text messages because—surprise—there wasn’t enough memory!
I started trying to call the cell phone company. I followed the prompts: Press 1 for English. I listened to the menu, which surprisingly does not feature “How to handle 168 spam text messages,” It does say “Press 5 for all other business. “ I pressed the 5 and listened to another menu that again ends with “Press 5 for all other business.” I pressed 5 and got “We are disconnecting you now.” So far I’ve tried this about 25 times, and twice I have managed to get put on hold instead of being cut off. Those two times I got to listen to three minutes of music before being cut off. Meanwhile, as fast as I can delete the messages, they come in again. I hope you’re not trying to text me here in Africa. It may be a few days.
Back at Namwianga, things are much more functional! Harold had fixed his famous chicken spaghetti for our supper, along with his equally famous chocolate cake. The electricity went off just as we finished eating, making me feel right at home in Zambia. Security guards Webster and Justin let me join them around their brazier fire and get caught up on the news. Sadly, Webster reports that our cat Makua disappeared over a month ago. He says I should not worry, because the cat has done this before and always returns eventually.
The sky is brilliant under the blanket of stars, the crickets are chirping, and the air is cool and crisp. Africa has me in its grip again.
I’ll try to write more after I delete 168 text messages . . . and if the power stays on . . .

No comments: