Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Perceptions VS. Reality

After our Victoria Falls shower, N and I decided to dry off. And by dry off, I mean, lay out by the pool to get even darker. She’s gotten to be the resident expert with the African sun. I, on the other hand, have proven that I’m not really Filipino. I’m red and it hurts. a lot.

Today’s other activity consisted of visiting the town of Livingstone to see what it had to offer. We went to the Livingstone Museum, which was interesting for about 5 minutes because it was tiny and dated. Interesting to note though that Zambians are not fans of owls, because they are ugly. Seriously. Otherwise, there wasn’t really anything to note there besides some great local paintings.

Our driver then took us to the market, where I have never been called sister so much. The vendors all had sad stories, asking to trade my tissues and hair elastics to give to their sisters in the village. It was sad at first, until everyone had the same story and I realized their game. After getting the hang of the haggling, I purchased some great souvenirs even though trying to divide everything by 3500 (kwacha to dollar) proved to be a little difficult. I’m sure I still paid way more that I was supposed to for some copper bracelets.

With nothing else to do that wasn’t considered an excursion and that didn’t require a reservation, we decided to go to the local pub and grille and have beer – in my case, a Peroni (who knew Italian beer did well here?). We happened to have stumbled across what I think was the bar near the closest hostel- read: lots of foreigners - but none of us were feeling social... just hungry.

When we were in Lusaka last week, I spoke to our Embassy contact that helped plan our event, and she had suggested that we visit the Funky Munkey in Livingstone when we were sick of the hotel food. We took her up on that and instead of eating at the pub, we went to Funky Munky, inviting our driver into the restaurant to eat with us. He was quite surprised and joined us. We started asking questions of him and his life and Livingstone. He had twins and 3 year old, was born in the copper belt to a miner, and moved to Livingstone for a new life.
Chella, our driver & the Funky Munky | 04.08.08 | livingstone, zambia

As he became more comfortable, he started peppering us with questions. Like many others we encountered in Africa, he was concerned with the upcoming election and whether America was ready for a black president. He also asked questions on whether or not there were homeless people in the US. And if Americans went to church. And what perception the Americans have of Africa. He also started going off about how the British people he’s encountered from the resort were not friendly and how he never thought that we would have invited him to join him. All in all, I think both sides learned about each other, and I’m glad we got the chance to really talk to him.

Oh, and the pizza was the closest thing to pizza that we’ve encountered on the continent. In many foreign countries, they’ll have their take on what the food is - basing it on local ingredients which is fine and understandable. Pizza is always one of these dishes, you never know what you’ll end up with. For instance at our hotel, the pizza has sweetened diced tomato instead of tomato sauce. In the Philippines, I remember getting a “pepperoni pizza” which consisted of a tomato and carrot based sauce, cheddar cheese, and sliced hot dogs. Not exactly my type of pizza. At the Funkey Munkey, they even had a brick oven stove in the back. This is very exciting. I love the ethnic food, but after two weeks, I’m tired of eating rice + stewed meat of sorts (either beef, chicken, goat, or impala). Yes, I tasted impala. It was good.

Later last night, as N and I slurped down ice cream cocktails at the poolside bar, we noticed that the zebras had returned to the lawn area in front of our building. After closer inspection, the herd had decided to lay down and sleep near our building, and very close to the path to our rooms. So, in an effort to get to our rooms without spooking the animals and getting kicked, we crossed the other side of the yard in the dark. Mind you these are the same yards the zebras roam on, eat from, and poop on. Umm, yeah that was fun.

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