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Solace of the Familiar

The day of leaving Lusaka finally came; the last party at the school- I rode to work in a rickety minibus, wearing a brand new red chitenge dress my tailor had made specifically for the occasion, and holding a huge pot of cake dough- I'd been planning on making cup cakes for my students, but even on my last days, Zambia didn't let me down; the oven broke just as I finished mixing the ingredients the night before. The catering students fussed over me and made the cakes, whilst ushering me out of the kitchen. Christine, our star student, orchestrated everything, and came up to me, hugged me, and said, "Maaret, me, I like you." (this is how Zambians speak- "Me, I'm tired. Me, I'm hungry. I hate it, but have noticed that me, I do the same thing now).

I was presented with a present, a huge oil colour, and the students put on some music and danced. They shrieked when I pulled Dennis, our mechanics teacher to dance along- there's a strict hierarchy in Zambia and teachers are to be respected- they can't possibly have fun! They were delighted to see their computer and mechanics teachers dancing like paralysed frogs. I gave a small thank-you speech, and much to my surprise, felt my throat go a bit tight; I think I've focused so hard on making travel plans that I never thought it might be hard to leave. Some of the students came over to be photographed with me, and as they thanked me for all their teaching, I thought, yeah, maybe they have learnt something. I always thought I was a crap teacher, impatient and demanding, but I do have a large set of students who five months ago hadn't ever seen a computer, and were now doing Absolute Cell References on Excel. So maybe it wasn't all wasted time after all.

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Sunday my Zambian family and I organised a small goodbye dinner. It's not final goodbyes yet, as I will be going back briefly in April, but all the same, it felt sad to pack up my little concrete room and donate my gumboots to Purity. The kids, Prince, Maleleko, Claire and Thabo put on a dance performance for me, and we took a great video of everyone dancing. They all want to come to England with me, and I have to fight the urge to take them, which is odd, as I've never been particularly fond of children. I'm so excited about travelling, but having had a home of some sort in Lusaka, it is strange and sad to leave it all, again. Routines are scary- you hate them, but miss them when they're gone. They have a certain comfort in them.

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But Monday I felt different. It was a bright, sunny day, and I nearly cried with happiness when the bus started to head out of Lusaka. Sari, Kirsi and Esther came along to Livingstone, and we spent a few happy days lounging by the pool (a holiday! I'd forgotten how great it is!) and doing various activities- I went on a microlight flight over the Victoria Falls, which was indescribable- one of the most amazing natural sights in the world, and I'm flying over them close enough to feel the spray from the falls, watching hippos and elephants grazing along the banks. We all went bungy jumping, as we are all turning thirty in the next few months, and really, what to do if you're 30, single and unemployed? Throw yourself off a bridge, of course. I added a gorge swing to it, and after checking my bank balance, decided against the abseiling. (but if anyone out there wants to give me a 30th birthday present, I'll email you my account number).

Livingstone was pure escapism. I had to do no actual travelling apart from taking a bus from Lusaka, and I ate nothing that was prepared from maize- I talked to other backpackers, and no one asked me how many children I have. Life was good, easy and fun for three days.
Then the girls left for Lusaka, I nearly broke another finger, and Namibia happened. But that's a story that needs a whole another day to be written.

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Gorge swing and the microlight flight in vic falls. Unfortunately, I have no idea where the bungy photos are...

Posted by Ofelia 02:14 Archived in Zambia Tagged volunteer

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