By Betty Trummel
Necessity is the mother of invention. True here in Lusaka, Zambia, where individuals get around any way they can. Most often it’s on foot with well-worn dirt pathways on the side of every roadway. Women carrying baskets atop their heads, laden with fruit and peanuts, or balancing heavy containers of water on strong shoulders or their heads. From the youngest Zambians, wrapped in brightly colored fabric slings draped on the shoulders of an older sibling or mama, to groups of young children in school uniforms…making their way back and forth to school each day…moving on foot is the predominant method of getting around.
Bicycles are also an option, although that’s more limited. It’s not uncommon to see two or even three people on a bike OR goods bought/sold piled high on the back of the bike and/or person riding it.
A noticeable change since my last visit four years ago is more vehicles on the roads. Clearly there’s no emissions control, and every vehicle sputters and spews cloudy puffs of smoke into the air. People crowd into buses and cars, onto the back of trucks, and are precariously perched on construction vehicles. Whether sitting in plastic lawn chairs in the truck bed, dangling off the vehicle, it’s all very different than transportation back home.
A funny experience today was getting fuel for the car. Trying to convert Kwacha (Zambian currency) to dollars and liters to gallons at the same time proved to be challenging for us. As we pulled away and Mal noted that the gas gauge had not moved much, we laughed as we realized that we probably bought three fourths of a gallon of fuel. Oops!