Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Finish Line and Beyond

The Finish Line and Beyond

It's been weeks since I've updated, I know. It's not a lack of desire
to write, I write in my journal regularly, but more of a logistical
problem. Internet access is usually slow when you can find it, and
expensive if it's fast. And in Zambia it's just plain hard to find.
I'm now in Lusaka, Zambia. Since Arrive in Cape Town on May 9th and
celebrating the completion of an epic journey with staff and riders I
have traveled by overlander truck to Serenje, by bike to my village,
to Lusaka by pickup truck and to Chipata by semi. I've been delayed
by police twice: once for 3 days and once for only and hour, although
the hour was much more difficult because it was past midnight and I
had already been traveling for 10 hrs. All in all it's been a nice
time. Reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. It's been a
nice time to reflect on how Zambia has changed, how I've changed and
on the 4 month tour I just completed. I'm in Lusaka hanging out with
my friends Natalie and Holo and trying to get a visa for Angola.
Unfortunately you can only apply for a visa on Monday between 9 am and
12 pm and I arrived at the embassy on a Wednesday. I can pay $200 for
an "emergency" visa. I think I'll have to do that, I can't see
hanging around Lusaka for another week.

When I have the Visa I will be riding into Western Province, north
thru Kafue National park and up thru Northwestern province to the
Source of the Zambezi. From there I hope to cycle thru Angola to
Luanda, the capital, and down the coast to Namibia, eventually
reaching Swakupmund and Walvis Bay. Then a quick ride to Windhoek and
a bus to Livingstone where I may meet a friend, Kathleen, who is
flying over to visit. From there I'll visit some PCVs along the Great
East Road. I'm trying to organize some village home stays for our
riders next year and the volunteers in eastern province have been
really helpful so far. So I'll ride from Lusaka to Chipata and visit
the villages. Then it's a quick ride into Malawi to Zomba, where I
hope to visit Africycle, a Toronto Based Group that import used bikes
from North America to be refurbished and sold in Malawi. If time
allows I will continue cycling to Mozambique to Bilene, where a friend
of mine is getting married in August. After the wedding I plan to
ride down the eastern coast of south Africa (The Garden Route it's
called) to Cape Town and a flight home. Whew.


…Thought about james today on the bus. I didn't have breakfast so
when when the bus stopped I ran out and got some chips (French fries).
James loved chips. Even Crappy ones like these. Soaked in grease,
cold and rubbery, they tasted great on an empty stomach and made me
laugh when I remembered all the times James made us stop so he could
by chips for breakfast…

…I still am stuggling to form an opinion on aid in Africa. There's a
lot of negatives, to be sure, but there are positives as well. And a
lot of my friends make a very nice living working for aid
organizations in various countries. The Government doesn't seem to
mind. The people don't seem to mind so why do I? I think the bottom
line for me is this: Aid will help Africa improve, it already has.
But it's not the donated funds that go out to rural communities that
will have the greatest impact, if they have any impact at all. It's
the salaries of all those aid workers. Prices in Lusaka and Chipata
for housing, are on par with those in Florida. This in a country with
an average annual per capita income of about $350. The money paid to
aid workers is huge and they spend it. In country. Unfortunately
right now everything in country is imported so the money leaves
quickly but that is starting to change. As Zambia develops industries
and services of its own and retians those dollars it will grow an
economy. Aid will begin to accomplish it's goal, just not in they way
most people anticipated. Good. I guess. What bother me about that
is that is causes Zambia to mimic the economy and the capitalist ideal
of the west. It reduces the diversity of the word. That seems a bit

… so I built a canoe when I lived in the village and tried to float
it, with 3 friends down river to Kasanka park. The canoe sank because
we overloaded it and even when we finally managed to get going we
didn't get far before giving up. I left the canoe in the village when
I left and forgot about it. Upon my return to my village, after many
greetings and platitudes the subject was brought up. "Paul, you did a
very good thing leaving us that canoe, but who owns it?" Apparently
the canoe had been put to use. People used it for transport, for
fishing etc… Great I thought. But of course there was a problem.
"Ba Boyd Says you left the canoe at his house so it is his and we must
pay him to use it." Trying to remember I said "Ba Boyd live closest
to the river. The canoe weight 400 lbs, I left it there because I we
couldn't carry it any further. The canoe belongs to the community"
Cheers went up and people slapped my back and hugged me. I felt like
a hero, but also sad that I had to be the one to tell them. Why
couldn't they work that out on their own? …

… "Fuckin Burgers, I'm tired of fuckin burgers" Steve Kamau,
lamenting that every place we stayed on the drive up to Zambia on sold
fast food burgers. Of course we always stayed a gas station truck

More later.



Arash Shane Robinson said...

You went back to your village?! That is awesome. I wish I could make it for Natalie and Holo's wedding. Just not possible w/o quitting my job. Not a smart move right now.

Man, Paul, I didn't get your aid/development thoughts. Wish we could argue over a beer. Plenty of time for that when you get back! Or when we meet somewhere else!


anonymous said...