Sunday, May 11, 2008

Around Town

Well I'm home alone for this week in Mwinilunga. Chris and his wife Lisette have gone to Congo for a Zambia/Congo trade exhibition.

It's quite nice to finally have time to sit and allow things to sink in. Its amazing how little time alone I get here even though I don't know very many people.

So lets see what might be interesting.

I went to church! Religion plays a huge role in peoples lives here so I figured I should attempt to re-kindle my faith. There are many different religions practiced here, including Seventh Day Adventist, Ba'hai, Jahovah's witness and Catholic.

The English mass started at 9am on Sunday and I was greated by the priest. He was just the second white guy I'd seen since I've arrived in Mwinilunga. He asks what I'm doing and learns that I'm an engineer, he then almost excitedly tells me about the idea of using zeppillins to transport goods around Africa because they would be much cheaper. In the back of my mind I scan through reasons why this shouldn't work and mostly I come up with the usual - expertise - capital - government buy in - and then he mentions that in places like Angola, a giant balloon in the air is likely to be shot down. But a cool idea non the less. I wonder what it would be like to have my own personal zeppelin to ride around and pick up honey in?

So church was actually pretty cool. I laughed to myself about 5 minutes in when I glanced around and noticed beside the stations of the cross there were large signs saying 'please turn off all phones'. Everyone has a cell phone, and sure enough, I had forgotten to turn my off. The rest of the service was strangely but comfortingly-familiar, even though I haven't attended mass for some 15 years, the words spoken and actions taken, even in Africa, are exactly as I had remembered them growing up. There were parts where I felt a similarity to meditation.

On Friday night, Evans came by with his wife to keep me company since I'm on my own. I set him up with email and helped him with his application for business administration through distance education. Forest Fruits promotes continuing education among the staff and sponsors them. I put on some old jazz music and Evans asks, 'What kind of music is this?' in such a way I knew he didn't appreciate it, so I asked what music he liked. A big smile comes to his face as he tells me his plan to buy cowboy boots and how he likes the guitar in country music. Without hesitation I switch to playing John Prine and Corb Lund and he can't help himself but to humm along and tap his knees to the music. We had a good time listening "The chev got stuck and the Ford got stuck, but the chev unstuck when the Dodge showed up, but the Dodge got stuck in the tractor rut" So I've burned a disc for him to listen to at home (and probably drive his wife crazy)

Photo of sunsetting at the football field.

Last night on the way home from work I picked up some bread and some more oranges-n-bananas. After that I walked over to check out a noise I heard to find a crowd at the soccer field. I sit down to watch and relax after a long week of work. I couldn't have imagined a better way to spend my Saturday evening. I ask who is playing and it turns out its the local high-school playing the old-timers! I instantly was taken back to memories of baseball and hockey games where we had father-son games and how intense they would get. It was a great game and the skill level seemed quite high. In the end, the young bucks won, 2-0.

Nothing too crazy this time around, which is good for me, however, it makes for less interesting reading... I'm sure there is much more to come on the religion aspect.

I will be doing a two week training safari in July/August, so I can guarantee some ridiculous adventures soon to come.

Oh ya, and for those of you with a green thumb, the flowers here are out of control!! I don't know all the names so I'll just post a few pictures here and maybe someone can let me know what to call them. (except the first one, these are daisy's and wow, you literally can't open your eyes outside without them being there...kinda like dandelions in Ontario)


Jen said...

Hi Mark!

I've noticed the same MASSIVE informal sector (in comparison to what I'm used to) here in Ghana. It seems that because of this strong social structure you reference that the informal sector does self regulate to some degree. Everyone knows everyone, and unless you're really crafty you won't get far by cheating your local clients. It's interesting that we in Canada have replaced the role of individual trust with contract law. It many ways it seems more reliable, and in many ways it seems a little sad.

By the way, the pink flowers below your daisys are bougainvillea! We have them here in Ghana as well - watch out for the thorns!

- Jen

Anonymous said...

Hey Mark

the second image is Bougainvillea I think. I just bought a little one in a pot!
It won't gorw as well as teh wild ones over there!