Friday, September 14, 2012

Into the Copperbelt

During my first few days in Ndola, I had pretty well just gone from our flat to Layne's office and a few grocery stores.  It was time to go further afield and go with Roger as he visited the two Zambian projects.  By the end of the two days, I could see why this region is called the Copperbelt Territory and how much the mining industry means to it.  Spoiler Alert:  Many of the pictures were taken while we were driving, so apologies for the quality.

We always say the most dangerous part of living in some of these countries is driving.  The Zambian highways and roads are narrow with little or no shoulders and are very busy with buses and huge trucks hauling equipment to the mines.  They scream along with cars trying to pass them making it seem like a game of chicken.

At one point we were behind a very wide truck that took up 3/4 of road, forcing many cars and trucks coming towards him to veer off into the ditches.  Despite having an escort truck ahead, and one behind, the driver refused to pull off or move over when he was able to.  We followed him for several butt clenching, teeth grinding miles watching people trying to pass him until finally he let us by.

We headed northwest through Kitwe, Chingola and spent the night in Solwezi.  Once we turned off the main highway we passed many villages and clusters of huts.  The Jehovah Witnesses have arrived in full force and I was surprised to count 10 kingdom halls within 60 kms.

While Roger went to the Kansanshi project, I stayed behind at the Royal Solwezi Hotel and enjoyed reading on the veranda.

Grounds at the Royal Solwezi Hotel
We got an early morning start heading to the project at Konkola
Motherhood truly is a "balancing act" in Africa.  The lady in the middle is carrying a baby on her back while balancing the large bundle on her head.  

People use bikes to carry huge loads.  The fellow on the left approaching us had large bundles of charcoal.  We saw many walking while pushing their bikes laden with stacks of bricks, one man had 2 large dead pigs strapped to the frame, and another one had a large armchair roped to the handlebars and seat.

Typical family cluster of huts

I would love to drop by the palace some day!
Bundles of charcoal being sold on the roadside
Lots of little stores can be found along the highway.  Love the sign "Let them talk - only God knows"
The Layne camp at Konkola
The camp was really quite beautiful and I must say I prefer the trees and grass over the sand and scrawny bushes in the Kalahari!
Dining hall and TV lounge

It always amazes me how trees can thrive atop termite mounds.  They must have a symbiotic relationship because it just doesn't seem to make sense.  Some termite mounds can be 30 feet tall and are said to be 10,000 years old.
Termite mound
Private companies sponsor many services throughout Zambia including traffic lights (called a robot) in Ndola.  Police checks are common in the cities and rural areas; this one, near the Konkola site, is sponsored by Layne.

The rock formations reminded me a little of the Drumheller area of Alberta

Huge mines in the Northwest and Copperbelt territories
Education in Zambia is reported to be free, but parents must pay for school uniforms and other items that prevents many from attending. Each school has different colored uniforms, and in the rural areas, we saw children walking for miles to get to school.  It was also sad to see so many young children hauling water and wood, knowing they would never have the opportunity to get an education.
Roadside vendors often set up near police checkpoints to take advantage of stopped traffic

Huge outdoor furniture store along the road.  Not sure what happens when it rains.
Large termite mounds
The beautiful lilac-like trees are starting to lose their blossoms, making it look like purple snow
After one week in this country, I see that Zambia is a wonderful confluence of African culture, great food and music, with most modern conveniences.  Think "Africa Lite".

While having dinner in Solwezi, I decided to try out speaking Bemba to our waiter who had been very kind.  As he placed our meals, I gamely said, "twa to te la" (thank you).  He looked a little puzzled at first, then broke into a huge smile and said, "Ahh, madame!  You are almost there."

He's right.

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
William Arthur Ward

1 comment:

Marina said...

Wow-this looks like an amazing experience. I'm totally fascinated by your photos. Can't wait for the next post...