September 3rd, 2013
So, hello again, and sorry for the delay. I’ve been busy, including some travel, and some taxing events via e-mail. But short answer, all here is well, and I am alive, and not sick… miraculously (getting sick seems to be the trend, anyways, when visiting a new country. Before coming here I was 2 for 2. Or 0 for 2, as it were).
I’m typing from Macha, a city in southwestern Zambia, mostly south of Lusaka. What am I doing here?
Well, believe it or not, I’m fixing bikes.
It’s a bit more complicated than that, of course. I’ve hinted here and there that Zambikes was a little more remiss than I would have liked them to be in arranging my stay. In fact, I ended up moving in with my aunt, who (thankfully) lives only about 10 km south of Lusaka and was able to pick me up from the airport. In my first few days, I visited Zambikes twice, which I will write about soon. All you need to know at this point is that because I have to go into town, then out of town again, and because the bus system here is… well, not ideal, but surprisingly functional, I had a three hour commute either way.
Naturally, I want to move in to the Zambikes guest house before I start volunteering. Then, I can have a three minute walk, instead of two 1u1/2 hr bus rides.
So when I found out the guest house was going to be full through September 7th, I decided to find another way to occupy myself. Hence why I’m in Macha.
Sue, my aunt, was going to come here to volunteer at a school, and suggested I come along as well. So, here I am. Indeed, I’ve been finding things to do. Most don’t have to do with bikes, but as I think we established on the tail end of Guatemala, as long as I’m doing earnest work, that’s okay. And the school does have some bikes, so I’m sure I can knock a few off the 90 while I’m here. At the least, there’s a wheelchair that needs its tubes changed. Is fixing one quadricycle the same as fixing two bicycles?
Macha has to be one of the smallest cities I’ve spent more than a day in. It has a population of 135,000, but in the same way Minneapolis/St. Paul has a population of 3.4 million. That’s really the Msp/St. Paul metro area, and Minneapolis alone only has a population of 392,000. Similarily, 135,000 is the Macha… area… (there’s no metro)… but that’s in a 35km radius around the city center, an area of 3,846 square kilometers. So the population density is only 25 per square km. Compare to Minneapolis (not the metro area), with an area of 151 square kilometers. It has one-twenty-fifth the “area,” yet three times the population, for a population density of 2,710 per square km.
So, yea. It’s… empty here.
To be fair, the US is much the same way, except most of us don’t realize it. We tend to forget about the farmvilles located just outside of the major cities we live in. I’m not here to give anyone a geography lesson – just be aware. Anyways, if you’re going to change lives, rural areas are a good place to start. If you can raise them up, so the urban and suburban areas will follow.
I’m afraid that has to be all for now. More will follow as I get back into the swing of things from yet another day of travel. It’s also quite hot here, and sunny as well, so I spend a lot of the time I’m not volunteering being sleep, or reading, or doing other things that don’t require much thinking or tap-tapping of the fingers.