Finally! We are now sitting in the train towards Tanzania, a trainride I’m dreaming of taking for a long time now. That doesn’t mean that I’m happy that my time in Zambia is over, on the contrary even.
In the short time that we have been in Zambia I’ve learned a lot about the country. A country that is trying to find it’s way through poverty and a difficult government. Five years ago a new president came to power. A president that borrowed a lot of money for improving the Zambian infrastructure. However, corruption is rampant. The money has been used for other means than intented and right after this government was chosen things started to change immediately. Products got more expensive, some even got scarce to find whereas beforehand one could find them everywhere and the standard of living decreased massively. Gasoline prices are rising, now as high as in The Netherlands. In August there were new presidential elections and though the current president lost he is still in charge. According to Justay, a friend, the president has done nothing for this country. He apparently has said he doesn’t have a vision for this country. Well that’s a great motto of a president.
Justay brings us to Kapiri Mposhi from where we will take the train to Tanzania. We pass a huge football stadium: Heroes it’s called. Justay tells us that in ‘ 95 the national football players died in a plane crash. They are now buried next to the stadium and therefore it changed it’s name from Independence to Heroes.
A police officer stops us. We exceeded the speeding limit, strange as there are no speed signs along this way. We get a fine, nothing to be done about that. “They just want to have money” Justay says. When I asked how fast we were allowed to go he nodded “120 or maybe 80, I don’t know”. Then why is he charged? This is Africa! And that’s about it. You easily lose 350 kwacha (35 dollars), if you don’t negotiate that is. You can negotiate about everything in Zambia, even about the hight of a speeding ticket. Justay has to pay the ticket right away, without official receipt of course.
Everywhere along the way we see people selling cole. Zambia has lots of mines near Kapiri Mposhi. Nowadays most mines are owned by the Chinese and Indians, some by the Australians. Little revenue stays within Zambia even though they do the hard work. Luckily work conditions have improved. It is safer to work in the mines nowadays and no children are used anymore. Other than that the employees get a fair payment for their hard work. Of course they still don’t get a pension and people can’t work for very long in the mines. But at least things are improving.
While the economy is in bad shape we do see people digging a long long line with an ax in which they will put optic viber cable to provide internet. Well we didn’t really expect seeing that. Especially because parts of Zambia still go without electricity and clean water. Setting priorities straight.
Justay works at a travel agency Quiz Bee and he told us a lot about the national parks in Zambia. Did you know that you can also watch the migration of wildebeast in Zambia? Or that there is a huge bat migration as well? It is such a beautiful country and still rather unknown to tourists who mostly go to Botswana, Malawi and Tanzania. We also got to talk about strange ceremonies and century old religions of Zambia but that I’ll tell in another blog. Now we’re going to enjoy our last views on this wonderful country. From now on our internet will be limited as well so less updates from us. See you in Tanzania!