Hello all! I’m back stateside and have a mind full of memories to share with you! I’ll start slowly and pictures are going to take a long while to edit and put together, but wanted to share about the rest of my second day upon arriving in Zambia.
I need a shower, I smell, it’s finally morning and little did I know my luggage was just hanging out somewhere in this airport. GET ME TO ZAMBIA.
At the Nairobi airport, I met up with the first of my team members. Gordon is a well-seasoned Habitat veteran and was such a GREAT face to see prior to boarding for Lusaka, especially after spending ten hours in an airport. Our flight to Lusaka was late (of course) and it was a bumpy ride there. The flight was pretty simple, the food was meh and I spent most of the flight next to a woman horribly sick with the FLU! And I then immediately worried that I would get sick with the FLU while in Africa instead of some awful other disease.
Upon arrival at Lusaka, we stepped right off the plane, onto the runway and walked to the airport. The air was warm and sunny and they barely even glanced at our health forms as we entered the country. After going through customs in about 2.5 seconds (two questions and no documentation later), we discovered that my luggage had not continued on from Nairobi. Despite the fact that I asked no less than 12 people if I needed to grab my luggage and re-check before continuing on to the last leg of my flight. After standing in line for what seemed like forever, they made a little claim on my luggage onto a barely copied piece of paper and we were on our way. A small pit began to form in my stomach as I realized that I had no luggage, no sleeping bag, mat or mosquito net and wondered how I would make a week REALLY REALLY roughing it with just two outfits to go.
We arrived at the Muzala lodge and met up with other Habitat team members, Judy and Alisa. We went shopping at a modern mall (reminded me so much of America) and grocery store and then picked up some more team members from the airport. Then we headed back to the Lodge for our first full-fledged team meeting. I tried some Savannah Cider (SO SO SO GOOD) and “unpacked” my little carry-on. A borrow of some hygiene products and the first shower I had in two days felt AMAZING (despite the shoddy plumbing at the lodge). Air conditioning never felt so good.
Lusaka was beautiful! Lush gardens, plants and flowers, beautiful trees with red flowers, thick red clay and dirt, blue skies and modern language.
Our first team dinner was held at the hotel and I was so concerned about the luggage situation that I barely remember what we ate, but considering the fact that the meal didn’t come out of airport boxes, it was delicious. While sitting at the table with Steve, Hannah and Lora, I discovered that they had flown through Johannesburg and laughed about being stopped for their yellow card for the yellow fever shot and said something to the effect about it being absolutely necessary just to get THROUGH Johannesburg to your next flight and suddenly, I was seeing yellow. It was the start to my stay and all I could think about now was my exit. My doctor had never told me I needed it as Zambia is a low-risk country, but apparently, South Africa’s policies are much more strict requiring that even just for short layovers between flights out of the country.
Panic set in.
So you’re telling me that I’m staying a week in Africa, have NO luggage AND I need a shot that I don’t have just to leave?! What in the world would happen? The stories were conflicting, saying I may be okay, they’d shoot me at the airport (with an immunization – haha), that I’d need to get a shot in Africa and so on. I realized quickly that the best option would be to just get the shot to be on the safe side. While still connected to wifi, I panicked to Jim about what to do to which he also concluded I probably would just want to get the shot to put my mind at ease.
And suddenly lost luggage no longer seemed like my biggest problem.
I collapsed at the end of the night in a fit of worry over luggage, major concern about being stuck with a sharp object in an underdeveloped country and going on virtually no sleep after an overnight stay in what I found out to be one of the worst airports/areas for safety. These steps were not boding well for me. I fell asleep to nightmares of shots, fevers and wearing the same clothes for days, wondering if it was even possible for this trip to get any worse…