If there is anything Zambia can teach you, it's patience. There are always lines at the market ( and I don't mean lines like "oh, that lady has 100 cans of dog food, I think I'll go to aisle 6 instead", I mean lines like you can't get to the bread aisle because there's so many people), transportation takes twice as long as you'd expect... you have to be patient with yourself and others as you try to understand one another through language and cultural differences.
Nothing ever just happens here. Everything's a process. You do not simply wake up and think, hmmm I need a toaster, and then go to the store and buy a toaster. You plan the day before: Ok, I need a toaster. Where can I find one. I am sure maybe this store or that store will have one. Any store withing walking distance? No. Ok so... I will need transportation. Who has the car? Should I take a cab... is it worth arguing with the cab driver who is trying to swindle you out of 20 bucks because you're white and he assumes you're made of money. No. Should I take the bus and use my ENTIRE day to get this toaster, or risk having it broken or stolen... no, no. I'll just wait and go to the store on Thursday. Thursday is when I will have a car available. Ok so Thursday rolls around (and most likely someone gets sick and the car is used to get them to the clinic and your shopping trip is ruined) but lets say that didnt happen. Lets say Thursday rolls around and the clouds part and you get in the car and drive to the store. Now you have to decide. Do I buy this toaster? The box is crumpled and its 4x more expensive than a toaster in the states... also it's a brand I don't recognize... will it work? Should I shop around..... Well you have to take these risks. So now you go home and you have a toaster and you are feeling MIGHTY proud of yourself until you get home and realize it's a toaster from South Africa with a different plug. You need an adapter. By now for sure someone else is using the car for something so you make a new plan.... tomorrow. Tomorrow I will get an adapter....
And on and on the story goes as you finally find a store after searching all over town that carries that adapter and then the plug doesnt reach and so you have to rearange the kitchen and put the table where you didn't want it and then when it's all said and done and you plug it in and the little light comes on and put your hands on your hips and smuggly think... I have a toaster. This toaster is mine. I worked for it... it's proof of my perserverence, and on and on you smile and laugh until you stop and realize... I don't even have any bread.
So you put on your shoes and in the 90 degree heat you walk and walk....
Like I said, everything's a process. And its not just toasters or bread. I, for one, don't even have a toaster, I've mastered using the one skillet that I own to make pizza and toast and eggs and chicken and spagetti and anything your little heart could desire. Ahh the milage I will put on that skillet...
Today we set off to get my workers permit. My visa runs out in 5 days and in all the hectic running around since I've come there's been no time to do it. So (After James got a call that he'd unexpectedly have to run out to Kabanana this morning, then get home in time to take Rick and GraceAnn to the airport then take the bus BACK to Kabanana so we could use the car....) Megan and I set out at around 12:15 to the Immigration Offices. We walked in the open door and everyone ignored us. Finally Megan got the attention of a man who told us I can't get a volunteer visa, and I need to get a work visa and blah blah blahhhh but we're closed. I looked at the open door, then back at him- then around the office full of workers, and we left. The man was less than kind- and clearly irritated at our very exsistance.
We were told to come back at 2:30. So we drove home, and I prayed. Please let the person we talk to be kind. Please let me be able to just get in and get out.... Please let it not be $400 dollars, because that's what was posted as the price on the wall) and then at 2:30 drove back.... to a line.
The place was packed and everyone's just milling about signing books and stepping on one another to get to the next person (imagine the DMV only with way more people who don't speak English and no signs, lines, or order. A litteral free- for- all) Luckily Megan was there... I was kindof just standing slackjawed.... she asked around to enough people that we finally got the proper form to fill out. I started to fill it out at the ONLY square inch of usable table space and I was told, "No, no, you have to fill that out at the reception desk (which was swarmed by 5 Asians, 3 Zambians and a handful of Indians. How, exactly, I was supposed to do that I have no idea.) SO I used the wall. Finally Megan got us a desk with a person ready to help. And ya know what- she was NICE. She explained exactly what I needed to do. I needed a certified check for 500,000 kwacha ( $108... not $400 thank you, God.) and two passport photos. I also am supposed to have a police clearance but she said she was sure they'd wave that since I'm not being payed (PRAY) With all that I could file my application, they give me a temporary visa until I get my work permit in 2-3 weeks. Great right?
Don't be silly- the story's not over. So we stopped at the bank. I need a certified check. I had the cash in hand and I was ready to just sign my name and get a check (funny, right?). Well they said since I don't have an account I could deposit the money in Megan's account and then apply for the check (yes, apply) and then tomorrow come pick it up. Well. Megan didn't have her card so the man found her numbers... ah but I had $100 cash... dollars. They wanted kwacha, so we went to another counter and waited. With the exchange rate 500,000 is about 108 dollars so I went in my purse and got my 100 dollar bill and low and behold- eight singles exactly. (God's way of saying "I may be making you work for this, but I'm taking care of you nonetheless"). So we exchanged the money and deposited it into Megan's account. Then we find out that to even get a check is 80,000 kwacha, which is about 16 dollars- so we deposit that too. So now we are ushered to a third desk where we fill out the paperwork and everythings almost done and THEN she asks... why does this say James Williamson? Megan explained it's her husband and the woman says. OH! Well then we can't do this. He has to be here to sign it. (woomp woommmp)
So we left there... and essentially have nothing to show for our time out EXCEPT... we have a plan for tomorrow... and where there's a will- there's a way.