15 Jun The most rural village
I am in a tiny little town in Zambia with the authentic straw huts, a town chief, 0 electricity and a whole lot of curious childeren. There are so many childeren in Zambia! Every little town we pass they come running up to the road “How are you?! How are you?! How are you?!“. Even after waving and responding “Great! How are you?!“, they keep going “How are you?! How are you?!“. I wonder if they know what they are saying…
My 3 bikebuddies (Henri, Thomas and Rosy) and I started from Chipata this morning and have cycled around 100km today. The sun started to set, so instead of pushing on another 40km to the next official town, we decided to ask the first rural town on the side of the road if we could set up tent within the safety of their fences.
And so we did. We found the town chief, he introduced himself in perfect English as Robert. He told us that we were welcome, but that we did have to keep quiet because his uncle had passed away the day before. We thanked him for his hospitality, especially considering the circumstances and promised to keep quiet.
The only thing was that the kids were absolutely fascinated by us. While we were setting up our tents, during our cooking and eating, we were constantly surrounded by about 35 staring childeren. It must have been an even weirder experience to them, they probably don’t see a lot of white people, perhaps the occassional tourists passing by in a 4×4. And now there were 4 of them sitting right in front of them in their own village! We started to exchange some funny faces, always a great succes in case of a language barrier and caught a few laughs.
Soon enough I forgot about the warning of the town chief and remembered I had been carrying stickers in my backpack for months.
A friend back in Amsterdam advised me to bring them along because she had a great time handing them out on her trip through Uganda. As she did, I sticked them on their foreheads and their shyness disappeared completely when they started to laugh and all tried to get closer to score one of the funky animal stickers. Some of the kids were sneaky and tried to get 2 or 3 of them, but it wasn’t Christmas and I didn’t bring enough to hand out to the entire town. Still in my element I started to sing “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine“, took the kids on a little walk around the water put and was just about to turn back to the tents when a man in fine English asks me if I could please be quiet, the town was in mourning. Ashamed I walk back to my friends, who await me shaking their heads (with big wide grins on their faces). Thanks guys.
The town chief sent all the kids away and we got into our tents for an early night. While updating my journal with a torch in hand, I kept looking up to the hole in the tent, the zipper was broken and I was expecting a few kids to sneak up to the tent to stare at me. But they seemed to have gone to their mud & straw homes for their own nights rest.
After an hour or so I woke up of sounds. No more than 20 meters from our tents I could hear several women sing unknown words in the most beautiful voices. Most likely in honour of the departed uncle. Not planning to disturb the peace again I layed by head back on my selfmade pillow (aka sweater) and enjoyed their voices singing me back to sleep.