Hallelujah! I have recovered! After a scary start to the first half of the week, and spending the last few days resting in bed, I was eager to get back out and about around Lusaka for my final two days here.
Before heading to site, I needed to pick up some Zambian presents for family at the local market. Over the last 5 weeks, we have been lucky enough to witness some of the worlds greatest haggling from our very own Bobby V (aka Rob). The rumours of his incredible ability to bargain down a price to nearly a quarter of the original asking price has been spread across Lusaka. A sharp intake of breath can be heard from stall owners as he walks past… fear can be seen on the faces of many as they watch him walk beside their stall and scan for his item of choice.
I decided to utilise these skills by taking him to the market with me to bargain on my behalf… (I am known to pay muzungu prices more often than not). Bobby lived up to his reputation and I managed to get everything I needed in under 20 minutes… efficient and money saving!
So we then headed off to site, and arrived in a record time of an hour! It was an exciting day for us as the contractor had informed us that the last layer of bitumen would be poured! We arrived and, has become the custom, things were not moving as quickly as we would have liked. The large compactor we had been promised had not arrived and they were back to compacting by hand. Due to constructing this court by hand, there were areas of the court that were dented or raised. We had a quick discussion with our site manager and decided a solution to this problem. It was agreed that the final layer was to be poured in the afternoon, focusing on the flawed areas that we had identified.
Whilst the construction work continued, Rob and I started on a small project the team had been discussing over the last few weeks. The site is located within an enclosed field, with many murals painted on the boundary wall. We wanted to mark our time in Chipata by painting our own mural to go adjacent to the new multipurpose court. The team came up with a few ideas at home the night before and settled on a “I ❤️ Chipata” themed wall. After walking round many different stalls in the local market, we finally found the desired paint and brushes and set off to paint the base coat and the writing. This will be completed on tomorrow!
The contractor arrived on site in the late afternoon and work picked up pace. We agreed to stay late with him to see the final layer completed. Surprisingly, upon seeing the final quarter of the court being poured, he decided that the quality of the pour was not high enough and he wanted to do another coat tomorrow! As you can see from the photos we are very close to the finish now…
Today was my final day in Lusaka. The team got up early to join me in visiting the local orphanage to say goodbye to the children I had met there. It has been such a joy to visit multiple times over the last few weeks! We played many games and sang songs with the kids.
We then walked back to the house to meet up with 2 of the girls from Group 2, who have been on rural placement for 10 days to say goodbye.
The rest of the team are off to site this afternoon to see the final final layer being poured and to finish the mural. And Rob is off to teach some more swimming!
The last 5 weeks in Zambia have been the most incredible experience – I’ve loved it!
I’ve met some unforgettable people, learnt so much about the culture (and some engineering!) and been part of an unbelievable team – yes, you Bath Build!! I’m sad to be leaving early, but excited for simple things such as a shower and a washing machine.
As Stephen said to me yesterday evening:
“Don’t worry, it’s not Goodbye, it’s just see you soon”.