July 19, 2007

Red Shoes Diary

In light of Lusaka's shoddy public transport - overcrowded mini-buses that often crash or taxis that fleece mzungus like me - I've made the empowering decision to walk to work. It's not a bad hike, 25 minutes or so up a big hill out of the city then into the suburbs to my office. The paralyzing fear of trodding around alone as a white guy has faded fast - people don't pay me much mind and the biggest hassle is fighting off taxi drivers trying to give me a ride. I get way more broad-smiling 'good mornings' per capita than I would in Canada anyway (which is to say, none).

Besides, it's a great way to become attuned to the rythmns, vibrations and mechanics of daily life.

As I leave, the security guard at my hostel shakes my hand and wishes me a good day. Out into the street, and a gaggle of uniformed schoolchildren bounce by, singing their way to morning class. Past the taxi stand, a chorus of undecipherable yells and whistles ring out to solicit my business, while newspaper and fruitsellers dodge traffic to ply their wares. Up the hill, a mangy transport truck spews hideous diesel fumes in my face as it whizzes by, full of stoic construction workers looking on. Turning left onto Leopards Hill Road, the road flattens as it heads out of town, stretching past aid agency headquarters and foreign missions, where I'm more likely to encounters gardeners and security guards than ordinary folk. After about a kilometre of white-washed high walls, topped with either electrified fencing, barbed wire or embedded broken glass, I end at the PANOS office, shoes dusted with red dirt and ready to face the day.


scott said...

Brilliant description and nothing like the early morning trek, eh? Seeing the streets come to life. But, do tell, what are the smells like out walking around?

April said...

It's so nice to read about a pleasant African setting. All I read/hear are horror stories.

Chris said...

This is exactly my walk to work here in Kampala, though mine is about an hour. What about the traffic? I've told a few people that I'd be more likely to fall victim to traffic than any other kind of violence.