January 19, 2008

An Evening in Lusaka

Since the rainy season started a couple months ago, mornings have become a dreary affair; always damp, overcast and breezy. Warm oatmeal and coffee makes up for not having hot water for a scalding morning shower. My Cord hoodie has replaced a tank top as the standard around-the-house attire.

Afternoons are even darker: sometime between 10am-1pm, the grey morass of sky coagulates into hideous black storm clouds. Once the wind picks up and the internet or satellite TV cuts out, the t-banger (thunderstorm) is imminent. Locals scurry about with umbrella in hand, hoping to reach their destination before it starts. Others huddle under awnings and mango trees, hunkering down to wait out the storm.

By 5 o’clock the rain has stopped and people are heading home from work, trying to navigate flooded roadside paths choked with mud and fetid water. On my route to the mini-bus, I strategically criss-cross the street to avoid the worst ponds and walk on the asphalt when vehicles aren’t whizzing by.

Around 6, the clouds part and the first daily glimpse of sunshine radiates the earth, producing that sun-drying-out-wet-earth smell. As I head out for my nightly jog with the sun at my back, there’s often a full-arc rainbow in the east for me to run towards. Leaving the apartment complex, I pass by full-blooming gardens and trees swollen with fruit, the smell of roses mingling with the evaporating rainwater. With the usual regalia of confused stares, I’m out of the walled compound and off on my route.

I plod along past the serious-looking Chinese workers building a private hospital across the street; wave to the guards I recognize; politely decline taxi offers and thank people for moving out of my way. The only annoyances are packs of commuting school kids and marauding clouds of vehicle exhaust. With Saul Williams or N.E.R.D. piped in though your earphones and the exercise endorphins coursing through your body, it’s easy to forget where you are and get lost in an inner monologue.

By the time I race past a long homestretch of flowering vines and come to a stop at the Cypriot embassy, the road is nearly dry from the day’s rain. Ambling to my front veranda as the sun begins to set, I drink water and stretch before sitting down to take in the evening noises. The compound cat meows and prances around, eating the nymphs that begin to stir at dusk. Zambian music filters in from over the horizon as the bars gear up for another weeknight of all-night drinking. Crickets, frogs and some strange bubbling noises complete the strange symphony.

I usually sit out on the front stoop until the timed lights buzz to life and turn on, interrupting my thoughtful solitude as I head inside. It's something I'll really miss about this place.


Scott said...

Yeah, this totally sounds like Manitoba.

B. Scott Currie said...

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not. For the love of Winnipeg, please tell?

Scott said...

No sarcasm, it actually sounds like Manitoba. The focus on nature and solitude lends that vibe.