Street Sense

“500 kwacha each.”

I caught the hint of mischief in her eyes. Plus, a few days ago I purchased the same thing from a much older woman for only 250 kwacha.

“Really?” I asked. “Are you sure they aren’t 250 each?”

“Ok, 250 each.” She smiled.

I could only chuckle to myself as I walked away munching on my slice of fried sweet potato. This is Africa, as they say. 10 cents for a slice of sweet potato isn’t that much more than 5 cents, but I’m getting into the bargaining game. Plus I’m a traveler on a budget, especially until I get my replacement bankcard.
The electricity had been out all day, so I wasn’t able to cook the pasta I had been planning to eat for lunch. I held out as long as I could, but by 4pm the electricity stilled hadn’t returned and I was hungry. Not that I mind too much, I actually love an excuse to eat fried sweet potato from the street market. You pick out the slices you want and they are wrapped in a piece newspaper for you to take home. In this instance, the 2 slices I bought were gone before I reached the gate of the backpackers, by which time the electricity had of course returned.

Zambia produces its own electricity from a hydroelectric dam on the Zambezi river, but most of it is sold to South Africa. Almost every day I’ve been here has seen the electricity go out for at least a few hours, most often in the evenings. I haven’t actually been to the falls yet, but I’ve been told that it is dry during the day because the dam is closed. Apparently, you need to go very early in the morning or in the evening to see a big flow over the falls. I don’t think this is the case on the Zimbabwe side, but I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to compare.

In the meantime, I’ve found a way to help and do something useful while in Livingstone! Thanks to Marshall, one of my Peace Corps friends who was relocated to Zambia, I found out about an Italian NGO running an orphanage and training center just on the other side of town. They have a restaurant named Olga’s, which serves to raise money for the center, and is just down the road from the backpackers. I visited the restaurant on Saturday and spoke with Giovanni and Sister Josephine about volunteering. So tomorrow I will be going to see what I can help with. There is the possibility that my sewing skills may come in handy, or I may just play with the small children. Either way should be a lot of fun!

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