It’s been nearly three weeks since we landed in Lusaka, Zambia with our 3-year-old and 14 month old. My how the time flies!! It is bittersweet leaving our home, friends, and family in Chicago and starting a new life here in Lusaka.
On the upside the weather now in Zambia is perfection- warm and sunny every day and nice and cool in the evenings and at night. Our 3-year-old just started pre-school and L’Ecole Francaise Monday-Friday 7:30am-12:30pm. English is the national language here, but we decided that a French immersion would be helpful to our little traveler. She is also enrolled in ballet class, trying out a drama class, and there are lots of other classes for little ones to do here in Lusaka. There is a large-sized expat community with little children and babies, so there is also a lot of play groups and family oriented activities going on. It really is a lovely place to raise a family. The traffic is comparatively easy to manage, and I’ve quickly gotten used to driving on the left side of the road and learning the city’s roads without too much stress. It’s amazingly green and lush with many mature tree-lined streets and flowered boulevards, and surprisingly clean and clear of roadside trash compared to many places to which we have traveled.
On the downside we miss our friends and family back in the U.S., of course. It was also a hard decision to sell our home-base in Chicago and move completely to Zambia. It goes on the market in the coming week and it’s hard to imagine another family using our home. But life goes on. We look forward to coming back to the U.S. at least once a year and visiting family and friends then, and we hope that we get lots of visitors over the coming years! We wonder how many times we will visit Victoria Falls with visitors!
Overall, though, we are happy with our move here. Last year was a hectic one. I gave birth to Surya in January 2013 and Veda had just turned two that earlier December. My husband took off to Lesotho for work when Surya was only 3 weeks old, and when he was 6 weeks old in February I went to Haiti for work with both children and my mother to help care for them. We returned to Chicago for a few days, then happily reunited with my husband in the Abu Dhabi airport and traveled together to India in March where we visited with my husband’s family for a couple of weeks. From there we went to Sri Lanka and then Kenya for my work, took 3 weeks to road trip around southern France (where a close friend was getting married) and Barcelona, and then headed to Lesotho for two months for my husband’s work. We left Chicago in February and didn’t return home until October. It was a crazy year, and suddenly my little baby is running around and my three-year old is almost a fully self-functioning human being! In short, we look forward to “settling” in Zambia to work here, hopefully traveling for pleasure and not work.
So, from here on out I’ll be blogging about all things Zambia, with some posts on other places we visited this past year that I never got around to blogging about! For now I will start with a little list of all the things that so far have me falling in love with Lusaka, Zambia, and in later posts I will share logistical information about staying/ living in Lusaka with little ones and travel destinations in the country and region:
– Driving down Leopard’s Hill road with tall green grass and trees on either side and blue skies ahead, my windows rolled down and the breeze and sunshine forcing me to smile, and turning on the radio to hear Paula Abdul’s voice singing, “Baby, baby come to me.”
– Keeping the back door open and watching the kids run and around in the lovely yard delighted, happy, and naked, especially after leaving -15F weather in Chicago!
– Smiling, friendly, laid-back Zambians and foreigners who take the time to greet us and engage in conversation. Everyone here has been so helpful and informative.
– Incredibly slow service at restaurants that forces us to slow down, enjoy life, and have conversations.
– Comparatively nice police bribing experience. I went straight in a right-turn only lane on my second day driving and got flagged down by a female police officer. When she told me she was going to book me and give me a 500 kwacha (about US100) fine, I asked her to please forgive my mistake as I am new. “I want to help you, my sister,” she said, putting her arm gently on mine, “What can you give me so I can help you?” I was on my way after slipping her a 100 kwacha bribe (about US20), which I wasn’t happy about, but at least I went on with my day quickly.
– Abundance of lovely fresh veggies and fruits, especially compared to many places we travel to. Huge, beautiful succulent mangoes and avocados available through my car window as I am stopped at a red light. Nectarines!!!!! I thought I would miss those lovely fruits as they are often unavailable in these parts are way too expensive, but those along with beautiful plump green grapes are here.
– Cultural acceptance of open breastfeeding. I don’t get this everywhere I travel, nor in the U.S. I still breastfeed my 14 month old, and it’s nice to not worry about offending people. Not that I do much worrying about that, anyway, after continuously breastfeeding one or both of my children for the past 3 years, 4 months and counting.
– Family-friendly work environments! Many people leave work to pick up their children from school and eat lunch at home, and most people keep sane business working hours. *Sigh of relief.*
– Easy access to an abundance of beautiful places nearby- Victoria Falls, Zambezi River, elephant orphanages, lion sanctuaries, and game parks in Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, etc. South Africa is also a short distance away with Capetown and all the rest of spectacular beauty that country has to offer. And there are zebras in our backyard where we are currently staying!
Life is good and I feel now I can slow down a bit here and really enjoy all the precious moments with my quickly growing children!