My last day in Mbeya, I bought a ticket to my next destination: Lusaka, Zambia. you show up in African bus stations and a swarm of people surround you asking where you’re going. Everyone tries to pull you onto their bus, and when you choose one, the guys who lost out do a lot of shouting and shoving. Mbeya was no different and the guy who I chose took me to his sketchy office to buy my ticket. Since the buses are not licensed to carry people all the way to Lusaka, I was told I would have to get off the bus at the border, get my visa, walk across, and find the agent who would get me onto a bus on the other side. I was convinced I had been frauded again and would never see a bus in Zambia. Surprisingly though the agent met me at the border, helped me the entire way, and got me onto the Zambian bus.
Even though it was another 18 hours to Lusaka, the trip was vastly better than the Tanzanian one. This bus had air conditioning, seats that leaned back, and a toilet on board! I had never experienced these luxuries in East Africa. My greatest fear in traveling overnight was arriving too early in Lusaka while it was still dark. Being white in an African city by yourself at night is usually not the greatest idea, especially when you haven’t made arrangements for your hotel yet. Thankfully, we pulled into town just as the sun rose over the horizon.
Since there aren’t famous sights or tourist attractions in Lusaka, my goal was to make as many connections as possible. I met with a guy who works for Zambikes, a local company making hand-made bamboo bicycles – among other products – and the Zambian director of Campus Crusade for Christ. It was fun meeting people, sharing meals, and finding more about the country through the locals.
It’s really interesting to compare the countries I’m visiting now to Kenya where I’ve spent the most time. Making an analogy, I would say Zambia is to Europe as Kenya is to the US. Zambia is a little more refined, nicer and more organized while Kenya is fast-paced, busy and where things are happening. A final note on my sleeping arrangements: sharing a room with Africans is terrible. They wake up exactly at the crack of dawn every day, and begin turning the light on, joking and laughing in the room. When I told them that people were trying to sleep they laughed at me, said it was 6 O’clock already and kept talking.