Thursday, 15 July 2004

International Diplomacy

The Great Town Trip
Today I cadge a lift in to Ndola with one of the project vehicles. Getting in to town is a pig – there is a 6km forest trail, followed by a 16km dirt road with not much traffic, before hitting the tarmac where you can hitch-hike. I need to get some groceries. I spend about 30 minutes getting some food, and about 12 hours sitting in the van while business is attended to.

Petrol Station Politics
In town I meet some nice Somali men whilst hanging about a petrol station on one of our interminable ‘stops for business’. I know where Somalia is, I used to work with some cool Somali people, so we chat about that. Then they ask me where I am from. Ireland. Oh, UK. No, Ireland. Wales? One of them is obsessed with Wales. I explain how Britain owns part of Ireland but that I am from the Republic. There is a brief pause. Oh, you hate UK! I sigh. Politics doesn’t travel. I wonder if I can apply to somewhere like Moldova for citizenship?

The Bar Bar None
When I get home I hack into some mini bars of chocolate I've purchased. There are five of them sort of strung together with a piece of cardboard at the top. (When I was little neighbours with money used to go on posh holidays to Spain - imagine! - and bring us back sour fizzy sweets wrapped like this.) From the packaging and the ingredients I gather they are Mars bars. I eat one and it tastes nothing like a Mars bar. I eat another. No, not really getting that MB kick. I work my way through all five before coming to the definitive conclusion that they are really nothing at all like Mars bars. This is no mean feat as there are no perforations between bar wrappers - just paper, glue, bar, paper, glue, bar etc – rendering them difficult to get into. At the end it looks like a snake has shed its skin.