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Thursday, 19 August 2004

Mad, It's All Mad I Tell You

Woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, having realised that my second tourist visa was about to run out. So I blagged a ride on the project’s trip in to Ndola, to see if my work permit has somehow miraculously appeared. When we left immigration in Lusaka at the beginning of August, they had promised to find the blessed thing and send it on northwards. Immigration in Ndola is also staffed by fierce ladies. One had a hairstyle like knitted barbed wire; she was very frightening. They nudged a handwritten exercise book of the latest permit arrivals from Lusaka across the table at me. Mine was not listed. I asked about getting my passport stamped again whilst waiting for the permit. Barbwirelady spoke the dreaded words about not being in the country while they’re processing it. Hang on, haven’t we already been here? Groundhog Day via Vic Falls?? I had dragged The Husband along together with his work permit (woo woo lucky him). I showed them my name listed as his wife in his permit (wow, is this emancipation????) and suddenly they were busy little bees madly stamping my passport. I am now allowed to reside here with The Husband. But not work. So clearly I won’t be doing any of that, as I wouldn’t want to be doing anything illegal now would I?

We try to buy a crate of Coke in town. Surreal conversation ensues. You can’t buy a crate of Coke unless you have a crate of empties. Where do we get the empties from? Well you drink the Coke, then bring us the empty bottles. Ok, can we buy a crate of bottles full of Coke? No, you have to bring us the empties. Where do we get the empties from? Well…

It probably would have been easier to procure some coke-coke.

We go to the garden centre to see if they have any plants. It’s a very nice shop but they only have cabbage. Cabbage seed, cabbage plants, cut cabbage, going-off cabbage, ornamental cabbage. Place smelt like a rubbish dump.

We go to the bank to get some money out of the ATM. Machines are broken. Go all around town trying different banks. All machines in town broken. Have to cadge money off Chief. It’s not much, so instead of waltzing round Shoprite chucking things in the trolley, we are totalling it up as we go along…potatoes 90p…ooh can we afford a bag of salt, it’s 10p? (I did sneak in some chocolate though).

On the way home Chief stops off at a mission. He is on a mission. To find three blind men (not a joke) to dig a well. This is the fourth time he has been to look for them. They’re not blind, they’re fucking invisible.

When we get home, Milly has left some paw-paws for us. I guess she found them lying around. As you do. They are a bit bashed, so I am going to attempt to make jam. I tell ya, that Nigella better watch out. There is a stonking cookbook on its way!