When I first agreed to join a Habitat for Humanity Global Village team to build houses in Zambia, I will admit, there were other African countries higher on my list. But the timing of the trip was good for my schedule and I knew although this would be my first visit to Africa, it wouldn’t be the last. Plus, there were some pretty darned cool things the itinerary said we’d do aside from the build, which of course, is the best of all.
One of my most memorable experiences was my first African safari in Kafue National Park, the second largest park in all of Africa. Among other fascinating creatures, it was there I met my now favorite African bird, the Guinea fowl. These Guinea fowl sort of look like chickens, but have a blue and orange head and a black body with white speckles. Much inspiration in the design world could come of this creature. I was so enamored that I bought a few yards of fabric bearing these lovely birds from a shop in Lusaka, an all time favorite souvenir.
Another of those “darned cool things” was a visit to the magnificent Smoke that Thunders – Victoria Falls. As if standing near the Falls wasn’t cool enough we took a flight in a Cessna 4-seater to watch the Zambezi dump itself over that huge precipice, as though the river itself decided to commit suicide. Spotting hippos in the water (from the air!) was the icing on the cake. “How does such a place even exist?” you ask yourself. And so I say, make the journey to Livingston on the board of Zambia and Zimbabwe to see, no, to hear the Falls. I promise you. Niagara will seem like a garden hose afterwards.
It was then that I pinched myself. Building houses in Kaoma – the best. My very first safari – definitely not the last. Seeing Victoria Falls – totally awe-inspiring. There’s more?
Turns out we saw an honest to goodness real, live, total solar eclipse. I mean, we just happened to be in Lusaka at the right time. However, as I learned, viewing a solar eclipse is a BIG deal to some people. They even have their own name: umbraphiles or eclipse chasers will travel the world over and over again to see the sun temporarily disappear behind the moon, as the moon passes between the sun and the earth. I’ll be the first to say it was a very very cool experience. It may be the only one I ever see with my naked eye. I am not sure I would buy an airline ticket for it, but whatever floats your boat.
And so I give you, Zambia. There is much more I could say. I believe my final words should be that my time there was well spent, completely and utterly sublime, mostly because of the Zambian people, exuberant, hard-working, take life as it comes types.