Saturday, September 20, 2014


Nope, nothing profound going on here, just pretty flowers in my garden.  We finally hired a gardener to teach our gardener...lo and behold now we have a lovely and over-productive vegetable garden that sprang up where once there was only snake and rat habitat!  We've not had this for all the 6 years we've been in this house. The garden area has been 'a hot mess' despite the ongoing composting and the health of the soil there (and ONLY there). Now there are tidy rows of corn, peas, radish, tomatoes, parsley, basil, coriander, strawberries, squash, spinach, watermelon. It's 6 years this month since we moved to this house!  Wow!  Despite the weird story of HOW we came to call this place home, it's been a good move from the start.

World's Strongest Man

Continuing with the "WHY NOT?" theme .... Let's move the picture-party to the outskirts of Lusaka for the taping of a competition that is 30 years running.  The show's concept was first branded in 1977. It's unclear to me if this competition is PART of the actual World's Strongest Man OFFICIAL franchise of if it is in fact a spin-of from this International Federation of Strength Athletes-sanctioned or if it is a separate beast that came after the 2004 scism. And, I have no idea what I'm talking about so, let me just show you the spectacle that took up the better part of our Saturday.

So...the photo above is funny for a few reasons but mostly because the very enthusiastic guy in the back is our friend, and he is posing for me, he's not *actually* cheering.  This fellow is flying to the UK tonight in fact to wait with his wife for the arrival of their first 'strong-baby'.

The playing field. 8 very big, very strong men.

 Above, Serbia.  Below, Poland (the victor of the Zambia event).

 Sure they can get 100 kgs of cement to the truck 20 meters away (x 3), but can these guys carry 20L of water on their heads for 5K with a baby on their back and a load of firewood under their arm? 

Circolo Italiano e Portico (aka the birthday party)

For this futbol "match of year" the ref had a RED card, a YELLOW card and... a BIRTHDAY card!  This meant the birthday boy was given random and occasional penalties: 12 pushups, 12 laps, 12 jumping jacks, etc. If they were behind, they would have gotten 12 shots on goal but the game was pretty even.  Thankfully we only had minor injuries and a few clocks being cleaned.  It was fun to have the kids play on turf tho they learned quickly that turf burns...burn! OUCH!

I continue to be so impressed with these kids and not only their skill and athleticism but...their most excellent sense of fair play.  The little guys often have the upperhand on the playground and at team practices because the older/bigger kids are ... too nice!  What a great problem!

Did I mention it was HOT?  oof.  The ref (aka the dad) proposed 20 minute halves. 
We managed to get down 20L of frozen lemonade in the course of the game.

Below, looks like *someone* is pleased with himself!

Check out the crowd! There were about 200+ fans -- they were cheering the kids on (especially the ka-small boy) and were even persuaded to sing the birthday boy a song.  Very sweet. (especially considering they were taking a break from practicing their military exercises in the adjacent field! I would have asked for photos but I know this is verbotin and felt lucky to just get this shot as evidence!

We finished the game with a penalty shootout (for practice, not to settle the score). 

We popped a few blood vessels trying to blow up balloons.  

A HUGE thanks to the Pizolo at Portico for a delicisoso meal.

Sign of the times

If you want to hear a broken record just ask me about SIGNS in Lusaka.  I could go on and on about sings.  How horrible, how distracting, how poorly designed, how brilliantly designed, how inappropriate or ugly or just wrong.  I think that someone is making a MESS of money on selling ad space.  They are ridiculously expensive to 'rent' and increasingly...there are so many that you need to have a series to make any impact.  Or they need to be bigger, or brighter!  Or...they need to be digital.  One small roundabout in a heavy traffic area now has TWO competing digital signs along with billboards in the middle and on all sides.  As a driver, I find this annoying and as a designer, I find this just distasteful.  To show what I mean, here are the signs on a SMALL stretch of road that I travel regularly (between the Arcades Roundabout and the Munali Roundabout. Ignore the fancy street lights. those don't actually work.

First up are the SFH Male Circumcision ads.  Were is not for this ad, I would not know how to spell circumcision.  (I had to correct it twice just now, maybe I need to see more MC ads?)

Next up is the Zamtel series with the Zamtel flyover billboard. The only time I have seen anyone on that pedestrian overpass is when they use it to change the signs.  The eucalyptus trees on the right mark the northern boundary of the University of Zambia campus.  It is the perfect spot for a bridge with bus stops on either side.  But when there are huge gaps in the fence that one can duck thru and try to dodge the speeding cars to save a few minutes...what the heck, why not go for it!  (I'm being sarcastic).  For now, this is the Zamtel zone.

At the university entrance a few (maybe 3) condom ads snuck in.  These ads, with apologies to SFH/PSI....they are just not very lovely. They are weird and creepy.  And the kids always ask about them.

These are interspersed with the another telcom provider MTN (yellow).

 Last but not least is the third tel-com providor stretch of Great East, Airtel. These ads all feature the bizarro 'Airtel Money' dude.  He (and it's definitely a "HE"; the digital dude needs a new tailor beccause those skinny pants look MIGHTY uncomfortable) goes on until the roundabout I think. Funny enough, the Coke truck blends right in.

At every corner it seems every business feels compelled to put up their own sign.  This is one of the few NAMED and SIGNED streets.  I always think...If the STREET had an acutal NAME maybe people would feel confident about using directions instead of landmarks.  But now the signs block the street name and unless you lived here pre-signs, you really wouldn't know that this is Central Street.  If you lived here a LOT longer you would know this as the location of Hibiscus.  I love giving directions to people who have been in Lusaka a long time because they can find our house, no problem.  "Remember Hibiscus Restaurant?"  "YES! On Central?" "Turn there!" Simple. Easy.

I"ll have to write a post soon about giving/getting directions here.  Landmarks change so quickly but the directions do not.

Marco Polo

After the cattle auction, we walked over to the polo field for a cold drink...and they had a tournament going on.  This is a whole other scene and a sport we also know nothing about.  I'm sure if we had asked, we would have been clued in but sometimes it's best not to know why a grown man is astride his horse wearing a pink apron.   Some of the kids mates from soccer and from school were participating.  Good fun.

 A Portico favourite:  a round of Malawi Shandies. (above)  Small, skilled riders, below.  

no Bull

We attended the annual cattle + livestock auction in Lusaka a few weeks back.  Why?  (Like many things we find ourselves doing here, we ask this question ourselves. There is only one answer: why not!)


 real rancher, real hat (above, and below?) quite clearly, the tourists

WELCOME! (We thought this was really funny.)