As i still don't have my work permit, i am in this country on a visitor's visa. the visa is only good for 30 days but can be renewed twice. as you know i've now been here for 2 and a bit months. so i've had to renew my visa already. i was supposed to renew my visa again on the first of March, but the immigration official has been away. everytime that we call he is not there, so i am (sort of) illegally in the country. i am still waiting for my work permit to be finished so i can pick it up. unfortunately this means that i have to fly down to Lusaka as no one else is allowed to pick it up for me. please pray that my permit will be completed soon as i have a flight booked to Lusaka for March 24th. Although it is MUCH cheaper to drive, the roads (as i've said before) are absolutely horrible right now and pretty near impassible. plus, i don't have a zambian driver's liscence and even if i did, i'd get lost before i left ikelenge! so i will be flying on the small plane (not my favourite thing to do) and staying in Lusaka for a few days until my permit is sorted out and i can get a flight back. this will leave the staff here a bit stretched as i will need someone to cover my classes for 2.5 days. so again, prayer for this whole situation would be greatly appreciated!
yesterday i went into ikelenge (the "booming metropolis") to again try to get my visa updated but as he wasn't there Lina, Miss Margie Young and I decided to do some shopping! :) of course, this is fun even if you're not intended to by anything. the "main drag" consists of a row of small shops lining either side of the 'road'. these shops are about the size of the average bathroom back home. inside is often very dark even if they have electricity they don't often turn it on. the walls are floor to ceiling shells covered in whatever the latest trucks were able to bring in. the amusing thing is that most shops carry the exact same stuff for the exact same prices. we did a bit of grocery shopping picking up items such as bread (which i normally make at home but have run out of flour), oil, matches, cokes and rice. then we went "clothes" shopping. although you can now actually buy clothes and shoes in the shops, we were really just looking at the chitanges. chitanges are large pieces of fabric about 1.5 metres in length. they have all sorts of paterns and colours, there are never any "plain" ones. these are used for all sorts of purposes. you can use them simply as material to cut out and make into clothes etc, most women wear them as a wrap around skirt. they are also used to tie children onto their back in a sling-like fashion. these are the main uses but they can be used for whatever you can imagine and things you would never imagine. quite versitile really! I have picked up a few already to wear as wraps. yesterday we had fun shopping in the different shops and picking out several patterns/colours we liked. we gathered a small crowd who followed us from shop to shop looking in the window and shouting "enga chachiwahi!" (yes, it is well/good) or "hichachiwahi" (it is not well) depending on wether or not they thought we should get a particular one. it was quite fun. :) some of the paterns were quite pretty, some not so much and others just made us laugh and say "only in africa". i was going to attempt to explain this to those who have never been here, but i think it's quite impossible. there are somethings that are so uniquely "african" or "zambian" that unless you been here and seen or experienced them it's quite impossible to understand. anyhow, after our little shopping trip we realized we had to leave in a hurry as Lina and i were supposed to be supervising free swim back at the school. we had quite the bumpy ride back as Margie was trying to rush to get us back in time! As it was we didn't have time to change into our swim suits as we normally would join the kids for a swim. we weren't too sure if we should even take the children down to the pool/river as the sky was looking rather ominously black! however, there was no thunder or lightning so down we went. by the time we got down there it had started to rain, just as the children were getting into the water it began to pour! still there was no thunder and lightening and we could still see the children through the rain, so we continued to let them swim. within 10 minutes Lina and i were looking rather like drowned rats, the children of course were having a ball! i began to sing "I'm singing in the rain" and as Lina (the music teacher) had just taught hte children this a few weeks ago they all joined in. it was quite fun really. i nearly jumped in the water to spash around with the kids, but i figured i just might drown from the weight of my already soaking wet denim skirt! after free swim was over Lina and i climbed back up the hill, slipping and sliding in the mucky clay and singing at the top of our lungs "if all the raindrops were lemondrops and gumdrops..." we certainly got a workout as we were both wearing soaking wet denim skirts and it's a steep hill on a regular day! afeter nice hot showers we sat down with tea and goodies from the package that had just arrived for Lina to watch a video. what a wonderful saturday afternoon!:)