The girls have gone back to Canada, and I am now living in my apartment in the city. When I dropped Erin and Emily off at the airport yesterday, I kept thinking – Ok, this is it now, time to get settled for real. It’s one thing to feel like you’re getting settled when your friends are around. But once they go, that’s the real deal. It gets a lot quieter. I’m so thankful that God worked it out that they would be here once I arrived – It did make the transition much smoother, and made my first couple of weeks back to Zambia so memorable!
After dropping the girls off at the airport, Nelson (my friend, and the VOH driver) dropped me off at home and started walking to the bus. “Wait! Aren’t you taking the truck back?” Nope – he told me that it was all mine now. He had taken me out to practice on the dirt roads in Chongwe twice. Did I mention that it’s standard? I’ll get back to that later.
Today I woke up and was excited that it was a new day. My plan was to get out and walk around my area to see what was around. I love exploring. It’s my favourite thing to do in a new place. Just walk and see what you find. First of all, this community is beautiful. Lusaka is a busy city, but I live off one of the main round-abouts and it’s a lot quieter. People were so friendly, and I only got a couple “Muzungu!” (foreigner). I walked down the street, found a little grocery store and a place to buy minutes for my phone – and I thought that it was all so perfect, I’m close enough to all the essentials. I never have to drive!
But then I got the bright idea to walk back home, get in the truck and practice on my own. I figured I would do so much better on my own with no one telling me where to turn, or that I was releasing the clutch too fast – sheesh.
So I got in the truck and started to drive. It wasn’t even that bad! Especially since I purposely went on a road that had no cars or people. Then I got to the main street and had to turn. I stalled – oops. So I started the truck and then stalled again. Let me just paint a picture for you. A guy across the street stopped what he was doing and stood there staring. Then a construction truck came up behind me with a line up of vehicles behind him. I stalled again. Now there were cars honking, and that guy still staring at me. The guy in the truck came out of his vehicle and said to me, “what is the matter with your vehicle?” “I’m so sorry – I’m just getting used to driving here.” He was so sweet, said it was ok, and got back in his truck and waved as he drove past. I thought it would be nice to let everyone behind me pass me while I just waited ;). And guess what, that guy was still standing there staring – I’m so glad I provided some entertainment for him this afternoon, ugh!
Once there was not a vehicle in sight, I made the turn and went straight home. I got in the house and was shaking like crazy, and started to laugh. You have to, right? If not, I would have just cried. That was enough practice for one day, and tomorrow is a new day (where someone is picking me up to take me to the village – thankfully!)
I’m learning (slowly) that this year is going to be filled with many new things – that are going to stretch me beyond my comfort zone. One thing in particular is letting go of wanting to be so independent. I love the idea of getting in my car, doing my thing and never having to rely on anyone for help. I love to go go go and feel guilty when I take time to rest. This will be a year filled with many new lessons to learn. For instance, there’s nothing like stalling on a busy street, with people watching and honking at you, to makes you realize that it’s ok to take it slow at the beginning, get familiar with my surroundings and for goodness sake ask for help when I need it.
I should mention that Nelson has been a great driving teacher. He was so nice and took me to a place where not only did I have to watch out for cars and people, but cows too! “You must always be prepared” he tells me. And he’ll take me out practicing until I’m comfortable – definitely thankful for that 🙂