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One very special afternoon during my stay in Zambia was spent visiting two local villages. And the best part about it was that instead of doing it as a tour such as, we worked with a local from one of the villages whom we met at his stall in the Mukuni market in Livingstone (

So, that day, after we were done with our volunteer work, we headed to the market to meet up with Oliver who would both arrange a ride for us to the villages and come with us to guide us and introduce us to people there.

And the adventure started with the ride, we somehow fit 9 people in a taxi made for 6, and headed out of town. Of course, since we we over the passenger limit we needed to take a detour almost immediately to avoid a traffic inspection point. This involved driving down some very sandy roads which would have been much better handled by a safari jeep, of course that would have cost us a lot more.

Once we were back on the main road it didn’t take us long to reach the turn off for the village, ands although we were now close to our destination, the rest of the way was more sandy roads so the small distance left took more time that we had already travelled. And the overloaded car struggled a bit as well, with the bumper coming off a few times. Of course, the driver only saw this as a small problem.


Before reaching the first village, we stopped at the dry river bed, a sign of just how bad the water situation is these days in the area.


I that same area, land was being actively burned in order to make it easier for the villagers to hunt. I really want to do more research into this technique to see if there is some upside to this that they are reaping without knowing about it, such as aiding in the germination of certain seeds in the same way that certain pine seeds are only propagated after a forest fire causing the need for controlled burns or the way prairies need to burn on a regular basis to stay healthy, again calling for assistance now that many natural sources of such fires have been removed.


Upon reaching the village we were quite surprised to find that they had prepared lunch for us, I can’t even try to tell you how amazing this is, since they have so little and yet they were so open to sharing what they have. In addition, the food pretty much worked a miracle, my stomach had been off all morning and I hadn’t been able to eat much, but this food, super natural, was a quick cure, and I was able to eat everything that they offered. It was quite a welcome change from all of the highly processed, preservative ladder foods I had been eating for the past weeks.




After the meal, we were presented with an interactive demo of how they make the products that they eat. Starting with cord, they shuck it, then grind it multiple times, removing the husks at each step, to yield various products that can be cooked in different ways. The two main items that are produced from the corn are nshima (, pronounced shee-mah which is formed into a cake like dish which is in a way similar to polenta and another where the grains remain more recognizable.





Generally, in Africa, maize is used as a fairly nutritious staple (

In addition, we got to just observer village life and meet a few very new villagers, yes those two girls are twins!




After this, we walked to another area of the village, which gave us a sense of just how remote we were, and also showed us more how friendly these people are.



And how self-sufficient they are.


After this, we headed to another, large village where we meet more friendly people going about their daily tasks.



Of course, it was a lot easier to meet folks when most of them are related to your guide. If I remember correctly, Oliver had 24 brothers and sisters, some of whom he didn’t know since they were children of one of his father’s other two wives rather than his mom’s.

Finally, it was time to leave, and we had a great parting sunset as we made it back out to the main road.



It seems that no matter where one goes I the world, shopping is part of any trip. And despite having very full bags, there was no exception to that rule in Zambia. I had to be good, and severely limit my purchases, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t look around and experience the various offerings.

The first market that one finds in Livingstone is the Mukuni market. It is where the folks from the surrounding villages sell there artistic goods.


With 50 individual stalls, there are many opportunities to buy, as well as many vendors vying for your attention to purchase their goods over somebody else’s. However, when you need change and they don’t have it, there always seems of be a sister or an aunt nearby that can help. Sometimes they have change, but other times they try to get you to take more things home with you instead of providing the money.

Not too far away from Mukuni is a more local market with things folks need on a daily basis, as well as many shops with backpacks and purses, and some with hardware items. I didn’t shop there often, but it was always interesting to wander through that street to get a feel for the local vibe.



For anything that I wanted to buy to supplement the food provide at the volunteer house, I would generally go to ShopRite. There were two of them, and the one that we frequented was quite new and very large with a fantastic selection.

Other than these places, on two occasions a group of us set on to find a specific vendor or market.

The first of these forays was to find the friend of one of the workers in the house who made some quite nice beaded jewelry and a few other similar things. Getting there was a challenge given that the hand drawn map we were following wasn’t quite to scale.


But the walk was interesting, allowing us to see a new area of the town, and thus giving us more of a feel of local life. This was especially so since here we saw many less taxis as just about everyone was walking to get where they needed to be.

In the end we found it and bought many of the things he had. By the time we finished making our purchases, we were surrounded by 10-15 kids bouncing on tires with excitement of seeing 3 mzungus in their neighborhood.



He also sold his paintings, but given the lack of wall space that I have back home, I avoided buying these there or at any of the other markets.

The other spot that we visited was another local market, Maramba.



Similar to the local market I mentioned earlier, this market had many things folks would need on a daily basis.



In addition, and the main reason we went there, they sell chitenge ( very cheap there. For example, the cheapest ones are 7-8 kwacha there and 30 or more pat Mukuni, depending on your bargaining skills.


Since I don’t plan on wearing these back home as designed, the less expensive, synthetic, ones will be turned into other clothing items and the more expensive, silkier ones will be used as scarves.

In the end, I don’t think I bought too much, for a change, and was able to get everything into my bags for the trip onward.

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