Village Life

In 40°C (104°F), we walked, took a collective taxi (a sardine can of people), another taxi to finally arrive 3 hours later at Sichilonge; a small Zambian village of 110 people near Victoria Falls. No electricity. No tap water. No (gasp) internet and no paved roads. Wait, it gets more interesting: want to pee? Go behind the curtain in the living area. Want to poop? Go outside, in the bush. Can anyone live like that? Yes, millions of people in villages around the globe. That’s how their parents, grandparents and ancestors lived and they all survived.
When we arrived, we sought shelter under the fruit trees and enjoyed some “monkey oranges” (ball shaped fruit that contains sweet tart seeds. You suck on them then spit them out). Our hosts welcomed us in their courtyard. The house consists of 3 straw huts and a curtained area (for peeing) surrounded by a straw fence. We were offered locally brewed beer and chatted with the men while the women prepared food, all in the courtyard. How do you prepare food with no stove, no fridge, no sink? They started by slaughtering a chicken. Boiled, fried and sauteed the chicken with some tomatoes and onions on a campfire: rocks arranged to hold the pot in place on top of burning firewood. Then they prepared the famous Nchima (corn polenta), also on the campfire.
3 hours later, food was ready and we started eating after dark, using torch light when necessary. Scooping up the saucy chicken with the Nchima using our hands, which we rinsed in water before and after eating. Doesn’t get rid of the grease but you get used to it, with difficulty. After dinner, the whole village gathered around a campfire, under the stars. We sang, danced and played games. While the adults were conservative in their dance moves, the children were uninhibited. Their dance moves explicitly mimicked copulation. In Nature, love making is all around you; animals, insects, humans, not just the birds and the bees. Kids mimic their surroundings without filters. It was refreshing to see life before shame.
The next morning we woke up to the sounds of goats, chicken, cows and other Nature sounds. The women started their day by washing the pots and plates from last night’s dinner. There is a well with a pump in the village. People take buckets and jugs, fill up and walk back carrying the full containers on their heads (women) and their shoulders (men). In the absence of refrigeration, food needs to be processed and dried. When an animal is killed, all the parts are used. During the day, people engage in various activities; food preparation, fishing, carving…etc, or hanging out under trees drinking and chatting. Children are running around, playing, picking and eating mangoes and other fruit from the trees and some go to school. The older kids have to walk 2 hours one way to school. It’s actually safe for kids to walk by themselves. Imagine that!
I have to admit though: after one day, I was ready to leave. With the scorching heat and no rain, I was melting. The hardest part was the lack of running water and toilets. When lying still under trees didn’t succeed in cooling me down, I stuck my head under the water pump. I was dry within 20 minutes. The only thing that kept me going was dance. Someone was using solar panels to power speakers and had Zambian dance music blasting. I started dancing and like magic, all the tiredness and boredom disappeared.

In conclusion, I’m sad to report that I’m still a city girl, no matter how much I deny it.

#zambia #village #villagelife #sichilonge #africa #africanvillage #africanvillagelife #noelectricity #nointernet #norunningwater #strawhut #nature #travel #travellife #travelphotography #travelblog


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