Why not? Part Two

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA — I have said it before and it holds true six weeks on — I have never met more caring, kind, considerate people in one place in more than half a century of travel than I have here.

There are bad things here, some, like the laws against same-sex intermingling (that can and do land people in PRISON), like the weekly habit the police seem to have of engaging in “an exchange of gunfire,” that adds up to capital punishment without the trial and appeals, like the habit mobs of bystanders seem to have of not waiting for the police, and thus saving their bullets for another day, by beating suspects to death . . . that make me sad to be happy here.

But those haven’t been my experiences. Except for the pain of knowing about them.

My experiences have been the people who stopped by the side of the road until both my self-inflicted flat tires were fixed, who make sure I understand their directions by repeating them again and then writing them down, and who now, where I am stationed, share everything they can think of that is good about their country with me — travel tips, bureacracy navigation tips, complaints about the opposite gender, and food.

Which is why I ate a fried caterpillar the other day.

And why I shared an nshima lunch, eaten with the fingers today. And, on command, even said Amen, after the pre-meal prayer, when I was told to.

The only hard part to coming halfway came later today, when one of my co-workers asked me what church I go to.

I was more ready to navigate than last time, which was when the hotel waitress asked me, but less ready to be baldly honest.

It started the same way: I don’t go to church.

Continued the same way: (intake of breath) Why not?!

(a cultural commentary on my part, I thought would distract from the question): People in America don’t go as much . . .

You don’t go to church?

(More than anything I don’t believe in lying about this kind of thing, but have nothing against moldable truth, which I think religion tends to be all about anyway):
I go to other people’s churches . . .

Which ones have you been to here?

I haven’t been to one here yet . . . Which one do you go to?

The fried caterpillar, you see, was much less of a leap.

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One Response

  1. Jesus, woman!! (Pun intended). Just go to church once already so people will stop asking. I would take that over the caterpillar.

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