I dropped James and Pastor Gomez off at the bus station today in town. They were heading up to the copperbelt for the next module. We were coming from church so we had all 9 of us plus 3 suitcases and 2 backpacks in the car.
It was quite the experience.
Last time James went to Ndola on the bus he had to wait 5+ hours sitting on the bus here in Lusaka.
He had been told which bus to look for that leaves on the scheduled time. But they lied to him about the bus. So he sat and waited until it filled up, so 5 hours later he was on the road.
He even said that they bus company will pay people off the street to come and sit on the bus and make it "look" like it is filling up only for them all to slowly get off one by one and you see (after your ticket has been bought) that there is still no one on the bus heading that direction and you have to wait some more.
So this time he wanted to be sure before they bought the tickets and hauled all the luggage out.
So we pulled into the bus stop and then had 3 guys chasing the car. "Zambia-Malawi?", "Lusaka-Livingstone?" and then he threw out a few other names. No, No, No.
James kept shaking his head and then found a place to stop and pull over. He hopped out, I got into the driver's seat and then waited.
He found the right bus, came back for his wallet to buy the tickets. He then said I could park the car and he would find us to get the luggage.
So I saw the car park area and then about 4 different guys proceeded to direct me to an empty parking space. Right in front of a huge lot of eggs that were being packed into boxes to carry on the bus.
Then we started to be harassed by the guys. Can they wash my car. No. Can they at least wipe my windows. No. Can I give them money. No. Can I buy them some food. No.
Then they went over to Pastor Gomez window and were saying, "Yes Boss. please, we can wash the car…" Then back to my side of the car, "Mama…we have never seen people like you…"
So as the Zambians would say at this point, and "Blah blah blah". They were more aggressive even without making eye contact that I decided to back out of the parking space and move closer to where James and all the buses were.
This of course made them mad because they after all had "helped me" to find a place to park.
As I found a place near the buses to stop I saw James coming over so Pastor Gomez and I got out and he took some of the luggage with him and I waited with the rest.
I saw the ice cream man driving his bicycle by so I got something for the kids as I was standing by the car with the bags. Pastor Gomez stayed by the bus, and James came back to get the bags. Then a man with an orange vest came over and asked me could I not read the sign. "What sign?". The one painted on the wall of a shop behind me that said no parking, 30,000 K fine.
I told him, I was not parking just unloading the bags and then I collected my change and the ice cream bars for the kids. He seemed ok with my response, that basically I wasn't paying and I was leaving now anyway. So literally as the man handed me my 5,000 change for the ice cream James came to get the stuff, then a boy and a blind man came over begging for money, the orange vest man said I could at least buy him an ice cream and then James gave me a hug as he left. I quickly opened the car door gave the kids the stuff, and walked around to the other side of the car which then the guys with the parking spot that wanted to wash my car came over to where I was and said, "You are starving me. I am hungry. Buy me some food. " To which I replied, no I am not starving. He said yes I know, but you are starving me. I meant to say I am not starving you, but It came out I am not starving. Which then sounded really dumb because yeah he knows and I know that I am not starving!
But that is the first time that "line" was used on me. That because I didn't buy him something or give him something, I was starving him. hmm.
SO I moved as quickly as I could to the other side of the car which had 2 other guys standing there, one asking for ice cream and the other one said, "Where is my hug?" ( I guess he had seen me hug James goodbye). "Please mama give me a hug too, before I die! "
I ignored him and jumped in the car ( pretty literally) locked the doors and (tried ) to speed away.
Well evidentially the bus station is one way. So I didn't know that and started driving back the way we came. To which more guys were motioning with their hands, shouting at me and other things. When I realized what they were saying I turned around, but not before the orange vested man and his buddy came over to the car. I unrolled the window a crack and then He told me there was a fine for driving the wrong way. Absurd! Just out to get me and my money. So I rolled up the window and did something I haven't really done much. maybe ever.I drove away. Fast.
I mean a bit crazily…Like the people all standing around were watching, and I was so ready to be out of there. My goal once we dropped James off was to just get out quick and without anymore harassment, or people asking for anything. I made it to the entrance way and got behind a big bus pulling out of the station. I saw in my rear view mirror the 2 orange vest guys running toward my car. I squeezed between the bus and another car and then drove on the shoulder until I reached the main road. Just as the bus started turning onto the road, you know how huge and slow those things are, I decided to make a go for it and jumped out as he was pulling out. I made it safely after I quickly dodged the oncoming car in the other lane that was slowing down for the bus anyway.
So the kids cheered as we made it out of that place!
They didn't hear the comment about the hug so I was relaying that to them as we drove home.
When I told them he said, Give me a hug before I die, one of them said, …"Well then, die away!"... considering it was a creepy guy who we didn't know AND it was my teenage daughter that made the comment. She was right on. Good response sweetie.