(Due to a lack of internet access I have been writing this over time. I will have access now so that each entry should be current.)
I have been in Zambia for a week now and things are still somewhat “up in the air.” The house is not completed enough to move into but my being here has stepped up the pace of the work. Until I am able to move in I think it will remain so. I am not sure when that might be. I hope that it will be sooner rather than later because I did not plan on paying for lodging when I arrived. We will try to complete our bedroom sufficiently that I can live out of it until the rest comes together. I will eat with Charles and his family for the time being.
Later on this morning (it is now about 3:30) we plan to head to Lusaka. Our main task is to submit paperwork to extend my work permit and to add Audrey to it as a spouse. We will also need to move around and price some materials for the house. Another task is to stop at I-Connect and arrange for Wi-Fi service. I am not sure what that will entail so it will be a learning experience. I need it as soon as I can because I am dependent on internet cafes which are notoriously slow and require being there during business hours.
I also need to price appliances for the house. We will need a refrigerator, freezer, washer and dryer. I also looked yesterday at a solar water heater that was very reasonably priced. I am thinking about going that direction instead of an electric one. I know that there is plenty of sun during most of the year but am not sure how it would do during the rainy season and in the evenings. We will see. We have also looked at a 2000 liter water tank for the house. The water heater is priced at 1,750 (zkw) kwacha (about $250) and the water tank at 2,500 zkw (about $350).
Flooring for the house will be local flat stone. Audrey said that she liked it and I do as well. It will give the house a rustic look inside but I believe that I like that as opposed to ceramic tiles. They look nice but tend to be somewhat slippery when wet. In addition they can break if anything really hard is dropped. The stone will not break once it is laid so that seems more practical. But in the end I prefer that look.
At this time the electrician is putting in fixtures but has not run the wiring just yet. Paperwork is submitted to bring the electric from the pole to the house. Using a solar water heater will save the cost of using electric to heat water. The plumber has connected the lines to the septic system but has not begun on the water fixtures in the house. When we are in Lusaka I need to price a booster pump to move the water from the tank into the house so as to have water pressure. At some point I will need to look at a generator for the times when power is lost. Charles mentioned that they have some like back in the states where the generator comes on automatically if the power goes off. I do not know how expensive that might be but it could be really important.
A couple of years ago the Chinese put in two new generators at Kariba Dam. There were originally four when the dam was built in the 1950’s. They are now on line (or were). The problem has come from the fact that Zambia in now in a cycle where the rains have not been particularly good in the Zambezi’s watershed area (Western Zambia). That coupled with the additional release of water from the lake to generate has left the lake really low. It is so low that the new generators have now been taken off line. If the water level goes too low they will not be able to generate power at all. In addition the Chinese are to add two more generators to the Zimbabwe side. It seems like really poor management to me. Zambia sells power to at least three other countries. They have dropped their export to the bare minimum to fulfill their contract. But the result has been daily periods in Lusaka where power it turned off for a number of hours. If that happens here it will pose real challenges. So a back-up generator for the house may prove to be a really important need…we’ll see.
Oh yes, back to the house. I spoke with a carpenter yesterday about some furniture for the house. I need a bureau for clothes, a rack for hanging clothing and a desk for my office. He can build all three for about 6000 kwacha ($900). I will add additional furniture as funds are available.
Right now the walls are bare cinder block. The builder will “plaster” the walls over the next several weeks. Plastering here means a smooth coating of cement (or concrete I can never keep that straight) which will then be painted. I will also have the outside plastered and painted as well but that is less important at this time and can be done when funds are available.
Eventually I would like to do landscaping around the house. The plot is full of stones and sandy soil. Eventually I would like to remove much of the stone and bring in some soil from elsewhere that can grow some grass and other things. There will also be a garden for vegetables. This will be done over time.
I am now in Lusaka staying the night before we hit town tomorrow to scout around. Tomorrow will be a whirlwind. We opted to meet with the immigration officer in Siavonga before coming to Lusaka. He can make certain the papers are correctly completed as there were a couple of questions I have about the proper responses. The trip was still needed but we will have to come back in a week or so to get this process going. I am told it takes about 3 weeks or so to process the paperwork.
One of the reasons for the trip was that I needed to price needed items for the house to see how much it will cost for appliances etc. I also priced air conditioner units and a hot water heater in case I choose not to use the solar unit. For now some of the appliances can wait. I did purchase a small refrigerator/freezer. Once I am in the house I will need that for my insulin and for cold drinks. I will continue to eat with Charles and his family for the time being.