In high school I dated a guy with a bunch of tough, outdoorsy guy friends and they all loved to talk about their Toyota trucks and how when it came to "braffing" (which was what I think they called driving out on the back mountain roads), Toyota, and only Toyota would do. I always agreed of course because I was a sixteen-year-old girl who didn't care.
Let me tell you though, that now, in the outskirts of Lusaka (and even in the city) I often feel like I am in a crazy Toyota commercial. The roads here are unbelievable and I just don't know what we would do without our Prado!!!
Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of taking a family out to get school shoes. We have a grandma who lives next to Ciyanjano in a two-room house where she alone is raising six and supporting one more. One of our supporters offered to help us help this family. So, I picked up the grandma and all the kids and took them to a shoe company that is relatively close to Kasupe.
When we arrived at the shoe place, apocalyptic rain began to pour down, which was so sad because all the family had gotten dressed up in their Sunday's best. Regardless though, we got all the kids fitted with shoes that will last much longer than they will fit these growing kids. We managed to get back in the truck and start off. Since my Nyanja is terrible and their English is very poor, we sang praises to the Lord instead of trying to chat.
Side note: Asking a Zambian if they like to sing is like asking if they like to breathe. The oldest to the youngest, love to sing and can even quite expertly lead a very complicated song with different parts... all the while at least one or two of them can clap along in intricate ways - it is like being in the middle of a professional performance.
So my trusty Toyota moved along in this downpour and I prayed to myself that the Lord would protect so I wouldn't kill this beautiful family with a traffic accident. We are trudging along Kasupe road which is rocks and mud for some of the way, and we come up to a crazy traffic jam. I get out of the truck to find that a huge truck is broken down and completely cutting off both lanes of traffic on our way home (and didn't I mention that it was dumping rain?) And giant piles of dirt for construction are making it impossible to go around the blockage. People were arguing and yelling and getting hot and bothered.
There was nothing to do but turn around and try and figure out another way home. Luckily, Mama Zulu knew a way we could take and we drove all the way back to the main road and made a huge circle to a crazy back road. We ended up on this VERY muddy, VERY bumpy, unbelievable road (think of Romancing the Stone when they are sliding down the muddy hill) and the entire time I really wasn't sure if we would make it. I thought for sure we would get stuck in mud or slide down some hill and end up turned over on our side and I'd be pulling muddy kids out of a window.
But, we made it. Despite my sketchy driving, that Toyota (and God's help!) got us home. And I found myself for the millionth time thanking God for our truck. The rain stopped just as I was pulling up to the house to drop off this whole crew of happy kids, so they were able to head home fairly dry and equipped with sturdy black shoes.
I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. And forgive me for thinking "If only those guys back in high school could see this!"