Thursday, March 8, 2007


I can feel the rhythm. The beat is steady, pulsing. It reaches deep within my body, beating even in my mind. My thoughts have drifted and all that I think about is Africa. I stare into the deep green, seeing endless trees, rolling hills, distant mountains. It is breathtaking. All the while, the rhythm beats. It is the pulse of Zambia.

A crying child disturbs my thoughts. I am back in reality now. The rhythm I felt was the pulse of the engines. I am on a bus, from Lusaka to Chipata, a town on the border of Zambia and Malawi. Our ultimate destination is Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. I am traveling with Paul Slomp, the EWB Junior Fellow Support Staff for Southern Africa. It is a long trip. The bus ride from Lusaka to Chipata is anywhere from 6 to 12 hours long, depending on the condition of the roads, and the reliability of the bus. A break down is not uncommon. Neither are potholes. The ride is bumpy, hot, and cramped. Under normal circumstances I would dread such a trip. This one is different however. What makes it different is what is passing by the window as we travel.

I have been told by Paul, who has lived in Zambia for the past three years that this drive will take us through some of the most beautiful parts of Zambia. He speaks the truth. I gaze in awe at a sea of endless green, rolling, climbing and falling into the distance. Occasional thatch huts dot the sea, along with small pieces of farmed land. Lush crops that are nearing the harvest stand by the side of the road as we speed by. I long to stop, to get out and walk. Yet we keep driving. I must settle for the view for now. Soon enough I will be in this element. My desire to begin work intensifies.

This is not the image of Africa that you see on TV. There are no starving children sitting around, while phone numbers and pleas for help scroll across the bottom of the screen. There are no corrupt governments visible. There is no civil war being fought by child soldiers passing by my view, nor genocidaiers carrying out their deadly work. I cannot see the HIV/AIDS demon that has ravaged this continent and stolen life from so many. For me, in this moment, there is only beauty. Such beauty as I’ve never seen. In this moment, I feel compelled to thank God for allowing me to be here, and for creating such beauty. It is indeed a humbling moment. All this from a cramped, hot bus.

It is true that all the problems listed above exist, both in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Yet this is not all that Africa is. Those problems are not what define Africa. They are hindrances, barriers to development, but they are not Africa. It is too easy to dismiss Africa as a “backward” continent, doomed to constant suffering, either by its own doing or outside influence. Africa is a continent that needs help in many ways, but also a continent that has extraordinary life, beauty, intelligence, and resilience. In these moments, witnessing this beauty pass by me at 100km/h I feel exhilarated. I am thrilled to be here, thrilled to immerse myself in the culture, the pulse, the rhythm.

Upon reaching Chipata we will take a taxi to the border of Malawi, where we will clear customs and walk across. From there it is a short taxi ride and another mini-bus ride to Lilongwe. I will be spending a few weeks here in Malawi while I wait for my paper work to clear so that I can begin work in Zambia. I will spend my time studying, trying to learn as much as I can about water and sanitation so that I am prepared for when I do start work. I will be working on my Bemba as well, the language spoken where I am going.

For now, however, these logistics are a distant thought. My mind is wandering again. The pulse is returning, beating a steady beat. This is Africa’s beauty. This is what causes people to fall in love with her. I can feel it happening…..

Note: Thank you to everyone who has been posting comments. I love hearing your thoughts and I’m thrilled to be able to share my experiences with you. Enjoy the frequency of the posts while they last, I’m being spoiled as far as internet access goes. Things will change when I get to my village!! Also a big thanks to Danny, a fellow EWB volunteer. Some of the above photos are his, as I didn't get very many good shots (next time I'm getting a window seat for sure!!)


Anonymous said...

Your thoughts were beautiful! I felt that I was there with you sharing what you were seeing. Thanks!!
mom (with love of course)

ashley r said...

Who knew you were such a poet Trev?! I felt like I was on the bus with you & Paul. Safe travels across the border...

Zambia and Malawi?!?!

You're one lucky guy!

Ps. the motorcyle shot was classic :)

jen.daley said...

What an great description of your trip! The scenary is just beautiful! Everything sounds like such an amazing experience (touring the city and the culture, dinner with a Zambian family, the country drive etc!)!! I will continue to look forward to reading your posts (when you have the chance of course!)Just awesome!
Take care

Amy said...

I am speechless as I read your blogs. I agree with your mom. It felt like I was experiencing Africa as you were. I am so glad you are doing well. Be safe and have fun.


Kyle said...

Wait a minute? Is that shot of you and Slomp on the bus? Are those headrests?

Living in luxury my friend. Is that the state transit company?

Justin said...

I agree with ash. The motorcycle shot is a classic.

Thanks for the post.


marika said...

Thanks to Justin I finally found my way to your blog... and wow. I can't even wait, until may comes i'm living vicariously through you. Loving the pics and stories. Take care of yourself.

Tiffany said...

Wow...that's all I can say! Be safe with all of your traveling and work....miss you lots!


Erin said...

trevor, that post was beautiful! you did an amazing job of expressing the joy and life of africa without diminishing her hardships. i love it! maybe it'll be in a newsletter someday soon...

stay safe and keep in touch! i want to hear more about your days in malawi.

Anonymous said...

Hi Trevor. Just read through your blog from the time you left Windsor until your last entry. You are quite the writer. I really enjoyed hearing about all your adventures. I was especially intrigued about the man you met on the bus who ended up having you for refreshments. Sounds like you have a little bit of Aunt Shirley's "social butterfly qualities." lol

Anyway, sounds like the Lord is with you, and you certainly are having a fantastic learning experience.

I have not been on the computer much for the last couple of weeks as I have not been well, and I also have had the "Baby Nate" here for a few days.

Anyway, it was good to read through and catch up on your pursuits. I don't know whether it is because I'm old, but I am having difficulty reading the green font. Take care.