Last Day With ZEHRP


This blog entry about the events of Friday, April 16, 2004 was originally posted on April 18, 2004.

DAY 181:  “We’re going to a bakery if you want to come,” Cristina said to me in the ZEHRP living/dining room that morning as I was typing a Blog entry on my iBook at the dining table.  I took her up on her offer and hopped in the SUV with her, Jens and Deann, who was also tagging along for the ride since, although it was Saturday, Shelle was at work at the ZEHRP clinic.

The trip to the bakery wasn’t a weekly Saturday affair for the married couple; Cristina, whose last day it was working at ZEHRP, wanted to buy cakes and pastries to thank her staff in the data department.  Although she wasn’t leaving Lusaka — “There’s a something about this place that just sticks with you and you can’t leave” — she was leaving the project she came for.  From what I’m told, as noble a project like ZEHRP was, it had all the dysfunctional bureaucratic politics that are present in any organization, for profit or non, and for her, enough was enough.  Luckily for her she landed a job at the U.S. Embassy, and would move out of the ZEHRP house to another one closer to the clinic where her husband Jens worked.

AFTER DRIVING THROUGH THE POORER “COMPOUNDS” of Lusaka and onto two bakeries in two Westernized strip malls (the first had no cakes), we had enough cake for her staff to have (and eat it too) and brought it back to the ZEHRP flats.  Shelle was there waiting for us; she had managed to get off of work early (the ZEHRP work week is Tuesday to Saturday) to hang out with Deann a couple of more hours before she left.  For Deann, it was her last day with ZEHRP too.

Until it was time to bring her to the airport, we just vegged out in Shelle’s room while Deann did the final touches to her packing — she was kind enough to not only lug some of my things back to The States, but some extraneous things of Shelle as well.  I spent the morning playing MacGyver, attempting to fix Shelle’s digital camera with a paperclip, scissors, tweezers and (of course) some duct tape.

“I just took a picture of you,” I announced to Shelle when I got it working after about an hour.  She was thrilled.  The marvels of duct tape never seem to cease.

GEORGE PICKED US UP at the ZEHRP house at 12:30, and drove the four of us — and the cute little puppy Lelo — passed the number of women carrying goods on their heads, to the Lusaka International Airport, about twenty minutes away.  The airport wasn’t nearly as extravagant as the ones in New York or Paris — not a duty free shop in sight — so we just walked Deann to the exit fee desk and then to the security gate where only passengers were allowed beyond that point.  It was there Deann said her goodbyes, which were only for the meantime; she knew that she’d at least see Shelle back in the States after her last day with ZEHRP in June.

“Nice meeting you,” Deann said to me.

“I’ll see you on the internet.”

Two days later, she was already posting comments on The Blog.

ARCADES, THE LATEST WESTERNIZED STRIP MALL in the greater Lusaka area catering (non-exclusively) to the expatriate community, was on the way home from the airport, and it was there we stopped for lunch at Michaelangelo’s.  The new pizzeria tried to simulate a rustic, old-fashioned Tuscan experience with exposed brick and cracks in the wall — simply by painting images of them on a flat wall — but made up for their lack of building materials with really good pizzas.  Over Castle beers, Coca-Colas and coffee drinks mixed with shots of Amarula, we discussed a debate that Shelle had been pondering in her head:  if George, a third-generation Zimbabwean, managed to move to the U.S. and acquire U.S. citizenship, would he be able to apply and receive African-American scholarships even though he is of Caucasian descent?  (Feel free to send your comments and thoughts on this matter below.)

Whether or not George would move to the U.S. was still in the air, but one thing for sure was, if you wanted to find George in Lusaka, Zambia, chances were you’d find him at Hooligan’s, the humble, working-class bar where everyone knew his name.  (It was inevitable; a big mural in the parking lot had “GEORGE” in big letters on it.)  When George was living temporarily in a flat for two months without refrigeration, it was Hooligan’s that he came to everyday for food, drink and company.  After lunch, it was Hooligan’s (picture above) where we went to kill some time and say hello to the usual barflies, including Lawrence, who joined us for a doubles game of pool.  Lawrence, a boilermaker, was my partner, and a far better one at that, and I apologized for, for lack of a better phrase, totally sucking ass.  His skill made up for my inability and we beat Shelle and George in a best-out-of-five series.


“You mean better than the ones last night [at Cattleman’s Grill]?”


She was referring to the delectable steaks at Marlin’s, a popular and somewhat fancy restaurant of the expatriate community — so popular we had to make reservations — where, according to the ZEHRP crew, I needn’t look past the first page of the menu where all the steaks were.  Dinner at Marlin’s was originally meant as a Jens’ and Cristina’s payback to George for hooking up their stove for them in their new house, but it was also probably a good idea for Cristina to wind down with a juicy slab of beef after an emotionally exhausting last day with ZEHRP.  Personally, my day was free of emotional exhaustion, but I fully enjoyed the pair of medium-rare porterhouse steaks with a side of creamy mashed potatoes anyway (all at the USD equivalent price of about eight bucks). 

“You know I’ve been eating like a king since I’ve met you,” Shelle said to me, eating her medium-rare rump steak smothered with creamy mushroom sauce. 

“Me too,” I said.  “Until I bumped into you, it was all ramen noodles and cans of tuna.”

The tuna and ramen noodles would have to wait, for it wasn’t my last day with ZEHRP just yet.  I knew that at some point, as the saying goes, all good things come to an end, but in the meantime, I knew that — with the bakeries, pizzerias, bars and steakhouses I’d visited that day — living the life of an ex-pat was much tastier than living the life of a backpacker.

Next entry: The Things People Do On A Sunday

Previous entry: Donations to a Country Going to Mars

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Comments for “Last Day With ZEHRP”

  • Way to go, Erik!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/18  at  01:15 PM

  • Could I BE any further behind on the blog?  Every time I actually get the chance to have a look at the blog you’ve written up another 10 days - HELP !!!

    Hope you are well and having a great time.  Stay safe mate.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/18  at  07:40 PM

  • LARA!  Hey there…  glad you’re back on line…  Get this, I’m eating Oreos and Pringles RIGHT NOW!  (Well, that’s not true, but they are here in the ZEHRP kitchen if I want them.)

    Glad you’re well…hope to see you if I can this summer somewhere…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/18  at  09:20 PM

  • I think George would be able to apply for the internship….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/18  at  10:24 PM

  • ummm…i mean scholarship….need coffee…or a beer…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/18  at  10:25 PM

  • LARA - hey what’s up?  hope all is well!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/18  at  10:26 PM

  • JUST VENTING right now… but apparently if you hang your clothes out to dry after a handwash here (like I did today), you risk getting putsi fly eggs in your clothes, which transmit into your skin—and then two weeks later you have larvae coming out of bumps in your skin that look like zits.

    The only way to combat this is to iron your clothes… and the ZEHRP iron just melted one of the only two pairs of trousers I have… and my swim trunks! 


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/18  at  10:34 PM

  • Sorry, I’m still behind two days right now.  I’m headed off to Malawi in five hours.  I’m not sure what the internet situation is there, so I could be in the NIZ if you don’t hear from me…

    I say again:  DAMN YOU, PUTSI FLY!!! (hands in the air)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/18  at  11:31 PM

  • DAMMOT! Looks like you’ll have to pay a visit to Denn’s tailor!

    That Larvae zit thing sounds sick! Just nasty!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/18  at  11:38 PM

  • Grrrreat story man.

      As for J-Lo’s sister, like Donald Trump does, I fired her (you’ll know what that means when you come back to The World!). I stuck with Channel 11, it will air this week on the news!!

      Word Life!


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/19  at  02:15 AM

  • putsi flys!!!!!!!!! bastards!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/19  at  05:21 AM

  • Yo Erik! Glad to be back. Won’t make Killi but certainly looking forward to catching you at the Prancing Pony in Middle Earth.  So glad there were no pics of Putsi flies. Even if there were, you know I’d be too tempted to take a peek. smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/19  at  06:11 AM

  • awww man, wasup. 

    no steak pics…daamn. 

    eating steaks and shooting pool.  that’s all i look fwd too.  what a life!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/19  at  04:01 PM

  • WHEAT - “awww man, wasup.”


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/19  at  04:16 PM

  • Hey Erik,

    Since other blog worshippers are naming dropping J-Lo and the likes, they should know your former boss made it to Page 6, NY Post:

    April 19, 2004—WB-11 “News at Ten” entertainment reporter Toni Senecal got married Friday in a ceremony celebrating love and little people. The fetching broadcaster wedded documentarian Tracy Shea at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mulberry Street, where the proceedings were officiated by a 3-foot-tall dwarf . . .

    Only in America.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/19  at  08:55 PM

  • ERIK and ALL - from what i’ve been hearing (actually reading on IM) is that there are a couple of female SBR’s out there telepathically fondling(maybe even man-handling) you every day….

    ...this only makes for a very interesting return party….11 months away!....

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/19  at  09:04 PM

  • Hello Erik,

    I hope you remember me from Cape Town, South Africa. I stayed at the same hostel “The Backpack” with you. I hope you doing well on your travels. I will enjoyed the photos.

    I will stay in touch.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/20  at  06:07 AM

  • SEAN ANDERSON:  Hey there!  Of course I remember!  Hope you’re well… are you back in San Diego yet?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/20  at  12:02 PM

  • EMILE4REAL:  That’s great man… although I’m hearing that the “dwarf” might have been mistaken for one Matt O’Grady.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/20  at  12:06 PM

  • finally, I am all caught up on my blog readings!

    putsi flies sound damn nasty, but its not as bad as that fish that rams up the urethra in south american waters. ugh.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/21  at  09:49 PM

  • LARA: Glad to see you’re still staying up on Erik & his travels. Where are you these days?

    Absolutly, he’s African, he could be an American, I’d like to think no one is assholish enough to have specified color in the scholarship fine print.

    Has anyone else noticed that no matter how run-down or poor an area seems to be, there’s always a Mercedes around? Was the one in the “THE POORER “COMPOUNDS” pic a taxi?

    eeew… putsi fly larvae. I think I saw that on Discovery channel once—some girl survived a plane crash in the jungle but got those things in her scratches. It looked real nasty.  So ERIK does this mean you’ll be going commando next time you see a swimming pool?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/22  at  09:01 PM

  • i think it would be unfair for scholarships meant for under-privileged African-American students living in the United States to be awarded to those students who have the privilege of being international students.  there are scholarships available specifically for international students - by country even, and…it would just be bad karma taking scholarship money for the hell of it. 

    for the sake of checks and balances, yanno?

    Posted by hanalei  on  04/26  at  08:49 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
The Things People Do On A Sunday

Previous entry:
Donations to a Country Going to Mars


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