By Tom Ginley
in Lusaka, Zambia
For most Americans, the road trip is a family pastime. Everyone packs into a car, often uncomfortably, and travels for hours to a vacation destination. Personally, I loathe long car rides. In the United States, any ride over three hours very quickly gets boring and old to me. The highways in the U.S. are not very scenic for the most part; with many of my childhood vacations spent looking out the window at urban areas. I guess part of my dislike for long road trips is that I cannot fall asleep very easily in vehicles, so my only option is to take in the scenes of houses, more traffic, and the occasional farm as we speed towards are destination.
When I initially reviewed our itinerary for our program, one of the first things I noticed was the long hours of travelling by bus to different areas of Zambia. I obviously realized that this would be my most dreaded part of the trip; cramming into a bus with seventeen other students and our luggage for 7 hours was not ideal. The only sense of relief I had was the destination would be different and exciting to experience. However, once we passed the outer city limits of Lusaka, I was pleasantly surprised.
Low clouds hover over the busy Soweto Market
The scenery in Zambia is like nothing I have ever experienced. The land is sprawling for as far as one can see, with rolling hills covered in tall grass, trees, village huts and various animals. However, the
one aspect that really intrigues me is the sky. Clouds here in Zambia are unlike anything I have ever seen in the U.S. Not only are they vastly more present, but also much greater in size. The cloud ceiling covers the sky as far as I can see, and I have found myself spending much of our
road trips simply marveling at the sky. The clouds seem endless, with all different shapes and sizes. With the rain season in full swing, the thunderstorm clouds and lightning create an eerie yet intriguing visual. At night, the giant clouds become backlit with lightning that warns of the impending showers.
All this, with the addition to the foreign absence of planes marking the skies like in the U.S., Zambian road trips are much more enjoyable for me than normal ones in America. While I may still be a bit crammed, uncomfortable, and unable to sleep, I am at least able to take in beautiful scenery that rivals any I have ever experienced back in the U.S. Because of this, I actually began to look forward to our road trips instead of hating them as I do back home.