Not, in fact, an unusual story.

My new roommates arrived today. Okay, techincally they’re housemates, since I still have my own room, and the three of them are all sharing the big bedroom.

I knew they were coming — or at least, knew that roommates were supposed to be coming. (Mind you, I also know that I have a next door neighbor who was coming last week this afternoon goodness knows when. So while I neatened up a bit and made sure there was plenty of water and enough food that I could feed four people if necessary, I’ve had an “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude towards their arrival.) But the neighbor who was supposed to come this afternoon was coming this afternoon, and anyone flying into Lusaka generally doesn’t get here until afternoon, so I just went about my morning routine as usual.

I was sitting over at the school, writing a letter, when Gil called, “Miriam?”

I came outside to find Gil with three (white) women I did not recognize.

“They’re supposed to be working with LinkNet . . .”
First I’d heard of it, and, so far as I can tell, first any LinkNet people have heard of it. But there were three of them, and I was expecting three women, so I asked their names, and sure enough, they were the expected roommates.

For various reasons, they’d flown into ABFA Airport (Macha) with a pilot other than the local pilot, one who was just turning around again and flying off. The airport is a piece of beaten earth in the middle of a grassy field, with a “reception lounge” made out of a modified shipping container (I don’t think I’ve ever seen it open), and a few buildings visible in the distance.

Wind sock at ABFA

Wind sock at ABFA

Three women and a significant quantity of luggage flown into a nowhere-airstrip in a rural village in Zambia. No one expecting them.

In fact, there would not have been anyone there to see the plane arrive at all, except that Gil was getting a delivery of some paperwork from Lusaka, so he and a small bus of a Land Rover were there to act as an elderly knight in shining armor.

I would like to point out that they met up with me not because anyone was aware that they were my roommates, but because I’m the only representative of LinkNet Gil could find on short notice. (He’d called the fellow in charge of Hospitality, who was coming from the other side of Macha, hypothetically with keys. In reality, there are only two keys, one in my possession and one that the Hospitality cleaners used on the highly irregular schedule that perhaps made sense to them. Luckily I was aware of the existence of this key, because I’m not sure we would have more than one key between the four of us if I hadn’t known who to ask for the second.) But, in the it-all-works-out-in-the-end manner that seems to govern much of life in Zambia, or at least in Macha, I can not only give them a sense of what’s going on, but also let them into their house.

They seem like perfectly nice people; I think we’ll get along just fine. But they’ve had this trip planned for months, and no one bothered to inform them how crazy things have gotten in the meantime.

Welcome to Macha, my new friends. It’ll be an adventure.


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