March 26, 2018 – Lusaka, Zambia

I arrived yesterday from Jo’burg around 3:00 and got checked in to my hotel. As I often do, I immediately went for a run to try to shake off the physical stresses of long-distance air travel. And as always, it was a pathetically ineffective workout. Just like when I tried to run in the 95 degree heat of Sydney after that flight, basically the same result here—I ran 1/2 mile, walked, ran, walked, sweated and gasped for breath. I have no idea what physiologically happens to the body when flying but it clearly affects workouts for about 48 hours or so. In fairness, in the past 8 days I have been in Tokyo, Columbus, New York City, Columbus again, Johannesburg and now Lusaka. So lots of hang time.

I did come across two cute young boys selling rabbits. I wish I had my camera but I had not brought my phone. They had 4 rabbits and were selling them for 5 Kwachas which is about 50 cents. Their English was just enough to facilitate a financial transaction and so I could not determine if they had caught the rabbits or raised them.

There’s a kombi pick-up spot just near the hotel and I ran by. People jumping in and jumping out of vans and hawkers going up and down the sidewalks trying to drum up business. Taxis honking every time they drive by anyone walking, also trying to entice customers.

Monday. Good early morning run, but alas, in the gym on the treadmill. It was so dark this morning that I could not see well enough on the path by side of the road. There are rocks, potholes and debris and it would have been a minefield.

It’s a stunningly beautiful morning. Very soft sunlight and around 72 degrees outside one the patio. At breakfast, I was one of many people sitting around quietly, reading papers, writing, working. But from the kitchen—laughter. Lots of laughter. The vast majority of working class people in Africa walk to work, or take a Kombi or sometimes a taxi. When I do get outside in the mornings to run, I will see dozens of these early morning service workers headed for the hotels and guesthouses to cook, clean, change sheets and do the lawn maintenance. In the nearly 20 years I have been coming to Africa, I don’t remember ever seeing a white waiter or waitress. Occasionally a white chef who has been trained somewhere, but all the heavy lifting in the service industry is done by blacks. Of course even in US these jobs are disproportionately filled by people of color or immigrants.

I got up to the conference area and immediately ran into a couple of old friends. Pelle Kvalsund and Gerard Akindes. I first started coming to this conference in 2005 or 6. Back when MYO was a true-start up. Now I come armed with results of 13 years of operations.

Conference was supposed to start at 8:15. But this being Africa, it is now 8:40 and perhaps 1/2 the people are here. Some things never change.

But damn it is good to be around people committed to this type of work. There is something deeply satisfying about working in the service of others.

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