Lusaka, Zambia: Billboards, Mobile Phones, and a Serbo-Croatian Lunch

My first stop is Lusaka, Zambia. It’s a tame city, ever-sunny, sleepy in the evenings, amicable, the kind of place I’d be interested to shack up—did I phrase that right?—for a couple of years, the kind of place one could enjoy a nice, lazy meal. You could get some serious reading done here.

Greetings from the road, folks. I spent the first four nights of this survey in Lusaka, Zambia. It’s a calm city, easy to get around and an overall solid start to my African excursion.

In my last post, I had mentioned a new writing gig with Flightster. The quote above is from my most recent article over there, “From Zambia, With Love.”

Billboards

Zambia, like many other African countries, has oodles of billboards.

Zambezi Airlines has been on the EU blacklist since December 2009.

Mobile Phones

Walking off the plane, down onto the tarmac and through the long tunnel before immigration, I’m bombarded with advertisements. Zain and MTN, the two largest telecommunications operators in Zambia, hug the walls with their large, bright ads.

Throughout my stay in Lusaka, driving around and walking through its centralized shopping complexes, I see Zain and MTN, head-to-head, vying for consumers’ attention.

Serbo-Croatian Lunch

My final afternoon finds me relaxed, lounging at a road-side café, book in hand, waiting on an ice cold Coke. Upon sitting down, I soon realized that I had snagged the last open table, as two gentlemen come up to me and ask if they can join.

We start chatting, and I learn that one of them is from Croatia, the other Serbia, and that the two of them had both traveled independently to Zambia nearly two decades ago. “Only Africa can bring our two countries together like this,” one of them told me.

We discussed dual-identities, various engineering and non-profit initiatives in Zambia and what kinds of changes they had both seen in the country over the last several years. It was a fantastic conversation, healthy, engaging, just the kind of experience I needed as a proper send-off. As I mentioned in my Australia write-up, these are the kind of random, chance encounters I live for on the road.

Cheers to the many more to come.

9 thoughts on “Lusaka, Zambia: Billboards, Mobile Phones, and a Serbo-Croatian Lunch”

  1. I really like how you included this random encounter with the Croatian and Serbian guys. That’s what it’s all about. Lusaka sounds like a really cool place. That billboard is hilarious.

    With budding telecommunications and technology industries there, how was the internet? Widely available or not?

  2. Just got back home form a 2 week stay in Lusaka. I an four others traveled to Zambia to visit friends and to see how we could contribute anything to the people. Your assessment of the city of more than 1 million is min as well. Getting around is easy and the people are friendly. I saw and heard diversity galore. I visited the Sunday Market at the Arcades plaza and enjoyed the bartering mindset. I like Lusaka as well as the other outlying places we visited. The people were gracious no matter what they were going through. I look forward to my next visit.

  3. Like @Nate I really enjoyed your comments on the “serbo-croatian” lunch. I’d actually be worried if they were trying to scam me, but I suppose I keep my guard up too high when I travel 🙂

    Any advice for us less experienced on how to avoid a swindeling?

    1. @Alex: Interestingly enough, they ended up paying for my lunch! It’s important to stay cognizant of your surroundings, of course, but at the same time, traveling is about opening yourself up, taking chances and opening doors you might not normally open. When you take chances, sometimes they might not work out (you get taken advantage of), but in my experiences, that’s quite rare. Unless you’re negotiating with a Romanian taxi driver–they’ll always get ya 🙂

  4. I would have to agree with some of you guys, that billboard is by far one of the best I’ve seen in the business, and quite unique at that. Sadly, I probably wouldn’t be able to do anything like that in my city due to code. Take a peek at my site, tell me what you think of it. Memphis Signs

  5. beautiful and great billboards that appreciate nature, too eager to pay a visit once and have the first hand information and view the place.

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