Sunday, 28 April 2013

A Wallet as Big as Texas

Wall painting by Zig Zag
Coming “home” from the football game with the Lubasi orphanage kids, I planned to give my clothes away for laundry. So I put everything from my pant pockets onto the bed and covered it with my sleeping bag so I could quickly change clothes and give the laundry bag to the lady who would take care of it. I went to the lady, she weighed the bag and said it was KR 25 per kilogram. Do the math for 3.5 kgs. Instead of giving her the laundry, she sold me a washing paste for KR 5 (about USD 1). I took it and went back to the dorm to get the KR 5. Only, my wallet wasn't on the bed. I wildly searched on the bed, in the sleeping bag, under the pillow, around the bed, on the shelf next to the bed, in the pants in the laundry bag, in the bag itself, in the backpacks, in short, everywhere. I couldn't find it. When I left it on the bed, I didn't notice anyone in the dorm. Now there were two girls chatting on a bed. After I rummaged through my stuff a couple of times, ran erratically in and out and around the dorm and said “shit” a couple of times, they asked me if everything was alright. I told them I lost my wallet, and that it probably had been stolen. What was weird though, was that my passport, my phone and other things were still under the sleeping bag on the bed.

I went to the reception and told them what I thought had happened. They advised me to wait a while, because if it really got stolen, the thief would probably take the money out (about KR 4) and toss the rest somewhere. I was worried about my bank and credit cards without which I would be stranded pretty soon. I still have some cash stashed away for just such emergencies, but it sucks anyway to lose one's cards (including driver's license and ID card). They advised me to look again if I hadn't dropped it somewhere and told me they would ask security to investigate. I went to the security people at the gate myself and told them what happened. I then had a whole squad following me to the dorm, all putting up a serious crime investigation attitude. Arriving there I quickly told them the two girls arrived only after I lost my wallet to avoid any confusion. They looked around, and I told them I already searched everything two or three times.

Jollyboys relaxing lounge area
I couldn't do anything but wait a while before calling my credit card security number to block the card. I didn't want to block it for nothing. I chatted a while with the two girls, Eve and Andrea, who are both from Texas. Eve was visiting her sister who works for USAid in Lusaka and had already been in Zambia for 5 or 6 weeks. She had visited the lower Zambezi, South Luangwa and had already been to Vic Falls. Andrea just recently joined her. She's got a job in Illinois (far out of Texas) from which she only could take about a weeks holidays. She would get the most out of it (she met me). Her husband had already consumed his holidays by going skiing earlier in the year so he couldn't join her. She had arrived a couple of days earlier in Lusaka.

After a while, still not showered (that was initially another plan I had) the lady from reception called me and told me I should come to reception in a few minutes because some people had found my wallet. My hopes grew because I had remembered the taxi ride during which we were squeezed and I remembered not being able to put my wallet back into my pant pocket. So I waited a little bit longer until they got there. It was the taxi driver and one of his buddies. No sign of my wallet so far, but they told me they have it. They finally produced it out of their pockets and gave it back to me. After checking that the main things (credit card, banking card, ID, driver's license, 4 Kwachas, etc) were still inside, I gave the taxi driver a USD 20 finding fee. I thought it probably was more than what he would end up getting in a normal day of taxi driving.

Nyami Nyami
Relieved and happy, I went back to the dorms where Eve and Andrea were still chatting on their bed. I joined them and we chatted a while. Eve wanted to see the now so famous wallet I had lost and recovered and when showed to her, said it was huge (probably as big as Texas). I told them I still needed a shower because I was still dirty from the football game. The proof was the sand that was now on their bed. I took a shower, and later convinced them to join me for a walk to Barclay's ATM.
Later we came back to Jollyboys, me with money from another ATM which only accepts Visa and not Maestro debit cards, and them with themselves. We sat down in the lounge area which has a lot of cushions and pillows. At first I was a bit far away, so I went closer, but closer meant going down a step and really close, as the space was a bit small down on the bottom. Eve said it wasn't too close, and that they are cuddling people. So a new friendship started with Ladies from Texas.

A bit later Mitra walked by and I introduced him to the Ladies, because they would all be going to a day trip to Chobe NP the following day. I had met Mitra a couple of days earlier when he tried to get in touch with a guy he had planned to meet in Cafe Zambezi. Mitra only had a Kenyan phone number and the credit took some time to load, so he borrowed my phone to call Bryan, his meeting partner.