Last weekend we had to get out of town!  There’s really not much to do in Lusaka so we thought we’d start exploring the environs around it.  Someone told us about a farm-to-table lodge/restaurant called Fringilla that was only 40 km north of Lusaka so off we went.

Now, 40 km (about 25 miles) seems like an easy breezy 45 minute trip at most, right?  (And at $7-8 a gallon for gas, right in the range we wanted.)  Plus, their website also said it was just a 45 minute drive.

Well, you can’t believe everything (anything?) you read in Africa.  For starters, you take the Great North Road (that runs from Tanzania down to South Africa) out of town and navigate your way through vendors, semis, buses, and taxis.  The road randomly varies from a four-lane to a two-lane road.  The exhilaration of passing that pick-up truck with 30 people in the back (all staring at you, don’t they know that road etiquette is like elevator etiquette?) is quickly replaced with the despair of being enveloped in the black belch of diesel exhaust for the next five miles.

Every type of vehicle imaginable travels on Great North Road from semis with sea freight containers to cattle cars with braying steers to tinted-window tour buses.










The sides of the road are crowded with street vendors and hordes of people hoping to sell you newspapers, charcoal, telephone minutes, fruits/vegetables, flags and toys.









The names of local establishments are often declarative statements, usually involving God or Jesus.  (See the chickens for sale in front of “God is Great Hair Salon” below.)








By the time you crawl through the middle of town to the outskirts you’ve crawled through 3,600 seconds (that’s an hour in sloowwww motion).  Just as we were leaving the outskirts of town the road opened up to four lanes for a kilometer or so.  We whizzed up a hill and just as we crested we could see the police sting operation below.  When the police pull you over here in Zambia they stand in the middle of the road and wave an arm up and down in a stiff and strong heil Hitler type of movement.  Sure enough, the police spied our pasty white faces and pulled us over.  He also pulled over the SUV full of Chinese behind us.  Strangely enough, only obvious foreigners were being pulled over. He told us the speed limit was 65 kph and we were going 85.  Now, I was looking at the speedometer (Thom was driving) as we “whizzed” past the semis and cattle cars and tops we were going 60 kph (as opposed to the 20-30 when following these vehicles).  Thom’s experienced with dealing with these supplemental income schemes by the police and said, just give me a ticket, I’ll go to court, I was not going 85.  The officer said, no, step out and go over to that table and pay 70,000 kwatcha (about $15).  Thom said, no, I have no cash, I’d rather go to court, give me a ticket.

The officer asked for our driver’s license (fortunately we had gone to AAA before we came and got an international driver’s license for $15).  Then, he asked for Thom’s passport.  Of course, Thom didn’t have that with him.  The officer wrote down our address (actually, just the area of town we lived in) and Thom’s name and kept insisting that Thom get out and pay.  By this time the Chinese were in line with all of the other expats digging out their kwatcha.  Payment in dollars was okay too, by the way.  Thom asked for and wrote down the officer’s name.  The officer continued to write on his pad with carbon paper triplicates but he didn’t have Thom sign anything and he didn’t give us anything and after 15 minutes waved us off.  Though it’s meaningless and par for the course here, all of this confrontation and arguing and negotiating passage is very stressful for me.  Thom forgot about it by the time we hit the first police check-point.

Ahhh, police check-points, why are there police check-points?  I don’t know and still can’t figure this out, but in the next 15 miles there were two.  I suspected this was another supplemental income scheme but they just asked where we were going and why.  At the second police checkpoint the officer didn’t seem to want to let us pass without our passports (we were only about 20 miles outside of town, mind you).  When I was a professor at Michigan State University teaching the persuasion course, I had come across some research that showed if you distract an authority figure just as they’re about to deny your request with something that requires them to retrieve information, they’ll forget about what they were going to do and give you the information and move on to the next person.  I’ve found this works especially well if you ask a question related to your getting easily through a checkpoint, so just as the officer was about the say we couldn’t go through without passports I asked, “How much farther is Fringilla?  We’re lost and keep turning down roads on the right but can’t find it.?  The officer switched into helpful mode and told us how to get there, that we were only 15 minutes away and waved to us as we drove off.  (By the way, this strategy works pretty well when you have oversized bags you want to get on the airplane and you have to get past the gate agent.  Just as you’re handing the gate agent your boarding pass, with your suitcase on the opposite side, ask: Do you serve full meals on this flight or just snacks? AGENT: Oh, you can buy snacks but there are no meals unless you’re in first class.  YOU: Thank you very, good thing I brought peanuts. AGENT: Have a good flight.  Whoosh, you’re through!)

About 15 minutes later we finally arrived!  It had only taken 2 hours and 45 minutes.










By this time I was starving so we went straight to the restaurant and ordered the farm-fresh kill.  Thom had a hamburger and I had the mixed grill, which was really a sampler of their different livestock (steak, pork chop, sausage).  [As my son’s fond of pointing out, “Mom!  You’re the worst vegetarian ever!”]  Apparently they’re famous for their sausage which was very lean and tasty.

The highlight of the meal was meeting and talking with the owner and founder, George.  George came by and asked us how our meal was and then sat down and joined us for a good 40 minutes.  He had moved here from Kenya in 1971 and now members of his family run the different parts of the Fringilla operation.  Thom asked him if he thought people were better or worse off since the 1970s and he said worse.  He said when he first moved to Zambia there were woods and game and people had just enough  natural resources to build shelter and feed their families. Now, he said, due to overpopulation, most of the forests and virtually all of the game were gone.  Also, he said that for a while there AIDS was really taking out his senior staff, who were difficult to replace because of the training and experience they had.  However, he said that since ARVs (anti-retrovirals) had become available that he makes sure his staff with HIV make their weekly trips into town to get their medicine and that no one had died in a few years (of his senior staff).  He said that about half of his senior staff had HIV and that they make a point of talking openly about it (so people will pursue ARVs) but that in the beginning people just died.   It was really interesting talking to someone with a 40 year perspective of Zambia. As he excused himself he told us to be sure to wander around and check out the farm.  So, off we went.

First we came across this very pregnant goat, who told Thom to check out the piggery.












So we did.








This piggery was far cleaner than the piggeries…er…I mean boys’ rooms in our house.








Of course, when I see the animals I vow to be vegetarian again (our meals this week so far: stuffed squash, black bean soup, spaghetti).








The landscape reminded me a lot of Texas.  (My first job out of grad school was at Texas A&M, which, let me tell you, is a culture shock after growing up in Southern Cal.)









There was a nice children’s play yard…













…and a full-fledged nursery.













It really was a complete farm-to-table enterprise, complete with conference and lodge facilities too.










The trip back was uneventful, with the police simply waving us through the two checkpoints.  Apparently there’s a Fringilla butchery store in the light industrial area part of town (northwest Lusaka, across from Micmar Hardware on Lumumba).  Friends of ours say they simply call and order whatever type of meat they want and then go pick it up, fresh as can be, the next day.


About Kimm X Jayne

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22 Responses to Fringilla

  1. Lisa Murray-Johnson says:

    Okay, I’m simple irritated by the police check points and them trying to use it as a subsidy for their pay. However, when you brought up the persuasion messages, I just started to giggle, which quickly turned to a full laugh. I can see you Kimm pulling it off time and time again, and they don’t even know what hit them. Masterful moments, I’d say.

    • Kimm X Jayne says:

      ahhh, but I learned everything I know from the woman who got dissertation of the year on the topic!

      • Chiti says:

        LOL so amused by your blog…its refreshing to read another persons honest point of view. Am a young Zambian lady n i do agree with you, the police checkpoints on kabwe road are quite annoying. My colleague and i have traveled twice for a court case (am a lawyer btw) and i still cant get over them. but they do come in handy. they are usually used to intercept car thieves but of course the police jump at every chance they get to harass you…hope you enjoyed your stay though.
        take care

  2. Michael Masterson says:

    I’m often amused by the urban checkpoints in China, and occasionally infuriated by the “blocking,” as we expats call it, that goes on routinely. I find it harder to deal with at work, where I assume repeatedly and wrongly that we’re all there to facilitate teaching and learning. But then again, I had that problem in the US too.

    There seem to be gaggles of security personnel clustered around certain places, such as subway-entrance x-ray machines and gates to apartment complexes. As near as I can tell, they serve no purpose that one would categorize as security. My apartment complex is the most prestigious and high-service complex in this well-to-do area of Hangzhou, with all entrances and exits monitored 24/7 by friendly guards. And yet, the e-bike I parked inside the complex–given to me by a friend–was stolen before I even rode it. How?! At one of the Shanghai subway checkpoints, I decided to test them and went through the x-ray station walk-through lane holding a full-size umbrella (which I held obviously in my hand and could have been a gun). No one even noticed.

  3. Mikey says:

    May you live in interesting places!

    I wish my meat farm had a butcher in town. But maybe it’s not necessary since I don’t have to pay bribes and show my passport to get out to the farm…

    P.s. How much of the tolerance is Thom’s personality, and how much is his experience in Africa?

  4. Mikey says:

    P.S. I got fleeced here by the cops on a long weekend. There’s a place where the speed limit drops down to 60kph in anticipation of a curve that comes up in a kilometer. Plenty of time to click off the cruise control to slow, but a nice place to put out a couple of radar guns and catch 40% of the people passing by at a nice intersection where you can wave cars over and write a easy ticket for $125 bucks. Maybe Zambia’s not all that different after all…

  5. gary says:

    your posts have made me long for zambia – when i was living there, part of my time was spent in chisamba.- the farms name was glendale and if you went out the back door of house and road through the bush you would end up at fringilla.

  6. Ellen Rigterink says:

    Hi Kimm – it’s time that I introduce myself. I’m Amanda Rigterink’s mother (aka Jake’s mother-in-law.) Amanda forwarded your first blog to my husband and me, and I have been following them ever since. This last one (Fringilla) was the best ever!!! You are a wonderful writer and photographer. I see a book coming (I hope). Keep up the posts – they are priceless!

    Best regards,


    • Kimm X Jayne says:

      Greetings! Thanks for the nice note. We’d love to get Jake and Amanda here but they chose West Lafayette instead, garden spot that it is. Amanda would love Dr. Liza.

  7. Jeff Johnson says:

    you’re so Jedi Kimm! “These are not the droids you’re looking for”

  8. Patrick Welsh says:

    Ms. Jayne,
    Having grown up as a child in Kenya, and now helping my parents move back overseas here to Zambia, where they work in the field of public health, I find it very encouraging and helpful to hear of stories/blogs such as yours about daily life in Lusaka.

  9. Joanne Hutchinson says:

    I hope you don’t mind but I have been reading your blogs. Very informative & entertaining. I have never blogged before. My name is Joanne Hutchinson and I am traveling to Lusaka on Aug. 19, 2011 to visit the child I have been sponsoring through World Vision. WV is driving me 700K to his village near Mongu on Aug.22/11.
    I would like to take some gifts to Njamba’s family. They said they need pots, dishes, blankets & a mattress. I was thinking of bringing a 16 piece set of Corelle ( by Corning) dishes as my carry on in the plane $ 32.00 CAN. Also a blanket from Toronto as well. I hope to shop in Lusaka on Sat. Aug.20th am before I go to Chaminuka for two nights ( I hear it has quite good African Art, if you are still looking for something to do). Soooo! If it is not too much trouble would you know where I could buy some pots. I imagine that things are more expensive there than in Canada, but I have a suitcase already full of games, colouring books, crayons, books, a chisel set, soccer ball, pump, clothes, sewing kit, material, soap, toothbrushes etc. so I thought I would buy a couple of pots and maybe the blanket in Lusaka. I don’t think I can afford the mattress.
    I would really appreciate your help. Thank you Joanne
    PS I will be returning to Lusaka after visiting Njamba on Aug 25 ( not confirmed but intended to stay at Eight Reedbuck Hotel) and then hope to bus to Vic Falls on the 26th & 27th, then I am staying at Pioneer camp( great steaks apparently) on the 28th and flying out on the 29th.
    Thanks for reading and hope I am not intruding on your space.

    • Kimm X Jayne says:

      Hi Joanne and of course I don’t mind! (honored!),

      Things will cost you a LOT more over here and be of much poorer quality. If possible I’d recommend buying some larger pots (like stew pots) and smaller pots and then take them out of the box and stuff clothes into them. I’m assuming the people you are visiting are poor. If yes, I don’t think they’d have much need for a skillet. (For instance, when we were back in the states I just bought my son an 8 set pot/pan set for $40 at Walmart — it’s dirt cheap there compared to here. Some things they might appreciate your buying here are a blanket as you say and maybe a big plastic tub. There’s an area of town called Kamwala that I need to go to myself so maybe we could hook up. Have you thought of staying at Kilimanjaro Lodge? It’s a bit farther out but they provide free transport to the city and airport, are MUCH cheaper than Eight Reedbuck, and have a full varied menu. Plus, the vibe is more African as it’s set out a little in the country (it’s about a mile from where I live). The rooms will be much smaller (more like hotel rooms) as I know that 8R rooms are more like studios, so it depends on what you need. If you do book you can ask them if they’ll drive you to WV or wherever you want to go upfront.

      Also, I’d recommend getting in touch with Christie at her blog — she probably knows more about what WV families need in the bush:

      Best wishes, Kimm

  10. Joanne Hutchinson says:

    Thank you so much for your advice. I have sent a blog to Christie, so we shall see what she says.
    I am also going to contact Kilimanjaro Lodge. I will be arriving in Lusaka on Aug.19th at 2:35pm so I will ask the Lodge to pick me up at the airport. I would then like to shop on Sat. Aug. 20th. I would love to bring home one of the beautiful table cloths or some material from Lusaka as I will have an empty suitcase going home. I then have to be at Chaminuka to check in as I am staying there on the 20th & 21st. WV is picking me up there at 7:30am on the 22nd. I will then return from visiting Njamba on the 25th and stay again at Kilimanjaro Lodge and catch a bus to Vic Falls, early morning on the 26th, returning to Lusaka to stay at Pioneer Lodge on the 28th and fly out on the 29th.
    Sorry for telling you all of this , but you had mentioned hooking up. I would love to go to the Lamwala market with you on the Sat. if you are available. I wasn’t sure if you have seen Vic Falls yet, you probably have since you have been in Zambia for quite a while now. But if you and even your husband would like to take the bus with me on the 26th that would be great. I have made arrangements with Karien to stay at Mama-Out -Of Africa for 60usd per night. Karien is picking me up at the bus station and driving me there. ( it is self catered so I will pick up some food). Then on her way to work on the 27th she is dropping me at a place to ride elephants and then they will take me to see the Falls. I am staying in the chalet or trailer that Meryl Streep stayed in while filming Out of Africa. It sleeps 4. She is giving me a discounted rate. I think she lives there. it is on the Zambezi River right across from Zambezi National Park. Apparently lots of hippoes to see as the water has dropped. Not sure how it will be when I am there.
    Any way, Let me know what you think?
    Thanks again Joanne

  11. mini woodley says:

    the pregnant goat was actually a male!!!!! Great North
    road is very busy, before this it took us 35 minutes to travel to Lusaka! Thanks for your comments, which year were you here????
    Minnie Woodley.

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