I remember the very first time I discovered email. I was in grad school at the University of California, Irvine, and urgently wanted to reach a new friend at the University of Arizona. Someone told me about telnet, where I could simply type in someone’s name and a message, and get a response within five minutes. The year was about 1990.
Fast forward to 2010 where facebook and the blogosphere are part of my daily life, and that includes the friends I’ve met on each. We’re 21st century pen pals. I feel like with 21st century pen pals you get to know each other faster because multiple “letters” can be exchanged each day and we can see photos and videos of each other. We can even take care of each other though we may be on other sides of the world (right Ang?).
Eloise from Cape Town had contacted me after reading my blog asking about housing here in Lusaka, as she and her husband were moving there this spring (North America’s fall). We corresponded many times and learned a bit about each other. When she realized I was in Cape Town (from the blog) she contacted me and before I knew it we were meeting face-to-face at the Lord Charles! It was wonderful meeting someone in person with whom I had only been a pen pal. I enjoyed her company and am looking forward to her moving here in October!
Later that week I picked up Joanne and Jami from the Kilimanjaro Lodge and took them to Kamwala, the primarily Indian-owned section of town where you can get good deals on everything from hardware to fabrics to appliances to dishes, and so forth. Joanne is a Canadian I met on my blog. She was coming to visit the child she had been sponsoring through World Vision. A friend’s daughter (Jami) decided to tag along at the last minute. But first, we had a nice cup of coffee at Kilimanjaro Cafe.
(Darn! My hair doesn’t look blond anymore, especially compared to true blonds.)
Let me tell you, there was some serious rubber-necking in Kamwala at the sight of Jami’s bare legs in a short summer dress!
After Joanne picked up some pots and various other things for her sponsored child’s family, we drove out to Sugarbush for lunch. Along the way we picked up two more pen pals whom I had yet to meet! Heather and Gina each had contacted me on my blog regarding their impending move to Zambia. They each had arrived a couple of weeks earlier and Heather had just gotten her vehicle in the last 24 hours, so we drove to her home and then she and Gina followed us to Sugarbush in her new car.
Heather had been particularly interested in our experiences regarding importing pets to Zambia. Like us, she had heard that one should not go through South Africa because of their strict quarantine laws, and that British Air only allowed dogs as cargo. Problem was, her little Boston Terrier, Ruby, was a snubbed nose dog and they do not do well in cargo. So, her plan was to have Ruby certified as an emotional support dog (for legitimate reasons) and fly Ethiopian Airlines. I was really keen to hear how it all went. (Emotional support dogs are treated like any other service dog and they can sit at your feet or on your lap in the airplane, and walk freely on their leashes in the airport, whereas dogs flying as carry-ons have to stay in their carriers or the flight attendants go nuts. Like seriously we’re-going-to-turn-the-plane-around nuts.)
Here’s everyone enjoying lunch at Sugarbush. From the left going clockwise: Jami, myself, Margaret (one of Thom’s colleagues here for a one-month assignment), Heather, Gina and Joanne.