My daughter Cathy and grandchildren El'ad (age 7), Noa (age 4) and Matan (7 months) arrived this week to spend the Christmas holiday here in Zambia. Thank heavens for Frequent Flyer miles!
We will take a couple of trips while they are here. Just after Christmas, we will visit Victoria Falls and the nearby national park to see monkeys, zebras, giraffes, a white rhino, buffalo, alligators, impala, baboons, and a variety of interesting birds. Cruising the Zambezi River, we will see elephants cross from Zimbabwe to Zambia in the late afternoon. We may take a couple of short trips to interesting sites near Kitwe, and we will spend a few days together in Johannesburg at the end of their trip. Our main activity, however, will be to experience family time at Mindolo.
The local children have been on school break since early November, with little to do. I suggested that Cathy bring along books, sports balls, art supplies, and Legos in great quantity. Except for the Legos, everything else was familiar play material, and welcome. El'ad demonstrated Lego construction, and the kids immediately began to build a variety of structures. What was interesting was the collaborative efforts the Zambian children initiated. They would decide what they were trying to create, and then several would help make it. They built an accurate model of the duplex I live in, complete with doors that opened and closed. They have also built airplanes and various vehicles, as well as a whole city.
In addition to Lego construction activities, art projects, and outdoor games, the local children love to take Matan for walks in his stroller or in their arms or on their backs. They ask if we will let him sit with them while they draw or build on the porch. They talk to him and entertain him with funny faces, songs, and other interactions. He loves it!
The local language is Bemba, and the children are accustomed to speaking Bemba among themselves. Language does not appear to present a barrier to cooperative play, as they find ways to communicate with El'ad and Noa in a mix of English, gestures, and demonstration. So far, most of the heavy rain has fallen at night, so there are many opportunities each day for outdoor universal children's games like hide and seek.
I've been enjoying reading and telling stories with Noa and El'ad, baking cookies together, and playing games like Sorry and Concentration. We have visited the market and acted out dramas. I have gotten to know Matan, who was born while I was here in Zambia.
If only all my children and grandchildren could visit, I would be the happiest grandmother in the world!