I know that the next six weeks of posts will be filled with intricate details of Zambian culture, extensive epidemiological studies of sub-Saharan HIV strains, and Serious Journalism — so I figure I’m allowed a moment of boyish excitement before I hit the hard stuff:

I have been in Kate Beckinsale’s bedroom.

To explain: My flight plan first took me from Washington, D.C., to London, where I had a 12-hour layover. I’d planned to bum around the city aimlessly, with my only planned event being grabbing lunch with Tod, my newspaper’s London bureau chief. But a happy change of circumstances meant I ended up wandering around town all day long with Tod, his awesome nine-year-old daughter Fiona, and two of Tod’s journalist friends. Along with swapping a bushel of old foreign correspondent stories, we even tracked down David Blaine, Mr. Starving Suspended Magician. A good time was had by all (or at least me).

But the single most exciting moment came early on, when Tod offhandedly mentioned that the house (which he bought a couple months ago) was until recently occupied by Ms. Beckinsale, a starlet who had been a minor obsession of mine since The Last Days of Disco. (Oxford-educated, cute as hell — how can you go wrong?) I could have phrased my day’s greatest excitement in a variety of ways (“I’ve used Kate Beckinsale’s bathroom,” “I’ve eaten a croissant in Kate Beckinsale’s kitchen,” etc.), but the bedroom mention seemed most inappropriate.

After my excitement subsided, I hopped on another plane and, 10 hours later, landed in Lusaka at about 6:15 a.m. this morning. First impressions of Zambia later.

12 October 2003


13 October | 17:39  |  EricaLucci

So glad you're there safely!

28 October | 18:18  |  Jessie Graham

You probably know this already, but you are very funny. I especially liked the duct tape exchange: "Sounds like an excellent product."
You're my hero.
Also: I haven't had time to read through all of your dispatches, but have you come across a white guy who's a microlight pilot with a very squeaky, strange voice, kind of reminds you of Gilbert Godfrey? My boyfriend and I ran into him on the border by the Falls and we still remember his weirdness fondly.
Jessie Graham
former Pew Fellow

30 October | 14:47  |  Joe

I got to this site via the search engine "google" because I was looking forward to buying some bathroom wall tiles online in Zambia.

What a surprise I got !!!

The site is listed as an online hardware store, but no sign of listed products for sale



16 February | 6:13  |  mwila chileshe(a zambian)

You snobby, pom / yankee, son of a bitch. where do you white F*&%ers get off judging third world counties. From you "notes" you had only been in Zambia 5 mins and already you could tell how the economy failed!, man they could sure use a guy like you at the world bank, you are so insightful.
Any way retard I have to go, but next time you travel get to know a place before opening your mouth

17 February | 0:38  |  josh

Hey Mwila -- Thanks so much for your wise comments. I'll be sure to never speak about anything other than my home town again. I had no idea the economy of Zambia was doing so amazingly well, what with that $300 per-capita income and all.

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    Remember Me?

Welcome to zambiastories.com, the online journal I kept during the six weeks I spent in Zambia in 2003 as part of a Pew Fellowship in International Journalism. The entries below are in reverse chronological order — most recent on top, oldest on bottom.

To learn more about my trip and this site, check the About page. If you have any comments or questions, email me.


11 Jul 2004: Where the only growth industry is death; AIDS destroys scarce resources as well as family members

12 Sep 2004: A lesson in dying; Once a refuge from AIDS, Zambia’s schools are now its latest victims



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10 Oct 2003: Leave for London
11 Oct 2003: Leave for Zambia
12 Oct 2003: Arrive in Lusaka
22 Nov 2003: Leave for London
22 Nov 2003: Back to Washington


Any opinions expressed here are solely mine, and not those of my employer.

© 2003 Joshua Benton