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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