Zambia Stories - Entry 1

By | October 12, 2003 | Zambia

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.

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