Sundays in Zambia - The One with the Documents

This post originally appeared in January 2010.

Today we're taking a break from pictures of the gorgeous country and people. I know, I know – why? I promise – there will be some more next week. But this week I want to talk about some of the documents I required to live in Zambia – besides the obvious passport and work permit.

First of all, I had to have an Aliens Registration Card. At the time I had not ever heard of a non-citizen of a country being referred to as an alien so I thought that was hilarious. I was an alien. Heh.

 Before I came to Zambia I was issued an International Driving Permit.

However, not too long after arriving I had to apply for a Zambian driver's license. Boy that was a process! Forms and going to multiple offices, and then at the end, an oral exam along with the other missionaries who were applying for a license. I was asked what emotions might cause a person to drive carelessly. I said rage or anger or sadness. Nope, none of those was the right answer. The right answer was joy! The examiner said that a very happy person doesn't pay attention to the road. At the time I thought that was a very funny answer, but later I learned better. My only speeding ticket was a few weeks before my wedding 21 years ago. I was barreling down the road singing to Amy Grant at the top of my lungs. I was going 82 mph. In a 55 zone (it had just changed from 65, but still!). Thankfully I didn't lose my license. Anyway, I managed to pass the driving exam & received my Zambian license!

A couple of other ladies and I decided to get memberships to the Intercontinental Hotel pool. We decided to say that we were a family so that it would be cheaper. Yes, I see the irony that two missionaries and a teacher at the American Embassy School (whose name was also Dana!) were cheating. I even feel somewhat ashamed about it now. In any case, we got our membership. I always laugh when I see the name – Mr. & Mrs. Damawallace. My name was Dana Wallace. Apparently I was taking the fall in this caper.

The last document is my membership card to the Bulldog Den at the local marine base (? I have no idea what it was called – these were the marines assigned to the embassy). We would go to watch movies, eat popcorn and flirt with marines. I saw The Princess Bride there for the first time – one of my favorite movies of all time (next to Joe vs. the Volcano). And I got a date to the Marine Ball with one of the marines from Michigan. We also played softball with the marines (I use the word "play" loosely – I am no athlete). One of the guys was from eastern NC and I loved hearing that voice from home. His accent was so thick that the other marines couldn't understand him over the radio. Made me homesick, a bit.

Come back next week when I talk about my attempt to teach cross-stitch at the Women's Missionary Union conference. Not a pretty picture!


  1. If I've learned anything in life, it's that all sorts of relationships make a family. I don't think you were cheating really, but just stretching the definition.

    What a wonderful adventure this missionary work must have been for you! You sowed the seeds of some great rocking chair memories. Not that you need a rocking chair yet!

  2. Love your story - it reminded me a bit of the time when I first came here. Getting an American driver's license, a social security card, my alien card (still have it, still am an alien).

    Isn't it the weirdest thing when you are far, far away from home and you run into someone from "back home" who has the same accent as you do?

  3. We had a similar Marine club in Rabat when I worked in Morocco. I didn't flirt with Marines, but that wasn't because I didn't want to! :)

    So funny about joy being a dangerous condition on the road. Never thought of it that way. I can only imagine the amount of bureaucracy involved in getting a driver's license in Africa!


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