“Good thing Cleopher mentioned that the Department of Fisheries office was just across the street, otherwise I wouldn’t have known where to get off,” Chelsi said starting off away from the minibus.
“Oh man that minibus, it was so crammed in there, within 10 seconds I couldn’t feel my feet.” Chelsi’s friend Oliver shook out his long legs and followed just behind her.
“Yeah, I hate minibuses. And this particular ride is a long one. But we made it.” Sign with an arrow was painted along the wall, advertising the direction of the Lusaka Botanical Gardens. “I’m glad too, I couldn’t just keep sitting around Kabulonga any longer.”
The two friends passed through the bright orange, wrought iron gates, guarding the entrance to the park.
“If I remember correctly it’s like 20 or 25 kwacha to get it in.” Across the empty grass and gravel parking lot they entered a small brick reception room. “I’m glad it’s a Thursday in February too, so it’s not crowded.”
“Good Morning,” the fashionably dress receptionist greeted them.
“Well, hello there!” Oliver returned as exuberant as ever. “We’re here to see the garden.”
The receptionist smiled and laughed.
“We have come to the right place?” Chelsi added, reaching for her wallet in her bag.
“Yes, you have. It is 30 kwacha per person to enter.”
Chelsi sighed and dug through her wallet. “I have a 50, do you have a 10 Oliver?”
“Yeah, sure, of course.” He riffled through his pockets until he found a 10 kwacha to place on the counter. When the receptionist finished filling out the receipt for two, she tore it from the book and handed it to Chelsi.
“When you exit the office, the animals are off to the left and the gardens, straight ahead.”
“Thanks!” Jovially Oliver led the way into the garden.
“Last time I was here,” Chelsi started, “it was dry season. So everything was brown, and dry and dead. And that was,” she had to pause to recount, “nearly two years ago now. Which is why I wanted to come back now, you know, during rainy season. So I could see the plants with flowers on them.”
“Yeah, I was hoping to take some cutting so I could plant them around my house too.” Oliver took in their surroundings. An old stone atrium, over grown with a flowering purple vine, lay just before them on a path leading to a bridge over a small creek.
“Well that purple vine looks nice,” Chelsi pointed out.
“Do you think it’ll grow from a cutting?”
“I don’t know, but this is Zambia. Even dead sticks start to grow when you stick them in the ground.”
“Are you going to plant them at the new house? The one at Paul’s place?” Oliver was extending along with Chelsi, only he was moving only down the road from his current site to help a missionary farmer start an aquaculture facility.
“You know, I don’t know. I guess I can plant them at the new house.”
“You’ll be able to enjoy them there longer. 14 more months!” Chelsi raised her hand and Oliver gave her a high-5.
“Alright! 14 more months.”
Reaching the atrium, Chelsi took a seat on bench, while Oliver search for tender off shoots to collect for his garden. Across the stream was a broad leafed plant with red flowers. Like birds of paradise, Chelsi thought but drooping. Farther off Chelsi could see the path leading to flowering bushes. No, those aren’t flowers. She could see against the green backgrounds, the white, yellow, orange, brown, purple flowers fluttering, because they’re butterflies.
“Where to next?” Oliver’ voice broke her focus.
Chelsi pointed across the stream, “maybe some of that bush over there. It seems to be attracting lots of butterflies. That might be nice.”
“Okay, let’s go!” Oliver waited for Chelsi to collect her things, then the pair crossed the bridge together, to the bushes filled with butterflies.