Grocery shopping in Lusaka can be interesting, but in many ways, is no different than shopping at home. In the past decade, several modern and well-stocked grocery stores have opened here and you can get almost anything you might buy at home.
Manda Hill is a large, modern enclosed mall, with a ShopRite grocery at one end and a large “Game” department store at the other. Game looks very much like a Walmart, so I was not surprised to discover that it is, in fact, owned by Walmart. (Soon the entire world will be owned by Walmart, I fear!)
There is also a 5- screen movie theater, several restaurants, various clothing and electronics stores and assorted other shops, beauty salons, watch repair, book shops and internet services.
I don’t go to Manda Hill often…it is usually very crowded and the parking lot can be packed full of cars trying to get in or out and people shouting and/or beeping their car horns. There is another, fairly new shopping plaza a little closer to me called Arcades. This is a bit more laid-back, with some trendy nightspots, a huge Spar Supermarket (with frequent announcements over the loudspeaker, thanking the shoppers for their “lovely and happy shopping” and telling us about the daily specials and etc…) and various shops and places to sit outdoors and have a cup of coffee or a snack. It also has a modern movie theater and it is the site for the Sunday craft market I mentioned in a previous post. They have a large bookstore (fun place to browse) and a huge hardware store that has almost anything you might need for DIY.
A bit closer to home is Woodlands, which has a Pick-and- Pay and also O’Hagan’s – an Irish bar. They serve the usual bottled beer (Mosi, Castle and Heiniken) and Guinness…also bottled. As far as I know, there is no actual draught beer to be found anywhere in Zambia!
Crossroads is a conveniently-located shopping plaza if all you want to do is pick something up on the way home from work. It has a smallish Spar, a chemist (drug-store) a cafe and a bookstore, as well as internet/phone companies, an appliance store and a fairly large, modern mattress store on the second level! Pharmacies in Zambia are very well-stocked and will generally fill any kind of prescription, even if you haven’t seen a doctor. Last week, I had a hideous sore throat and fever…I went in, explained my condition, and walked out with 3 days worth of antibiotics, cough medicine with codeine, anti-bacterial gargle and some aspirin for good measure.
My favorite place to grocery shop by far is Melissa’s – right down the road from where I live. Melissa’s is a local supermarket, much smaller than the larger chains. But they usually have everything I need and they are very friendly and helpful. It is a much more relaxing place to shop. They bake their own bread daily, and also have a decent liquor selection and a butcher. In the same plaza, there are several restaurants, including a nice Lebanese place, a pizza parlour and a bakery that make excellent lattes and capucinos. There is an additional (more comprehensive!) liquor store and a “ZamBeef” butcher, as well as a number of ATMs. At the intersection, you can always count on the locals being there to sell you tomatoes, avocados, strawberries and even watermelons….but you have to make the transaction quickly, before the light changes!
I sometimes walk down to Melissa’s on a weekend morning and have a latte and a croissant and pick up a few things.
“What will you eat” was a question I got asked by the girlfriend of my friend’s son, who didn’t really understand that there would be actual stores in Zambia…with actual food. (Of course, I did sample those caterpillars that time…and you can buy those in the grocery stores, too!)