Arg, dimbanization, hidden AG fair, funeral, cleaning…

Arg! I think the problem with my battery or solar panel (through which my 12v outlet runs) is that, although it should be able to power my laptop for about 4 hours based on that it should store around 26 amps, somewhere in this system the voltage is not quite enough to run my laptop after about 10 minutes. I can still use it without losing that much juice on the laptop battery; it is just that I have this incredibly annoying flashing on the screen as the thing switches from AC to battery and back and forth about twice every second.

I spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday doing some dimbanizing, then Saturday I went to the BOMA early (got there around 8:30am I think) but spent about 2 hours trying to find an agricultural fair. I finally found it but it was a little bit of a letdown because the only displays there were the various ministries and NGO’s in Chadiza (10 or so) and there were more stands selling things at the market place then there were there. The organizations with the displays though were very gung-ho about showing off what they had done because I guess they were being judged and there would be prices awarded. I then was going to spend the early afternoon trying to work on some emails, this blog and maybe a story I’ve been trying to write but the District Education Resource Center, the only semi public location with electricity, was being used for a meeting. The education department in Zambia has some of the hardest working government officials (hence working on Saturday); I just wish that they could get funding to get better materials (like the internet program I’m working on which I think the only way it will be possible it through a grant, but also text books).

Sunday I decided was cleaning day, and my kunyumba needed it. I got a good start on the day and was in the middle of clearing everything out so I could sweep when my Atate came and asked me to go to a funeral. Well I hurriedly changed and put on sun block and then we walked about a kilometer to the house of the woman who had recently departed this life. There was probably 100-200 people there and it was a traditional ceremony that was much like what we learned during PST. There was much singing and pastoral speeches in the local dialect. Then we all walked up a hill, the family carrying flags made of cloth with a pattern of what may have been some significance although if there was, I’m not sure what it was. There was more singing and speeches and then the coffin was lowered into the grave and men took turns filling it in. I wish it had been on a different day though because it meant that it wasn’t until dusk when I got done cleaning. I’m glad I did because it looks much better. My banja gave me some selves for my books which was really nice because I wasn’t sure how I was going to get one brought from the BOMA to my village. Today I have a meeting with some district education officials about getting a project for internet access put together. I also want to get some been and maybe Chinese cabbage (the only vegetable other then broccoli to have this really potent antioxidant that may act as a kind off sun block and definitely has anti-cancer properties) seeds. I’m not thrilled with vegetable, but I think I might try to make sprouts from the seeds, which I think may have a concentrated amount of the healthy chemical.

Back in Chadiza for a while

Well Friday I waited… and waited… and waited for my ride to show up. Finally, as the sun was beginning to go down, I texted him and he said would be there shortly I don’t think it was until 1800 hours that we actually left in the pickup truck that I had been told was a van. When we got to the Chadiza BOMA the priest dropped me off at my Forestry counterpart’s house. I waited for a bit, watching one of the Euro 2008 football games on satellite (kind of weird, I think it’s the first time I’ve watched anything but staticy antenna TV since I’ve been in Zambia) as the only people there were the government official’s progeny. When he finally came I made a decision to call someone with a vehicle which I somewhat regret. I think he was going to have me stay the night and when I made the decision all I wanted to do was get home but now I wish I had taken his offer and spent more time with him. Oh well, what’s done is done.
I spent Saturday and Sunday working in my dimba. I found some plum tomato seeds which I planted two rows of and also planted some more cucumbers. Cuc’s are very sensitive to the kind of dirt they are grown in; only a few of the ones I planted in my fenced in area around my house came up because the dirt is very clayey but I have had more success in my dimba because there is one area that is more loamy I think as a result of it being one big ant colony. The ants don’t seem to be affecting the plants though… I’ll have to wait till they start producing to see how true this holds up. I also planted some more cucumbers and hot peppers in my yard, this time adding compost. Hopefully I have more success. Just before I left on Friday I dug up some strawberry plants from the front of the PCPH and I also planted them in my yard.
While I’ve been “dimbanizing” I’ve also been listening to probably, no almost definitely, the best book I’ve ever listened to. The way you can gauge how good a book is is by how much you talk about it to others. If it’s awful you tell everyone not to read/listen to it – the last book I listened to, “The Lion’s Game,” was such a book. If it’s ok, but just ok, you kind of forget about it and don’t really mention it to anyone – incidentally I can’t think of a book that falls into this category. If it’s good, you tell everyone to read/listen to it – the book I read before “The Lion’s Game,” “The Eight,” a book about chess, would fall into this category if it were not for the end which is so bad it makes the rest of the story, which is really good, not worth it. But the book I’m reading now falls into a category few ever achieve. Its descriptions are so vivid, its plot is so well established and the person telling the tale does such a good job at giving just the right accent to the characters that you want to keep it a secret from all but you very closest friends. You want to be able to use it as a secret weapon. If this book falls down the same path that “The Eight” did – and this would be next to impossible – I may have to ET and go into rehab… well maybe not something that drastic but you get the picture.
Dzulu (yesterday) I bought some “Zumba” (probably doesn’t have a “correct” spelling so I just wrote it somewhat phonetically) leaves (from red hemp I think although I don’t remember for sure). Last Tuesday my Zambian banja (family) made this relish that was really, really good out of it. So the next time I went to the market I decided to see whether I could find some, then go to my amae and ask her to show me how to make the relish. After that I gave my internet proposal to the district resource coordinator and added the last segment of my exquisite audio book and some more music from the gigabytes I copied from the PCPH. Then I left in a hurry to try to post all this to my blog that day before I needed to go back, however I forgot to pick up my cell phone. Well there was no one at the Agriculture Support Programee (I think it’s a Dutch program and that’s why there’s the “e’s” at the end) where there is internet access and those two reasons are why I am posting today. I also met with the district education, I think, project director about my internet idea and we set up a meeting time for next Monday. Well that’s all for now.

Thursday was a good day all in all.

Thursday was a good day all in all. The morning wasn’t that productive, a couple of volunteers and I were going to meet with a LIFE trainer at 9:00 but realized he was on leave, not in his office. But I texted him and he said he would come to the PC house in the afternoon. Then I spent a long time trying to find a shop I had been in twice before but it took me about an hour and a half to two hours to track the place down. Bought another pot and a good thermos. Then I went looking for broad band internet and that’s when my day got better. Yesterday when I was at immigrations renewing my visa I asked the lady stamping my passport whether she new of anywhere that had high speed internet. She gave me an office number and that was the first place I went. They did have broad band, but only for corporate clients so they directed me to another office down a narrow alleyway and up some stairs. They said that they had Wi-Fi that covered most of Chipata which somewhat blew me away, only drawback was that you needed to pay 20 pin for 100mbs, but it’s still the cheapest way I’ve found so far. The power promptly went out so I was unable to try it out. Next thing to do is to find grant money to get this service done in the schools in Chadiza so that will be something I’m doing a little research on. Then pa 14:30 I the PST LIFE tech trainer came in a mini-bus his family owns and took us to his house and gave us coffee and sweetbread and we had a nice conversation. When I got back I found I was unable to receive Wi-Fi service at the PCPH but I went back to the office where I had paid for the service and was able to download an update to my antivirus in 10 minutes that had been still downloading via dialup after more the 4 or 5 hours.

Madzulu (afternoon) I will hopefully get a ride back with a priest in the Chadiza BOMA. I’m glad I’m finding places where I can connect and blog somewhat more frequently. Till the next time I’m connected: Tizanana!

Well, I’m at the PC house to renew my visa and will stay until Friday

Well, I’m at the PC house to renew my visa and will stay until Friday afternoon when I’m probably getting a ride back with a priest my Zambian government counterpart knows. Last Friday I planted some pepper and broccoli seeds I got from a store in Chipata, the only thing is the seeds are from 2005, hopefully some will grow. A somewhat lazy weekend then Monday I went back to Chadiza and spent the morning trying to do some research on existing information technology programs in Sub Saharan Africa. I also was trying to update my antivirus software but since my connection is only something like 48kbits a second and in reality like 1kbit it was slow going and I didn’t achieve much. Tuesday my PC LIFE program director (or APCD) and Provincial Leader were coming in the afternoon. I pasted the time waiting for them to show up by replanting some cucumber seeds along the fence in my garden. When they came, my banja (family) gave us a late lunch of nshima and a relish I will have to try to make on my own as it was very good. After a while we went to my dimba and I showed them what I had planted and I watered a little bit, then we had to head back because it was about to get dark. It never did get dark as we had a full moon over our heads and spend a while chatting which felt good as it had been a long while since I had had people I could do this with and actually understand what everyone was saying. Then, although we were still full from the last meal, we got dinner of nshima and lepu. The atate from my host family drove up (one of the only people on my road other then the chief to have access to a vehicle) and talked to the APCD for a while. After a little bit we went to see some dancing and costume (feather headdresses that were very intricate) wear. We were all very tired but I still needed to pack for the next several days in Chipata so I didn’t get to sleep until close to 23:30.
Today I got up and we left around 9:00 which would have been sooner but my family gave us a big bowl of roasted groundnuts. We went to meet with my closest PCV’s and while the APCD and the LIFE PCV chatted, his wife took the Provincial leader and I by bike to their dimba where they had envious amounts of broccoli seedlings which I may try to get some of if mine do not come up. After we had biked back and loaded everything into the Landover we drove to meet briefly with our district forestry and tourism counterpart, then drove to Chipata. I went to the bank then we renewed our visas and went to Shopright to get some food, but they were all out of a lot of things like cereal. I hope they get more of the things I need and want before I leave. I had crackers dipped in tuna and ketchup and rice with moringa (the really healthy tree) leaves which took forever to pluck each little one from its stem.

Well, I finally found an internet connection in Chadiza!

Well, I finally found an internet connection in Chadiza which I can actually use my laptop to connect, although I just realized that I can probably do the same in the PCPH. This means that I will finally be able to start doing research into my internet in rural schools idea. It also means I will be able to blog more often which is goodJ. Monday my LIFE coordinator/leader/adviser (the PC term is APCD) and PC provincial leader will be coming to see how I’m doing and to stay overnight, I hope they bring at least one tent because my house is really crowded with junk and I only have one very small tent. It rained yesterday which never happens in June… global warming my host Atate says. Well I have to make this short because I need to get on the rode so I can get back before it gets dark. Zikomo!

Well, I’ll be leaving Sunday to go back to my village

Well, I’ll be leaving Sunday to go back to my village and for once I’m kind of glad I’m going back, although getting there will probably be a huge hassle. I will spend next week working on my internet in schools idea and trying to create some drawings for making my new bicycle which just came in and my old one into a quadracycle. Also some more gardening and community fitting in will hopefully happen.

Do you see what I see?

Do you see what I see?
Do you see what I see?
Some words,
Some words,
Some real chinyanja words,
Which when I’ve learned,
Will help me seek,
The end to poverty,
For knowledge is the key to life,
To winning in this game,
And if I bring this power now,
Combine it with the friendship here,
The world will look a new,
Will see that what is needed now,
Is knowledge and much love,
We do not need to fight or hate,
Just work in harmony,
The nations that are growing strong,
Have schools that teach the facts,
Where education tends to lack then hardship does abound,
But here is just the place to start,
This global change for good,
And if I have the strength to lead,
It will happen very soon.-Aaron E-J

Well, I’m beginning to do more then just get my garden started

Well, I’m beginning to do more then just get my garden started; I’ve started to get the ball up and running on an idea I’ve had for a while of bringing internet to schools. I typed up a one page proposal that basically is just my thoughts on what I’m interested in doing and why I think it’s a good idea and it has gotten good feedback so far, next step is to bring it to the provincial level. Grasshoppers have eaten most of my beets which is discouraging but I finally got some tephrosia (it’s a tree which is a natural pesticide) leaves and soaked them in water over night, then pored this water over the plants. Not sure whether it worked because the damage was pretty much already done. I am definitely getting a paraffin (kerosene) stove when I’m in Chipata because I’m really tired of having to wait an hour to get (sometimes) boiling water, but I’m really glad I don’t need to start it from scratch every time because I can usually get coals from my host family. Oh the address where you can send things to is: Box 520103 Chadiza, Zambia