Well this month has been, as far as actual village work is concerned, not much of a month. However it seems like it was one of the longer months I’ve been in service because I’ve probably traveled (lets see, Chadiza to Lusaka twice round trip and Lusaka to Livingston once round trip) well over 3,000-4,000 km this month, sleep in nine places and generally been continuing my whirlwind. Things should get back to normal this month at least then probably in July I will hopefully be going to vacation in Malawi and (/ maybe or) hopefully getting my cycle.
The Following is a Semi-Dramatic Textual Documentation of the Events That Have Taken Place in the Last Three Weeks:
Three and a half weeks ago, after the mid term conference was over I then began designing my cycle. Working with a local design company called Disocare we came up with a design that should work, but there are a lot of if’s that still need to be worked out. I found a source for irrigation tubing that is much cheaper then anything in Chipata. Therefore the only thing left to do is write the grant to buy it and get the villagers more involved – the later being the biggest challenge. I also did more research into how to make soap and typed up steps to milking goats as well as downloading a bunch more podcasts. Then the tension built as I waited for my family to arrive the next day.
3rd week of May…
Sunday the 17th of May marked the exciting day my family was to arrive. I left before 8:00 by an expensive taxi and got there much faster then I was expecting. I fortunately had brought a Times magazine that I read until around 10:00, then I went to the gait and waited for the plain to arrive. And waited. And waited. The flight monitor showed that the plain would be delayed 40 minuets and it took well over that time for the passengers to start coming out. But none of them were my family. While I was waiting, someone approached and said that he was a founder of the organization called Ubuntu that my family had found through a friend of a friend. Ubuntu does education and advocacy for the disabled in Zambia and my family was very interested in finding more out about the challenges here as opposed to in the States. Finally, after virtually everyone had left, we spotted them.
They apparently had been the last ones off the plane. We piled into a vehicle stuffed with luggage and headed for the guest house. Unfortunately, that vehicle did not make it there on account of a flat tire so we, minus the Ubuntu guest house, finished the transport in a taxi. Everyone was very tired so we had a quick dinner of things we bought at the local Spar and went to bed.
Waking up incredibly early the next morning, we headed to the bus terminal and boarded one of the many busses headed to Chipata. Unfortunately the bus we chose was almost empty. Finally, after waiting around 6 hours the bus finally was full enough to leave. Yeah, that day was not the best part of the trip, but at least my family got to see the anti-exquisiteness of transport in Zambia. Finally arriving at the Chipata guest house we very quickly went to bed, quite possibly even more tired then the night before.
Tuesday we finally were going to get to our destination. We left later then we had wanted to as usual, after having repacked, banked, and food shopped we got a taxi and headed out on a very bumpy road. Getting in just before dusk, we were very glad to not need to travel for two days. Sitting and looking out at the wildlife that it was amazing the amount of given that virtually everywhere else in Zambia the only mammals are farm animals and mice we finally got to relax. While we were sitting a woman who works at the camp greeted us and when we engaged in discussion she seemed to tell us about how she grew up in Zimbabwe on a farm but as a teenager had to leave because of the redistribution of land by force that was going on. She fled to New Zealand where she went to college and gave up her initial plans of taking over the farm from her father. Not comfortable with the more urban life she was leading she came here and is working as a teacher in the morning and training to become a park ranger at night. Well that was an interesting enough story but then she began talking about her future plans to kayak the entire length of the Congo River, a feat not done before. To just kayak down the rapids there is a daunting task in of its self, but to do so in the Congo Rainforest with all the natural dangers of such a climate plus the fact that many stretches are in the middle of a guerilla war is almost ludicrous. She can probably talk her way out of a fight with a lion though as she wove her fascinating tale effortlessly.
We still needed to wake up very early the next day because our wildlife tour began at 6:00 and breakfast was at 5:30. We ate quickly and headed out on our mini exploration. Although it was kind of the standard Sub-Saharan wildlife you see in nature shows on TV, it was good to see them in real life and to learn a little bit more about them. We took a lot of pictures and I shot some footage, both of which I hope to post on my website the next time I’m in Lusaka. After the morning escapade we ate lunch and relaxed some more until about 1600. Then we headed out on our night trip to see more of the pray that ate the animals we had seen in the morning. We saw some lions, a jaguar, and caught a glimpse of a wild dog, which is supposed to be very rare as well as many more animals. Of the two trips, I would definitely say the daytime one was better because we could see all the wildlife instead of needing to stare out at the ever moving spotlight. We had a good three course dinner and stared out at the night sky for a little while, then went to bed fairly satisfied we had had a good day.
Thursday marked a lull in activities and we had a lazy day reading magazines and chatting. I was somewhat frustrated as my feet had slipped out from under me when drying off from a shower the day before my family arrived. My tailbone and left buttock really hurt when I walked more then a few meters so I wasn’t able to go exploring the limited “safe” part of the part, so the day was mainly a day of rest because tomorrow would be another long taxi ride to my village in Chadiza.
When Friday rolled around, we hurriedly gathered our luggage, ate a quick breakfast and then the taxi came at 8:30. After the three hour bumpy ride to Chipata, we got some more food, ate some of it for lunch and then took another taxi to Dovu. We were welcomed by everyone and we chatted fairly easily, surprisingly enough, the headwomen and her son and law knowing much more English then I thought.
Saturday morning the first thing we did was go to see my chief, although whether he was expecting us or not. This was actually the first time I had been to the Zingalume palace, although I had met the chief before when he had stopped by my place. We gave him k50,000 and some homemade goat soap as gifts and heard afterwards that he really liked the soap and wanted to learn how it was made. The meeting was fairly quick and more of just a formality, and afterwards we got a tour of Zingalume village of whom the head women is the sister of the Dovu headwomen. After getting oranges picked from the trees in front of her house, we headed back to our village. Then my Dovu and U.S. family set about making peanut butter. Everyone was in a good mood and all chipped in shelling a huge bowl of ground nuts. After the shelling was done, we ate a lunch of Zumba, a local leaf that is dried and cooked with ground ground nuts, some baking soda and a few tomatoes. Because the first time I had eaten it I had said I really liked it, they now often bring me some when they make it, however I’m actually not that thrilled about it, and it is definitely my dad’s favorite dish. During the course of our return back to Dove from our morning trip I started to have a bad headache. I thought it was because I was thirsty and I drank a lot of water but it wouldn’t go away. I really wanted to climb a hill that I had climbed almost a year ago and had an amazing view so we headed out despite my pain. Most of the hill would require climbing equipment to even attempt the ascent but there is one side that is climbable although still difficult because it is covered with loose pebbles and grainy sand. I somehow made it up, my head pounding and my stomach not doing the best. After some hopefully good photos and a brief rest we headed back down. By the time we finally got back, (or actually well before) all I wanted to do was lie down, which sucked because the rest of my “families” were enjoying watching the young ones dance and sing. My headache finally subsisted and I think lying down was just what I needed. After a dinner that lacked much flavor we went to bed.