Well, the month of December and therefore 2009 has almost ended. While I was in Dovu I was mostly working on getting my garden finished being planted and on finally making a pedal powered generator. Then about two weeks ago I headed to Chipata on rout to Malawi on the 24th. After a hectic and expensive travel (the “taxi” [Canter truck] cost me 3,500MK to take me probably less then 10km) I arrived at Wheelhouse Marina in Senga Bay. There is a gorgeous view of the lake and a yurt kind of thing that is on stilts over the lake where there is a bar. Unfortunately the bar plays very loud music all night and I had to camp in my tent. So I moved to Monkey Bay, the town just outside the national park in cape Maclare, early. There I stayed in a dormitory and they didn’t blast the music all night. But there were no mosquito nets over the beds and the food was way over priced. The water was very nice and the shore is covered naturally with sand. Although I enjoyed swimming and the view I left early because I was spending too much money being board and because I was getting eaten up even though I put on three different kinds of bug spray every night. I have to say, even though I can’t stand dealing with transport of any kind, the bus system in Malawi is much better then in Zambia as there are legit busses that actually leave on a schedule (although they don’t go to Chipata so I had to sit in a crowded mini bus and deal with being hassled. Anyway, now I can say I’ve been to Lake Malawi.
I’ll be in Chipata until January 5th or 6th relaxing and working on my quarterly report, then head back to Chadiza to get my Inoviropreneurship program underway.
In Chadiza charging things and checking email. Have been working on getting my dimba (garden) up and running and finally making a pedal powered generator using a very, very old Landrover generator. I just hope the tork is not too much when I connect it up to a battery. I’m going on vacation in Malawi from Dec. 24th to Jan. 4th and heading to Chipata on rout there pa Sunday. I will be in Senga bay from the 24th to the 28th –monkey bay from the 28th to Jan 2nd and then Senga bay from the 2nd to the 5th (traveling back to Chipata on the 5th).
TLUD, Dimba, Thanksgiving, Getting Stuff, Electronical Failure Mango Chutney, and….
The last two weeks before I left for Chipata about a week ago I was basically focusing on two things: dimba and BioChar stoves.
The BioChar stoves (a type that uses small branches and fibery weeds and consists of an inner chamber where the solid fuel goes. This inner chamber has many holes in the bottom for fuel and is coated with a narrow outer chamber that encircles the inner chamber and draws air up so that when it reaches what would be smoke, it is preheated and this smoke can catch fire, meaning that little toxic fumes reach the environment and people’s lungs.) have been a huge success. People are really exited about the idea. After doing a test run in my village, I got the students at Zingalume basic to make a second version. At first they were kind of uninterested in the project but when it was done, and the stove was lit, they were very impressed, as was the head teacher.
My dimba has been a lot of work, getting the beds made and beginning to plant. I so far have five beds (about a fourth or fifth of the garden) planted with some tomatoes, two beets (had a bunch more but the grasshoppers love beets, even tephrosia only slowed their demise), some soya, broccoli seedlings up the wazoo, popcorn, carrots, watermelon, cantaloupe(?), and a few other things.
I have also been trying to get strong enough potassium hydroxide (homemade lye) to make soap. I’m almost there. In the BOMA I’ve been trying for the umpteenth time to get internet in Chadiza, although as of the last meeting with one of the interested parties the meeting still had not happened.
On Monday I spent pretty much all day trying to find transport to Chipata with no success. I finally left Tuesday morning for the provincial meeting and that night we had pizza from probably the only semi Italian family in eastern province (well, there’s a radio station called Radio Maria that has broadcasting towers here… maybe it’s owned by that family… or maybe it’s Spanish).. That afternoon I had also tasted some sour ketchup and threw up all over my sheets that night, feeling miserable until Thursday. The meeting was somewhat uneventful but a little later in the evening we had a talent show and I was impressed at some of the talent, one in particular where one man played the guitar while another woman sang a lengthy witty song about Peace Corps Zambian life she had written. On Thursday at about 10:00 all the LIFE’ers trooped over to the office of the provincial forestry officer where we shared what we were up to and found out what she was wanting to focus on. Then we, or at least some of us, myself not included, got back to preparing our thanksgiving dinner (there were a little too many cooks and another would have spoiled the meal). They had been working on cooking since I got to Chipata and I was very eager to see what they had made, probably compounded by the fact that I hadn’t really eaten anything for the last two and a half days. The meal was really good and the dessert equally enjoyably. To say I was not hungry anymore would be an underestimate.
Friday was Eid and since most of the shops are owned by Muslims, everything was closed which kind of put a damper on my plans to get things I needed but I did finally find a reasonably priced old vehicle generator so that I can finally, at long last make my pedal powered generator. This is a good thing because it means I won’t need to keep lugging it to the BOMA and back every few weeks.
This weekend I began making some mango chutney that has turned out to taste really good. Why is it that if it can be canned, I can cook it, if it isn’t cannable it doesn’t turn out quite like I planed?
Going back to Thursday, when I had tried to plug in my external hard drive, nothing happened. I tried to disconnect and reconnect everything that was connectable, to no avail. I am now almost certain that Zambia is host of the electronic demon because my palm is also beginning to freeze up every once awhile (removing the battery, shaking it and bumping it and putting the battery back in usually fixes it). This means that I will be podcastless until at least midterm conference.
Monday I was walking with a heavy backpack for about 8 hours and on my feet from 5:00 until about midnight with only a few breaks, buying things from shops in the “down shops,” trying to get MTN to have reliable internet again (the MTN shop is about 4km from the PCPH) and bottling my mango chutney. I didn’t get everything done so I won’t be going back today but will go back on Wednesday.
A blog post for the tenth of November – the only tenth of November that shall ever come to pass in the year 2009 (all the rest are just fakes, don’t buy them)
Well, I’ve wanted to have my garden planted by now but it hasn’t rained enough so the ground is very hard to work. Probably my most successful venture is still my work with Zingalume Basic in doing the Inoviropreneurship program, although we have a bit of a problem of the students coming on time.
The internet program is still facing delays – no one wants to attend meetings but when I talk to them they say that they really want to do it. Hopefully I get something done on this front before I have to go.
My latest push is “top lit updraft” (TLUD) stoves. Basically they are stoves that use small fuel that can be grown quickly and burn the gas that would otherwise come out as smoke. I made one with the head women and that is what I am currently working on at the basic school.
Well, today (right now) we had our second really good storm. (There’s been a few quickies that haven’t left much) I hope there was the same amount of rain that came down in Dovu. I hope someone plows my garden when the rain lets up.
Of last regard, my solar panel doesn’t seem to be working well enough to power my battery (and there have been several days that I hardly think you even need a solar panel photons to charge my battery the rays have been so scorching). My multi meter ran out of juice and it needs a 9v that can only be bought in Chipata so I’m going to have to wait till the end of the month to assess the problem.
Alright, all for now, there’s probably more I could add but I should be packing up soon… I hope it stops raining before I need to head out.
Well we had our first rain yesterday, probably 3-4 cm at least. I was really worried that the new black plastic my villagers had put on would blow off because they hadn’t had a chance to tie the udzu (long grass) down yet.
What I’ve been working on:
Well, I’ve had quite a few fairly successful classes with some students at Zingalume basic on trying to get them to think in innovative ways. It is interesting to see what things they can do and what things are really difficult. Probably the best class that they really thrived on was when I had them make the paper airplane that could go the farthest. They made one that went quite a bit farther then the quick one I did and even gave good reasons why they tried that design.
I think this time (and what feels like the umpteenth time) I have attempted to organize the Chadiza organizations together for the purpose of internet it will actually work. I’m meeting with the high schools this afternoon and have had several meetings with members of three organizations all of which were very interested (the high schools had already set up a committee to address the issue before I had even returned from Lusaka). Now we just need to have one or two meetings with all the organizations together and get the company we are going through to come and do a technical assessment of the terrain. Then it’s just a mater of getting the equipment.
I’ve also been slowly trying to make some lye that will actually be a basic enough pH to make soap out of fat. I have also been making a fuel efficient stove that burns not only small sticks, maize cobs and other small woody things but also the smoke (like what a roaring fire that has flames shooting out of the chimney does).
Yesterday, after the rain had almost let up I spent an how beginning o prepare my dimba for planting. My garden will (come mbuzi or high water) be bwino kwambili this year!
I forgot to mention this in my last post, maybe I was too annoyed or something but I now have a baby named after me. Born a couple weeks ago, Aaron from Dovu is really cute and really likes to sleep (much more then even I, I don’t think he even woke up when I held him for some photo’s).
This week I met again with Zingalume Basic and set up the date for the first class (Monday). I also worked on my water wheel and need to get some mealy meal sacks for the actual “paddle” parts.
Today I got some more honey, a covered plastic basket to keep food in so it doesn’t get eaten by koswe (mice) but still gets aeration and some mealy meal sacks for the aforementioned use. I did not however communicate with the outside world because the MTN network was down… I hope the outside world is OK!
Today stared out a horrible day. In the morning my alarm didn’t go off so I woke up ≈80 minutes later then I had intended. As my 12v battery has not been holding a charge I needed to lug it to the BOMA along with my heavy backpack so what would have been slow going was slower going. I also decided to wear the pair of pants I had that the front pockets don’t snap down. About a third of the way there I realized a pill bottle containing my malaria medication had fallen out. Then about halfway there I realized my 8gb flash drive and two rechargeable batteries had fallen out. ARG! I hope someone picks them up.
This weekend I didn’t do that much because it was too hot (≈35-37°C). Even though it’s the rainy season it still seams humid as well although not as much as in Connecticut. Monday I baked some bread, first started out using my solar stove oven but it didn’t get quite hot enough to start the baking process. I finished it off using a new oven idea that is basically a pot big enough to cover my brazier. This worked well. I also went to Zingalume basic school and met with the teacher who is in charge of clubs to discuss trying to integrate the syllabus I worked on last month into the remainder of this term.
The Future Never Happened….
So here’s the plan: the cycle gets done tomorrow, I ride the heck out of it this weekend – I can’t bring it back the next because all of the staff are on a retreat somewhere, then on Monday, assuming that nothing has broken on the cycle, I’ll bring the think back to Chipata, then Chadiza. And this epic thing is done. It is going to be sweet to ride (I think, I hope).
Now that is the daytime news, the evening news is that I have uploaded 1452 new ZamPic’s (Pictures mu Zambia) onto my website. Check them out at: The Other Realm .
So when I got back to PCZHQ I got probably about an hour, hour and a half before the network stopped working again… and then the monitor of my laptop died…electronics don’t like me… and I’m begging to not like them…