Well, I’m back in the States for the foreseeable future (note, the future is more then a little blurry so trying to foresee it is figurative and the figure is all scribbles in the sand at low tide).Getting pulled from my site went remarkably smoothly and I think, all in all, I did achieve something during my two years.This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t have liked to achieve a great deal more, but in the past month or so before leaving many things finally clicked into place.I posted my Description of Service report in the last post if you want to see the ‘glorious’ achievements I have done.And, of course, since all my potential employers enjoy reading my blog they will gobble it up and contact me immediately.
When I got to Lusaka I was inundated with paperwork until minutes before I rang the COS wheel-bell and was somewhat frenzied until I got to the gate for boarding the plain to Addis Ababa.Well, things did not start off well for my journey home because the plane did not lift off until about three hours after it was supposed to due to fueling problems.This meant that we touched down about 15 minutes after the plane I was supposed to be transferred to left.The next flight to Washington, my next stop, didn’t leave for a day so this meant I needed to spend a night in Ethiopia.Fortunately there was another PCV (or actually I guess now we’re RPCV’s) on the same flight and we shared a room together in the hotel.The hotel was pretty descent and had good food if bad coffee (isn’t this supposed to be the home of the best coffee in the world?).Well, after a day spent mainly watching TV, we finally got in the air again and after roughly 16 hours sitting in fight and about an hour or two in Rome for refueling we made it to Dulles Airport at about 8:30AM (back in America so I need to start practicing the AM PM instead of the 0830 hours).
Customs went remarkably quickly and I was directed to the United Express ticket station to inquire as to when my flight had been rebooked to.It hadn’t. And to make matters worse, the flights to Bradley were booked until Monday.I got a standby ticket and the third wait began.The first flight at 12:20 was already overbooked and although I waited with bated breath, or at least as much of one as I could muster given how tired I was, no seats presented themselves.So then it was to another terminal for the next chance five hours later.It wasn’t looking good as there was a huge group of high schoolers’ coming back from some trip but when everyone got on the plane it turned out there were two seat remaining.I was just about to head to the terminal when those two people with the tickets to those two seats rushed up.And so it was back to waiting.Fortunately at this point the ticket takers realized that I was extremely tired and they were really helpful, so much so that they did some computer magic and got me a definite seat for the 10:30 PM flight.I slept on the seat for about an hour and woke up worried I had missed the flight.I hadn’t and was the first person on the plane.After about another hour I touched down for the last time, only about 34 hours late.And thus ended the two year, two month chapter in my life.
Now I need to figure out what I want the next one to be about.
2010-01-29~2010-02-12 On the last Sunday of the month I headed back to Chipata. I had the taxi driver take me to the Lusaka post office because the Zambian mail company has a fairly ingenious idea of combining a mail service with a bus service. I had read in an old travel guide that the post bus only ran on Tuesdays and Fridays or something like that, but I thought it would be worth the short diversion because they definitely leave on a schedule. To my joy they were “going today so I paid the taxi and got all my stuff out. It was only when I heard a number of people talking about Ndola that I happened to ask where they were going, which was not Chipata. Annoyed to no end, lugged all my stuff back to the street and flagged down another taxi. The second bus I got on at the Intercity Bus Terminal was the fuller of the two that were headed to Chipata. I was going to wait at the curb until the first bus headed out but the teeming crowd of ticket salesmen (the number of ticket sales men to customers at intercity is probably four or five to one) convinced me to get on theirs, agreeing that if another bus left before them, I could get on it. Another bus did, and fortunately I was able to rush out, flag it down, argue with the ticket salesmen, load my luggage and get on the bus before it left the station. And thus, I left at a near record of just after 9:30 and got back before dark. The last Friday in January I had called a guy who ran a computer training institute in Chipata and who is knowledgeable in hardware about having him see if he had a replacement monitor for my laptop. I had set up a meeting with him for Monday morning and went to his school at the third floor of an old British built quasi-government building he rented space from. He seemed to be able to help me but he was either really busy or pretending to be really busy so the whole thing took all day and he hadn’t put my laptop back together before close to 1800 so I needed to spend another night in Chipata. Tuesday he had checked just about everything there was to check and the diagnosis was that the actual monitor part and the tube that makes the screen light up (that I thought would be the logical thing that had gone as the screen goes black) where not the problem but it was the part that process the information that will be displayed on the screen that was, and that was the part that he did not have. So, although now I know what the exact problem is, I’m not sure it was worth the countless hours I spend waiting for him to spend another five minutes on it before he was interrupted. Late on Tuesday though I finally made it back to site where I will be, maybe until I leave for good unless I got to the house in mid March. Since I’ve been back I’ve been working on getting the Inoviropreneurship program going full swing (first project is doing a version of the TLUD stove that uses only clay) and getting my pedal powered generator working. Alright, need to go get some more chain for the generator.
Thursday 2010-01-28 Back from Chamanuka, a bwano kwambili resort, for our COS (close of service) conference. Most of the actual conference was fairly straightforward info about what we had to do before we left and options for when we returned to the states. The food was really good and I don’t really need to eat for the remainder of my service. This evening many of the volunteers, several Zambian PC staff and US staff who work at the embassy or for various NGO’s went to the deputy ambassador’s house (where I had stayed a little over a year ago in the PC home stay program) to discuss development, what it meant and how it was best implemented. The discussion was very productive and really showed how much the people who work in Zambia (be it PCV’s, Gov. employees or NGO workers) collectively have a grasp on how to best carry out development. The basic points that clarified, enhanced and added to my idea of how to bring development and/or the challenges in bringing development during the meeting were: 1. That skill and knowledge aid should be the primary focus and that financial aid should only be implemented when it is the only limiting factor impeding the organization from growing. 2. That when possible, any form of aid should first be sought out locally 3. That a large factor contributing to lack of development is the lack of motivation to improve and bring new change and new ideas. 4. That one likely reason for this is the lack of an education system that has resources and sparks innovation in the children of Zambia 5. That, turning the camera in the other direction, if a Zambian came to America and said that they were here to help your town develop, would you except their idea with open arms and readily stop what you were doing and turn to embrace whatever development strategies they employed? The Zambians, in large part do, but the more radical a suggestion is, the more resistance a volunteer faces.
Now all we have to do is actually take these ideas and turn them into action (as is one of my signature* quotes: Vision without action is a daydream, Action without vision is a nightmare, One needs both to succeed.)
2009-09-17 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 .
2009-09-15 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…
(2009-09-09, roughly 21:27 hours) – Well, I think I’ll go to bed
2009-09-10 Frustrating day, still have a lot to do on the cycle, working on bike cart design and some online stuff.
2009-09-11 Well, I won’t be going back this weekend, hopefully Tuesday or Wednesday next week. Right as I am typing this I have a pot full of oats in front of me – this is isn’t that important, I just thought you might want to know. Hopefully this weekend I will have time to put up my pictures. All for then…
2009-09-07 I want to get out of Lusaka! At the same time I want to get my water wheel (and of course my cycle) done before I go back. But I need to deal with red (plus green, blue black and yellow) tape. Unfortunately none of it is duct.
2009-09-06 Finished solar stove – only problem is I don’t have a black pot. Still makes the water very hot though.
2009-09-05 Worked on making a solar stove most of the afternoon, right now trying to get my camera to connect to a PCHQ computer because the wireless router needs to be reset. I think the problem with the connection is with the USB port on the camera… which sucks because that means that capturing is basically impossible…
2009-07-30 Today was a fair..ly successful day. After stopping at the design shop, I went to the Lusaka AG fair. The fairgrounds remind me a lot of the Big-E, only imagine what the Big-E would be like if it replaced the rides and game stands with more AG related things. In about 4-5 hours I found out more about renewable energy and remote internet then I have the entire time I have been researching the subjects. I met with this technology school based in the Copperbelt that had designed a bicycle that could run on solar power alone. The really useful part was when I asked where they had gotten the engine from and they said that it was from a windshield wiper. When I go back to Chipata (tomorrow actually, although I will be back here in a week or so) I will look into getting one of those little things and using it to do the reverse of what the school exhibiting was doing, make a generator out of it. Then I tracked down a digital system engineering company that it was rumored they were making low RPM generators. Although, from the previous stop I had found a almost certainly cheaper alterative to a new specialty device, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to talk to someone there. The company did not stock such a machine and was about to exit the building when I thought about asking him about ham radio. As it turns out, he is a licensed operator in S.A. Unfortunately he didn’t know how to get a license here, but when I stopped at ZNBC, they really liked the idea of an amateur radio program in local schools and got my contact information about getting a program under way in Chadiza. Finally, I was on my way out of the grounds when I stopped at the Zambia Meteorology Department. I overhead someone saying the word “internet” and my ears picked up. Apparently there is a device that is being distributed throughout Zambia and elsewhere in Sub Saharan Africa that is in essence a Short Wave Wi-Fi that is used for its own intranet. When I got back I Google’ed WorldSpace, the name on the top of the units they were using to connect. Initially I didn’t find anything until I found their not-for-profit arm. Essentially they are doing what I have been attempting to do for some time, bring low cost internet to remote villages. Check them out at: http://www.firstvoiceint.org . Alright, still have a lot to do before I get a brief rest and head out on the long trek back to Chipata.
Yesterday I spent the morning and first part of the after 1200 hours doing more research in long range wireless radio, then I switched to design and spent the rest of the night doing a CAD drawing of a water wheel pump and printing steps for making a stirling engine. Today I will hopefully be going to DisaCare to work on my cycle and to show them the work I was doing the previous day.
2009-07-02~2009-07-25 Week one(ish) of July (week of Forth of July, Unity Day, Hero’s Day) I was in Chipata spending some time relaxing after almost a month in the village as well as finding out how to make soap. Week two (with a bit added on in the beginning and the end to bring the total up to day 18 of the seventh month of the ninth year of this millennium) I was back in the village doing two soap workshops. Probably my most rewarding workshop was working with the teacher in charge of the JETS club in finally getting the Solar Oven project under way. I also had several good conversations with the head teach, who I get along well with, resulting in asking whether he wanted me to work with the other teachers in doing some programming in the area of Inoviropreneurship (innovation, the environment and entrepreneurship). He liked the idea and when I asked him how much he wanted me to do he said that I should write a daily class for ten of the thirteen weeks in a semester. So I’ve been pacing myself in writing the fifty lessen plans. On the eighteenth day I took a dreaded taxi to the city known as Chipata and spent a while working on beginning the structure of the syllabus. I also made pancakes for the first time since I’ve been here (and a long time before that) and also made some soya burgers that were really good, I just wished my stomach had been feeling better. Then on the 21st, I headed down to Lusaka to finally get a cycle of sort. Of coarse the shop had not been notified when I would be coming and they were not all geared up to go. Hopefully they will be on Monday. I’ve been spending a lot of time getting hooked on Amateur/Ham radio. I think it would be awesome if I could get myself and a few local Chadizians’ licensed. Then we could communicate throughout the world. The summer CHIP/RAP (CHIP=community health improvement project, a combination of the old HAP/CAHP) intake of ’09 came late Thursday night and were at the PCHQ on Friday. They seem like a pretty good group. Alright, back to haming, pondering whether I should spend some time writing lessen plans and working on a CAD drawing of a portable waterwheel for irrigation I’m designing.