Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mail fairy

It's just like at summer camp-- the counselors/ PCVs walk around the cafeteria chanting "mail call." The kids who get something from home are the envy of everyone.

So far, we've been pretty envied. I tell everybody that it helps to be old-- we've had a lot of time to make friends. GOOD friends! Thanks to everybody who's sent news of the True/False film festival and other Columbia happenings. Keep it coming!

We will still be in training for another month, and the Lusaka address will always work (maybe slowly), but for anything you mail after today, use our new address:

Lisa &/or Trevor, PCV
Peace Corps
PO Box 510203
Chipata, Zambia

If you do send one of those fancy $11 international priority envelopes, besides afixing a customs form that declares a value of $5 or less, cram it full of useful items: rubber bands, pocket packs of tissue, hard candy (skittles! sweet tarts!!), spices, photos & cartoons & newspaper clippings, pens, pocket notebooks, tape or glue sticks, conference freebies (great to give to kids, esp balls and other toys), ziploc bags, binder clips, fabric scraps, hotel freebies or samples. Plus, of course, old (no matter how old!! this is Zambia!) magazines and paperback books, as we are sort of starved for reading material.

We promise to write back. And when you join the Peace Corps, we will write to you!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I had heard that Zambian women don't cross their legs, so I tried to ask my host mother, Ba Jane (Ba is a term of respect used for both men and women), about it by crossing my legs and pointing at my bare knees. "Is this ok?" I asked.

She said no, a lady should cover up with a long skirt, but it's ok because you're still learning.

(Zambian women wrap a two-meter piece of cloth called a chitenge around their waists, no matter what they're wearing, sort of like an apron or housedress over your good clothes.)

I still don't know if I'm allowed to cross my legs, but now I grab a chitenge when I head over to Ba Jane's for dinner.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


It's not that I thought the people in Zambia would be dirty, but I wasn't expecting the incredible level of cleanliness that I've experienced here. Despite having to dip their washing water from a hole in the ground, Zambians are obsessed with washing.

There's a ritual where everybody washes each other's hands both before and after every meal, and our host offered us warm water to bath in the morning and evening before we let her know that our skin would fall off if we washed ourselves that much. There is a broom in every hut on the compound, including the bathroom, and in the morning the girls of the household sweep every inch of the compound, which has to be more than an acre, so that when we step out of our hut in the morning, our footprints from the night before have been swept away and replaced with the broom's wave-like pattern, overlaid with chicken tracks.

I've especially come to enjoy the afternoon al fresco bucket bath in the thatched bathing shelter, looking at the puffy clouds.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Two weeks ago several education volunteers and I went on a site visit to stay with a current PC volunteer. We stayed with Carrie, so if you want to know what our life with her was like, read her blog!! She doesn't write about us, but we got to wallow in her wonderful rural Zambia homestead.

Her boyfriend, Doug, also writes eloquently and entertainingly about the Zambia experience.

Reading Doug's blog reminds me that one thing we would really appreciate is homesteading type books and magazines, since we will basically be living a lifestyle of American pioneer days-- we hope to have chickens and maybe goats, will haul water from a well or bore hole, light with kerosene, etc. Since we have limited knowledge and skills in those areas, any help might put us ahead on the learning curve.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie. Who knew that Zambia would give me my Laura Ingalls Wilder opportunity??

Monday, March 17, 2008


We're going to get fat here! The food is good, though my only complaint is that it's really starchy.

Here's our usual menu, courtesy of the host family:

Breakfast: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with instant coffee + powdered milk.

Lunch= varies, but lately has been "eggy bread" (french toast, basically-- 4 pieces) and Fanta several times. Not my favorite, but some days they feed us during training up at the Peace Corps substation, so that's something to look forward to.

Dinner is the best meal. It's rice plus nshima (cornmeal paste that you roll into a ball with your hand-- like very thick grits or polenta), and relish, which just means things to put on the rice and in the nsima. It's always at least three things: a tomato onion sauce, a green vegetable (usually chopped pumpkin leaves or rape) and a protein (scrambled eggs, chicken for Trevor, soya pieces, beans). Zambians eat nshima at least once a day, and some three times a day. They even make drinks from is: maheau, a thin fruit-flavored version; and shake shake, the alcoholic one. (It smells like vomit-- I didn't taste it.)

We supplement with cookies from the tuck shops. Clothes still fit-- so far!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Hi!I'mon our Lusaka visit & getting ready to start week 4 of training. I'm atan in ternet cafewith high-speed access &abroken space bar.

News: we'd love some more mail!! (See a ddress at right) Specifically, we'd love hard ca ndy & skittles/sweettarts; books &magazines (used or old=fine!!); specifically-Americansnacks. We have lots ofcookies butnot much else.

Atthe end of April,we'll move t oour permanent site outside Chadiza, whichis outside Chipata. Willpost t hat address soon.

I have an internetphone--so we caneasily reademails butit's h ard to respond with morethan a few words. You can also call--we turn iton( our time) from 5-8 pm ish. the number= 0978964836. google the country code.consider using skype!

we a re very h appy here-- PC takes good ca re of us andour host family is so friendly. no complaints except they're working us to death in training-- thisis our first break in aweek.

We've started sending letters & will r espond to all. We hope to have more regular access oncewe're at our permanent site, so don't forget about us!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I have been disappointed to find that most of Zambia's wildlife has been hunted down and eaten. So we've seen no zebras, giraffes or lions wandering down Chalimbana Road. However, Zambia is a giant petting zoo. As I write this, a goat bleats nearby. My afternoon meeting opened with a confused and hoarse rooster. And then there's the drunk guys wandering around everywhere.

Friday, March 14, 2008

brand name

Host mom sent me to market for powdered milk to accompany instant coffee. Her request: "Buy more 'cowbell'."


I don't have a problemwith using apit latrine--it's much less scary th an anything at the state fair or acollege bar on the weekend. The h ole is deep enough thatyou can't smell or see anything. My problem is aim.

Monday, March 10, 2008

daily routine haiku

wake up by rooster
eat, study, eat, study, eat
by 9, sleep.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008


loving it! People fantastic. No email, internet phone!? Need letters! Will wb. Learning nyanja, living in hut-heaven.

Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your home page.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

We've arrived! February 25 2008

Hi everybody. We have literally three minutes on the internet to let you know that we arrived safely (no delays! no lost luggage!) and I have even bought a cell phone. Supposedly the cell phone can do internet, so you may be getting another email from us that way, otherwise it will be at least a few weeks-- we leave tomorrow for a site visit,then back to you all!!! lisa

(Posted by Grace-if you want Lisa's cellphone number, please email me at Just take out the BLAHBLAHWEHATESPAM part of the address --what's left is my real address.)