Thursday, July 31, 2008

Love and marriage

Trevor visited a farmer for a tour of his fields. The farmer
introduced him to his wives. Of the second one he said, 'i married
this one to chase away the babboons.' How romantic.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Further foods

For dinner last night we had a vegetable we sometimes enjoy in the
states. Here It's small, white and shaped like an egg. In english we
call it an eggplant. Here It's impwa, a word that has nothing to do
with egg or plant. Tastes pretty good with peanut butter and garlic
sauce, our friend kate's recipe.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Satanic salad

Maybe i misunderstood, but Trevor and i are both sure we heard a lady
on the radio here equate eating raw food with witchcraft. This has
added some spice to our salads. Not sure if the family buys it, though
they do seem to cook their lettuce. With the workers finishing up the
new room, we hid in the house for lunch, furtively chowing down on
chard and sprouts. Host mom chose then to come ask for cooking oil.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

We've got mail

The cosmic postal logjam has finally cleared. I walked out of the post
office today with a comical stack of packages. Trevor has asked me to
hide the skittles lest he hurt himself. We got mail magic from charles
and nora, susan and joe, heather, karen. And lea. Twice! We are wading
through excellent letters, comics, snacks, powdered cheese, god love
it. Thank you all. We are not worthy, but are sure grateful.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


The other day i was washing clothes up at the spring when one of the
boys in the family showed up to do his own laundry. His method
involved splashing some water on the clothes, then spreading them on a
rock and dancing a little jig on them. I can't imagine any american
kid i know hand washing their own clothes but if they had to i think
they would approve of junior's technique.


Trevor has sworn off meetings. I am tempted to do the same. The other
day he left yet another meeting after an hour when it showed no sign
of starting. My meeting yesterday got postponed for the fourth time.
He is spending the morning with a farmer who lives down the road. Much
happier and probably even more productive.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fries with that

Another culinary milestone today. After watching bwalya fry chicken
sunday i felt confident enough to make real fries for the first time
in my life. Trevor was impressed. While we ate, a guy rolled up on his
bike looking for a pump. He got a flat while headed to the boma with a
goat and a pig strapped to his rack. And you thought you were having a
bad day.

Today's milestone

We took advantage of the cheese we brought back from chipata to make
our first village pizza. Baked on the hot coals in our mud stove, it
was a little burnt on the bottom and raw on top. Absolutely delicious.
Host mom strolled over to see what we were up to and sampled a slice.
She pronounced it nice.

Monday, July 21, 2008


We had a tutoring session with art phiri this morning. He was sad
because somebody stole one of his oxen this weekend. They skinned it
right outside his house. His dogs didn't even bark. This led art to
conclude the thief used magic. Now He needs a new ox to complete his


I spent the most excellent day yesterday baking with my friend bwayla.
We had to adjust our recipes a little based on availability, but the
bagels cookies and brownies were edible. No, excellent. Trevor would
gladly live on bagels alone so he was thrilled.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Another round trip from Chadiza to chipata under our belts. Or wheels.
Still havent managed to make the ride in less than five hours, todays
trip slowed by many stops to retrieve Trevors flying overloaded bike
bag. Gravel and gravity conspiring. We arrived to find the guys
working on our addition. A third room rises from dirt. Arriving here
this afternoon, it felt like home,

Friday, July 18, 2008

Big city

We're spending a few days in the big bad city, renewing our work papers and stocking up on food. The most unexpected things are sometimes available here. Huge chunks of cheddar cheese, strawberry Rice Krispies (no other flavor), apple-flavored Orbit gum, little Equal tablets, Doritos. But no stick deoderant, cheese slices, or our usual granola. The ice cream machine at Shop Rite has been broken, as is the ATM-card-making machine at Barclays. But the Indian-ish restaurant down the street has overpriced cupcakes with pink frosting.

We take what we can get, and are grateful.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Lately, several people have mentioned that they'd like to visit.

Come on down! (Or over, or whatever it is from where you are to where we are.)

We would love any and all visitors, even if we haven't talked in a long time, even if you are a total stranger. Honestly. If you're crazy enough to make the trip here, we will be thrilled to host you. If all goes well, we will even have a new and expanded hut soon-- we've got orders in for both bricks and thatch, and supposedly the mason comes Sunday. We even have a spare mosquito net! So buy those plane tickets and fill your suitcase with parmesan cheese. We'll be waiting.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Is the best tool for cross cultural and inter generational
communication ever. Yesterday i took advantage of the boys being gone
to teach my host sister how to throw. Lots of laughing. And the girl
has good aim too.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I finally finished knitting the purple socks i started nearly a year
ago. I cast on while tre and i were driving to vermont via new york to
help grace and gladys build their house. A bear broke in to our car
one night and gorged on baked goods. Mostly bagels. The socks, i
started three times before i figured out how to cast on right.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Trevor report

Highlights of the Trevor experience this week.
Another fine meeting of the kid environment club. A great letter from
eric. Phone calls with both parents. Invented new mixed drink
involving gin and pineapple crush soda stuff. Harvested huge salads
worth of greens. Found new stations on world band. Minor bike crash
during exploration of nearby mountain. Shaved beard with crazy tan
line as result. Planted coffee beans.

Trevor report

Highlights of the Trevor experience this week.
Another fine meeting of the kid environment club. A great letter from
eric. Phone calls with both parents. Invented new mixed drink
involving gin and pineapple crush soda stuff. Harvested huge salads
worth of greens. Found new stations on world band. Minor bike crash
during exploration of nearby mountain. Shaved beard with crazy tan
line as result. Planted coffee beans.


I spent a lovely morning with two of the literacy teachers, learning
how to make cowpea sausages. Just after noon i dropped by the office,
hoping to get lunch with Trevor. Instead i found a meeting in progress
that i was supposed to be at. Worse yet, when i sat down and scanned
the agenda i saw my own name, albeit misspelled. I was to give the
next presentation. I am really glad i wore deodorant today. And that
i can fake my way through anything.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


It’s not all mouse around here.

Just this week, our host family brought a big bunch of bananas harvested behind their bathing shelter. Zambian bananas come in several varieties, none of which are like the generic American ones. These were short, fat and firm. They hold up well to a slathering of peanut butter.

Also on the menu this week: apples imported at great expense from South Africa (and totally worth it in my opinion), and oranges plucked from local trees. During training, we ate our weight in guavas, but those have been finished for awhile now.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Trevor ate his first mouse this week. Well, half of one. After the first piece, he couldn’t put the rest in his mouth. “It’s not the taste,” he says. “I remember a little face coming at me.”
The mouse, which Trevor described as “gooey with the occasional bone,” was caught in the field behind our house by Junior, one of our host family’s nine kids.
Curious about mouse cuisine, we asked our language tutor for more information. Art told us that Zambians eat field mice, which come in varieties described as fast runners and fat slow ones, but not house rats. He explained the different types of traps and reminisced about his own childhood exploits in mouse catching.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Lost Continent

I finally finished Bill Bryson’s “The Lost Continent,” which I bought at the DC airport just before boarding our flight to Zambia in February.

I had hoped it would inspire me in my own travel writing. Instead, I’ve thrown it down several times in irritation.

Bryson is a great writer on a sentence level, but in this book he’s horribly unfair to small-town America, dismissing towns and even entire states on the basis of what he sees while cruising through on the highway. He similarly short-changed the Appalachian Trail after hiking a mere 400 of 2,160-plus miles.

It’s possible that my attitude was clouded by homesickness and a strong nostalgia for truck stops, rest areas, and waitresses who call me “hon.” I’m already dreaming about the road trips Trevor and I will take in 2010. Unlike Bryson, we will travel with an attitude of appreciation.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Garden report

The garden is jamming under Trevor’s diligent watering and weeding. Already we have harvested cilantro, basil and lettuce. Still to come are broccoli, beets, beans, tomatoes, spinach, and flowers. We have also been chowing on the lentil, alfalfa, broc, and radish sprouts my mom sent.

Our predecessor left a huge sack of seeds at the PC house in Chipata. We distributed some of them to our host family, who were most excited about carrots.

The other day, the friend of a friend gave us a curry root that looks sort of like ginger. I never suspected that curry is an actual plant. The Chichewa name for it is the same word as “yellow.”

Also, when we stopped to buy cookies during a long bike ride the other day, an old man presented Trevor with a shriveled fruit that he said will yield a plant that repels snakes. I wonder if there’s something we can plant for tarantulas.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence day

It's the fourth of july here, which means we get a holiday but are not
supposed to go anywhere still.
We heard the president of zambia had died but bbc says its not true.
Dont know how it would affect us if at all.
In other news i have been able to access my Gmail account even though
yahoo is still broke. In doing Gmail i found a bunch of comments that
i never read. Hi commenters! Thanks for commenting. Ill figure out how
to respond some day. Also monica in south africa, come visit any time!
Hope you are enjoying friends fireworks and deviled eggs today.
Careful with those sparklers, hear?

Thursday, July 3, 2008


After getting spoiled by email access on the internet phone, yahoo has
quit working on us. Working on a fix but meanwhile know that we are
alive and will respond to messages soon. Many posts pending

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Produce comes in and out of season on a schedule we do not yet understand. Tomatoes seem to always be available, along with onions, greens and cabbage. I bought a purple eggplant at the market yesterday. Little white ones that look like eggs were popular a month or so ago. We had green beans for a few weeks, but I haven’t seen any lately. I’ve only managed to buy one lonely avocado, but I search for them avidly every time I shop. I asked Trevor’s friend about planting an avocado, but he says it would take five years to bear fruit. Dang!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Prepared food is hard to come by in Chadiza. There’s a covered open-air market where ladies sell yeast buns in three sizes ranging from dinner-roll-size up to one that yields four slabs of bread if sliced carefully; fried fritters like big donut lumps; and sometimes rice-filled samosas that cost 100 kwacha each. (I had five for lunch today. They are deliciously greasy.)

Women also sell popcorn informally all around town. For 500 kwacha (about 15 cents), you can buy a plastic bag the size of a Nerf football. It’s lip-burningly salty and goes well with Coke Light, now stocked in cans AND bottles in several Chadiza shops, thanks to a certain white lady who prefers it over the ubiquitous regular Coke.

The most common prepared “food” is actually a drink called Super Maheu. You can buy it in the smallest tuck shops. It is a slurry of corn meal, sugar and water and seemingly thousands of flavors, including banana, cream, and chocolate. Maheu comes in colorful plastic jugs that form the chassis of toy trucks Zambian boys pull around on string.