Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cowpea sausages

Several of you have asked about the Cowpea sausages. They took all
freaking day to make. First you boil the peas, then chat with the
ladies while peeling off the skins or bags as they are called here.
That was the long part. Then you pound them along with oil, tomato
powder, garlic, salt. Form into hot dog shapes and fry, saving the oil
for later frying. Then take the sausages home and cook them in sauce.
We ate ours with mustard. They were delicious but not enough for me to
do the work at home. Who has all day.


When we left for our training in Lusaka it was cold enough that we
wore socks at night and slept under a down comforter. While we were
gone it got hot. We have spent the past few afternoons hiding from the
sun in our hut. The good thing is our bath water heats up in the sun
almost instantly. So much so that we dilute it with cold. Today trevor
hiked a hill with our neighbor koh. They report that the cold beers
afterward tasted especially good.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Amid talk of world hunger these days we have our own private food
crisis in Chadiza. The family already eats shima for every meal and
there is still plenty of corn but they alternate relishes, the veg mix
you pick up with the shima. Until this week, that is, when goats got
in the garden and ate all the pumpkin leaves. Host mom complained that
she doesn't feel like eating since It's rape yet again.
At least this answers my question of whether Zambians get sick of the
same food every day.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Several people have emailed with concern about how the death of Zambia's president will affect political stability.

We don't know, though of course people assume that the transition will be stable, as Zambians are peaceful people. They achieved independence without bloodshed, so we're hoping elections will be smooth. Of course, that's what they thought in Kenya, too.

We got to witness history Saturday, when our taxi was diverted by a roadblock as we passed by the site of the funeral. Mourners lined the streets to pay tribute to the procession. 

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy happy!

If you see my grandma, wish her a happy birthday! She turns 97 today. 

Lamely, I forgot to send her a card, though I've been aware of her birthday every day for weeks. (Mostly hoping that I have inherited her longevity. I definitely got the family chin.)

I wish I had a great picture of her to post, as there are many since she is so darned cute, but I'm using somebody else's computer. We're staying with expats in Lusaka, soaking up their satellite TV, chowing down on real Ritz crackers from the USA, and even reading a People magazine that is still on American newstands. It's going to be surreal to go back to the village tomorrow. 

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Even gmail is now wonky. Supposedly it's because the cell phone company has been bought. For whatever reason, we haven't been able to check email from the phone lately. Fingers crossed that all will be resolved soon.

Friday, August 22, 2008


We've just finished a week of in-service training that marks the end of our community entry period, our first three months at site. The training included two days of project-development in conjunction with our village counterparts. We learned things like how to make a Problem Tree. Even if they didn't learn anything, our partners from the adult literacy project were thrilled to be invited to Lusaka by Peace Corps. The workshop was a validation of our working relationship that I think will jumpstart a burst of activity when we return to the village. 

We learned about the importance of allowing projects to be driven by community interests. My counterpart, Art, admired the Zambian handbags carried by many PCVs. He thinks we should start a sewing workshop as an income-generating activity in our village.

This is an idea I can support with enthusiasm.

Monday, August 18, 2008


We have come back to lusaka for more pc training. It's time to get
serious about the projects we will tackle over the next two years.
Also It's a chance to catch up with our group. Unless they are in our
province, folks may as well live on mars. We are spread far and wide
across a country with two barely paved roads.
People seem happy. Deep tans and scruffy hair. There seems to be a
general sense of calm now that we have settled into our own village

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Monkey hut

Across the road from our house is this hill, with cornfields and a hut for guarding the corn harvest against marauding baboons.


Occasionally we eat at one of the restaurants in town. This one is called Country Kitchen. I asked for soya pieces, which they didn't have, so I went next door and bought a package. Then the cook took me into the kitchen so I could show her how to prepare them.


Several weeks ago, I took a tour of local literacy classes. This one meets outside a local village. They don't have much in the way of supplies, as you can see.

Trevor and Elias

Elias is our host father. He is always running around Chadiza. One of his many projects is building a shop in town where he plans to sell "many small things."

Cowpea Sausages

I learned how to make cowpea sausages the other day with one of the volunteer literacy teachers. The best part was hanging out in her house and chatting all morning.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Indian food! And more

We are still reeling in a sugar and info coma following yesterday's
historic mail haul, which included every possible flavor of fruit
leather, indian food, and vanity fairs. This batch of mail includes
the prize for most unexpected correspondant, my friend heather's mom
vickie, who i have not seen since heather's wedding, two kids ago. Hi
vickie! Thanks! Everyone else, personal shout outs to come when i get
to chipata. Hopefully tomorrow.


Monday, August 11, 2008


Last weekend the carpenter finished our new shelves. To protect them
from the termites that eat our walls and wood we bought varnish.
Elias wandered up while i smeared it around with a corn cob. He rooted
under the chicken house for a minute and emerged with feathers he tied
with a piece of string from a mealie meal sack. African paint brush he
told me. It worked much better than the corncob.



Unlike me, Trevor is never shy. Saturday when we rode past a church
choir practicing outside, Trevor thought he heard someone say stop. So
he did. I turned back to see him dancing along with them. We taught
them the only song i could recall from many years of church camp and
they offered us sweet beer. Joy joy joy down in my heart.


Saturday, August 9, 2008


Our youngest host brother, Emmanuel. He is four years old and loves to eat sugar cane and to play with cars, though he quickly loses them in the sand. He also loves drawing. Loves: soccer/football, drawing, cars, sugar cane. Hates: cold baths.

Music in the air

There is a fundraiser going on at the Jehovah’s Witness church that we pass on our way into town. There have been crowds there this week, and groups of women are riding around on the back of flatbed trucks drumming up business by singing. I love the joyous acapella harmonies that float into the air.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Holiday spirit

Christmas spirit is in full force in Chadiza, maybe because it’s still chilly in the mornings. This morning on my ride to town, I passed a woman wearing a santa hat. By the post office, I saw a lady wearing a Twelve Days of Christmas sweatshirt. Do they know it’s Christmas, indeed.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


In attendance at the inaugural literacy class: five adult students, three babies, five children watching from a safe distance, one herd of cows tramping through the assembled students. One of the cows wandered into the classroom building we were sitting outside, giving me a rare opportunity to make a funny in the local language: “The cow wants to study.”

During class, there was lots of laughter (not just at my joke), seemingly because people though it was so hilarious to hear English coming out of their own mouths.

Get about

Many grateful thanks to Trevor's former colleagues, whose packet of
coffee and tshirt has got about the globe into our greedy paws. Trevor
is composing a letter that will take its sweet time making its way to
you. Thanks!


I am unusually busy this week with teacher meetings that start with
typical Zambian punctuality. The good thing is this gives me lots of
time to knit. The bad thing is i don't have enough padding on my butt
to sit in a wood chair all morning.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

World meats

Trevor had another culinary first yesterday when he tasted impala.
Since impalas look like deer he expected it to taste like venison, but
it reminded him of beef.
I did not try the meat. I did still have one of those wow i live in
africa moments though riding my bike on a bush path to a literacy club
meeting at a nearby village. The only sign of human inhabitation was
the dirt path marked with footprints and bike tire treads. Being so
far from so called civilization would have freaked me out recently.
But i knew exactly where i was. And that i was surrounded by people,
even if it seemed like i was alone. It feels very normal here. That is
amazing to me.


I just finished reading Ann Patchett’s book Bel Canto, about birthday party guests who get taken hostage by terrorists. Lately it seems like every book I read relates to my Peace Corps service, but this one did especially.

Even though we are, after all, volunteers, I think every one of us goes through bouts of feeling held hostage, of serving out a sentence, of “us” versus “them.” Opera plays a big role in the book, and while I am not an opera fan, I agree that music grounds us in time and place. When I am listening to or making music, I am here and now. Like when I ride past the church and hear the drifting harmony.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Happy farmers day!

We celebrated by cursing our cell reception and taking a bike ride to
the nearby big hill. We left our bikes with a family shelling beans
and hiked up up up. Great views even though we didn't hit the top.
After we snapped digital photos of the family and showed them. Thrills
and giggles all around.

Friday, August 1, 2008


At tutoring today art told us that some people think we peace corps
volunteers are spies. Trevor told him that we are. We live out in the
bush so we can keep an eye on their corn. Personally, i would rather
spy on pigs. They are much more entertaining. They wag their tails
just like fat little puppies. Alas they also eat poo.