Saturday, November 29, 2008

Home sweet village

Trevor leaves tomorrow for home while i stay two more weeks in the big
city training teachers.

He is excited to get back to where no running water or electricity
feels like camping rather than squalor.

Yesterday the power was out all day so at dinner time the housekeeper
here at the guest house lit us a brazier of charcoal. I sat with her
under the insaka out back and boiled pasta while she cooked beans. She
declared the noodles delicious and insisted on washing our dishes,
depriving Trevor of his usual chore. I have a feeling he will get even
more spoiled this week in the village as our host family fusses over
him. They don't approve of the way i let him help with woman work. He
may spend the week behind an ox cart instead.

No thanks

We are back to being our usual ungrateful selves today as we suffer
through an entire day with no water in town and our guest house blares
bad congolese pop music, though it recently switched to abba which
believe it or not is an improvement.

I passed the 50000 word mark for nov yesterday but won't be able to
officially finish on the Nanowrimo site as the web is not cooperating
in zambia lately.

Wah. Well, At least the power has been on all day.

By the way i haven't tried the caterpillers yet. They are sold raw and
seem like something that would be easier to stomach if cooked well and
by somebody else so i can forget what i'm eating.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Today i'm thankful that the power AND Water stayed on all day so we
were able to eat stuffing and pumpkin pie. And to wash up after.

I'm thankful that i happened to be sitting by the phone when my parents called.

I'm also very thankful that the holiday provided us a legit excuse to
miss an afternoon of semi painful presentations at the education

and that somebody left a fairly recent people magazine at the house
for me to read while i lounge like a beached turkey.

Happy thanksgiving

I hope everybody out there has a good turkey day. We are spending the
morning in our workshop but then will head to the house where folks
are already busy baking turkeys and pies. We look forward to eating
ourselves into a coma.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The rain again

I was just packing up to sneak out of the workshop for an extended
lunch break when rain started pouring down. The rainy season is here.
You can't hide from it. So i hiked up my jeans and grabbed my broken
umbrella. I am enjoying the veggie burger even more knowing i have
time for ice cream after.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The eastern province education volunteers have come in early to help
out with a workshop. They told us to dress down for full participation
so i'm wearing jeans but the ladies are dressed in their finest
zambiao tailored bridesmaid dresses. Still they jump right in singing
when the trainers start in. Zambians are always willing to act silly
together which is funny considering how stiff and polite they usually
are. We are learning from each other.

Monday, November 24, 2008


After my run this morning, i got the housekeeper at our guesthouse to
bring me bath water.

Anywhere else, i would expect paid lodging to come with hot running
water, clean towels, and a basket of little shampoos. In america a
have spent days in the tub. Here, i'm thrilled that i didn't have to
carry the water down the hill. And it was hot! What luxury.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


We are in the big city to celebrate thanksgiving with the other people
who consider it a holiday. And a big peace corps meeting.

Since we were here last, the ice cream place opened, and it sells
pizza. As if this was not enough, it is caterpillar season. They are
offered all over the market, sold by the cup full. They look like big
dried beans. With legs.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Small victories

Trevor is feeling good about some small successes this week. His tree
seedlings are growing strong. The council has picked up on his
proposal to buy trash cans, and public toilets may be next. And he
looks forward to planting his field of cow peas and peanuts.

Plus tomorrow we head to the big city for a week of meetings and
thanksgiving with friends. For the moment It's blessedly cloudy. Life
is good today.


I am getting used to people staring at me all the time. But what
continues to freak me out is the way guys on bikes give me the dead
eye look while unconsciously veering towards me. They correct at the
last moment which is dicey on gravel.

It's my mom's birthday today! If you see her give her a hug from me willya?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Number crunch

Among the many items we brought back from our trip: bike odometers and
an outdoor thermometer. Now i know exactly how slow i am on my bike
and exactly how blazing hot it is. More than a hundred degrees just
about every afternoon. Not sure either piece of technology is
enhancing my life right now.

I ran into a guy from the education office who told me it will be this
hot until march. Lord help us. His name translates as small meat.
Sometimes zambia makes it hard to be mature. Like when Art told us the
word for monkey. It's pronounced poo-say.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

More wildlife

Sightings this week include a tiny green snake in the outhouse, the
banana sized slugs that have come out since the rain started, a giant
monkey up by the water hole, and the lady who tried to steal my shoes.

There was no power in town for a few days so our phones died. Also i
have been slogging on the word challenge. Up past thirty thousand
words but i'm way behind on letters and email. So hello and sorry if
anyone feels neglected. I'll write in dec but Trevor is keeping up so
you may hear from him first. Unless you are a reader who we don't
actually know in which case you should leave a comment and say hi
because i am fascinated that anyone beyond my patient and kindhearted
friends reads this. My mom doesn't even read it! So thanks..

I am procrastinating typing up today's words. I bet you figured that
out already. Ok bye.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wildlife report

Today we saw a giant monkey up at the spring and Trevor identified the
tiffany blue bird We've been admiring as a blue waxbill.

A stranger came to our door wanting food and water which i gave. When
She tried to walk away wearing my shoes i called for help. Our host
mom said she's a crazy lady who lives down the road.

We had been wondering what help is available to the mentally ill here.
Apparently the answer is none.

Monday, November 17, 2008


People were asking me what moms here use for diapers. I didn't know
until this weekend when we spent the day with bensons family. He of
the wife and the monkey chasing wife.

They use old chitenges, then a layer of plastic pants. It's about as
absorbant as the huggies thong, as Trevor discovered when he held
benson junior for five minutes and wound up with a wet lap.

The baby also had a string of beads around his waist. Some type of
protection i suspect.

Send good thoughts Trevor's way, will you? He is having a rough time
lately. Not just the wet lap.

Friday, November 14, 2008


As of today we are 33 1/3 finished with our peace corps service. In
america we would mark the occasion by spinning some vinyl and sipping
a frosty one. Here those are not options so we are at a loss about how
to properly celebrate.

Any ideas?

Mango season

It is again too hot to sleep. I got through the night only with the
help of damp hankies draped across my body. I don't think Trevor slept
much at all.

I think god is trying to make it up to us with mangos.


I sat in on a meeting of the women's cooperative yesterday. It was
held under a tree by the clinic. There were more than thirty women and
nobody wore the same chitenge. I caught some words like chicken and
seeds and cook but the drama came when everybody had to sign the
ledger. Most signed by way of a thumbprint made by scribbling on their
finger with a pen. While they waited some ladies practiced writing
their signature in the dirt. The secretary had to coach most of them
through their names letter by letter.


At the market i finally bought the lavender linen flax brand skirt i
have eyed for months. The salaula lady wanted twenty pin the first
time i asked but it had migrated from a rack inside to the pile
outside where she lays and watches people buy vegetables. I figured
its price fell with its status. Wed she only wanted five pin. I bought
it and will turn it into a sun dress to help me endure this brutal

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mango season

Mango season is here. I just bought four ripe ones in the market for
500 kwacha. Fifteen cents. I'm still watching the trees by our house
where the mangos are still green.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Anybody else out there tackling the monster? I figured i would never
have a better shot at finishing it than this year. Up to 17000 so far.
It's not a novel but It's something.


We spent the morning in the garden. Trevor finally earned that badge
for hauling manure on his bike. We planted lettuce, spinach, beans,
basil, watermelon. I have a bunch of seedlings started by colleen's
baggie method awaiting transfer to peat pots.

We will go to chipata in a few weeks to celebrate thanksgiving with
our fellow white people. It is funny to be celebrating the harvest
since folks here are slowly going hungry as they await the first
plants. We see kids gnawing on green mangoes.

At least we have reliable water again. The first rains have recharged
the springs a bit.

Monday, November 10, 2008


We met with the patron of the fledgling media club at the high school.
We are all excited about this project and realizing that one challenge
will be teaching the students about what media is. They have never
used a computer or read a daily newspaper or watched tv news.

We hope to share examples of good media with them. If you are a nerd
with high speed internet would you consider burning a cd of npr
podcasts for us? You will find a link on their home page.

I am thinking of weekend edition especially but we would also enjoy
studio 360 and world cafe for our free time. God i miss public radio.

It's probably not necessary to be a nerd but i think it helps..

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Small world

Further evidence. I was riding to town yesterday when stopped by a
lady on a motorcycle. Do you know josh in nimba? She asked. Nimba is
probably six hours from here. Yes i know him. She said he sends his
greetings, and rode off.

Maybe what this illustrates best is how few white people there are
here and how not anonymous we are.

Speaking of being white a friend asked me if they will rename the
white house now that black folks are moving in. She thought it was
called that because only whites are allowed.

I am starting to get why they are so shocked and thrilled about Obama.
It challenges what they thought they knew about americans.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


We returned to the village yesterday and after dinner our friend
stopped by for the Obama stuff i brought him. He slapped the bumper
sticker on his bus before driving off to change into the shirt and
watch election returns.

We got two texts before we had gotten out of bed. We are all very
excited here.

Not so thrilling is the heat. Io bed last night i had pools of sweat.
Actual drops. I am more of a glisten person in general. But this is
professional level heat. When we hang up the new thermometer we will
know just how bad.

Trevor says instead of doubling peace corps, Obama should get us air
conditioning. I would take a fan even.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Zingalume School

Note the girls sweeping the yard with brooms made of twigs. Yep, that's a classroom.

Hot holidays

One surreal thing about being back in Africa is that we left Missouri in fall weather, cold and rainy. Here, it's hot and windy. The grocery store in South Africa was advertising "Summer Christmas specials." Even here in Zambia, there are Santas and fairy lights for sale. It hurts my brain to anticipate Christmas in summer weather, but at least they're on the bandwagon of putting out holiday decorations right around Halloween.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Domestic life

This is Trevor washing dishes up at the spring. Below is Trevor opening the pseudo-gate, a bunch of sticks propped up to form a door.


We have made it back to Zambia, at least. We're in Chipata until tomorrow-- election day!!-- when our fearless leader drives us back to the village. (She's going on other business, lucky for us.)

It feels like home, especially since we've already bumped into four people we know, just wandering around town. By the time we sleep in our own bed tomorrow night, we will have been traveling six entire days. Plus the time change, which I think adds an extra day.

Maybe it's good that the journey has taken so long; it feels like we have traveled the distance we have traveled, both physically and psychologically. I was sad to leave Americaland, but I'm glad to be back in Zambia.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


That's Art, our language tutor. He's awesome.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


This is one of the new dogs. Bingo? Tiger? Njala? Kaya?
Who knows.

I wasn't choking it, I swear. Just trying to help it pose for a glamour shot.