This journal chronicles the adventures of a risk-taking, wanderlusting, kaleidoscope-eyed, strong-willed, peace-seeking
explorer taking on the title of Peace Corps Volunteer in the African country of Zambia. Follow me vicariously through
time and space to taste a little slice of my sweet life!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Settling in to PST

Hello blog followers! I have finally gotten my phone set up here in Zambia. They have three major carriers and significant reception in most towns. I now have a 12 digit phone number and very limited data.

At this point I am settling in to Pre Service Training with the other 34 LIFE volunteers like me. We are staying in the town of Chipembi and attending the Farm College here. Each volunteer was placed with a host family in the surrounding villages and was given a bike to commute to language classes and technical training 6 days a week. We were warned that PST was intense and after 4 weeks we are feeling the strain.

Still, I am so happy to have so many new friends with such great attitudes and dispositions. We have all been getting along so well and the days have been flying by.

Where should I begin to update?

Well, as I mentioned I am living in a town called Chipembi, which is north of the country's capital. The is the original land of the Lenja's but there are many languages spoken here, especially English. I am learning to speak Bemba, one of the country's most widespread languages. The traditional land of the Bemba's is in Northeast Zambia. So I can expect to have my final site somewhere up there.

My host family is Bemba, but they all know English. My Bamayo (mother) is the head of the home with 2 of her 4 daughters, Mwiza (13) and Martha (23), oh and baby Mienza (1), son of Martha. It is a lively farming home with gardens and maize fields all around it.

My daily routine consists of waking up to roosters outside of my room before dawn, bathing from a wash basin inside a grass shower enclosure and watching the sun rise, playing with the baby while my older sister cleans the floors and then eating my home mother's awesome egg dishes and dough fritters. By 7:45 I am on my bike headed to language class for 4 hours. I head home for lunch and to the farm college for agricultural training for 4 hours. By the time we all bike home, the sun is setting and the family is home cooking dinner. We eat together and basically gossip for the rest of the evening. While I attempt to study at night, by the time my head hits the pillow I am out like a light.

This is just a quick overview of my day to give everyone reassurance that I'm still alive. I plan to break my day down more and post some pictures too.

Also FYI, it was snowing in Philadelphia when we left, and arrived in Zambia to the rainy hot season. I already have a tan on my arms. Unfortunately my legs will remain pale because women can't expose above their knees....

Overall there are plenty of struggles to keep me on my toes and tired. I'm lucky to have good friends with me and Facebook... Ha! Missing home everyday.

Please stay in touch!
Til next time,
Brandi

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

We are off!!!!

Here is my mailing address for the next three months. Keep in mind letters and boxes will that upwards of 6 weeks to arrive!

Brandi Murphy/PCT
Peace Corps
P.O. Box 50707
Lusaka, Zambia

Love you all!

Monday, February 8, 2016

One Night in Philly



Good Day from Philadelphia!

After an eternally long night of packing I somehow managed to make the weight of both my checked luggage under 50lb (22.7kg) each. I really had to glean but I am pretty satisfied with what I was able to bring. Here’s the breakdown:



I can tell you numerous things on my excel DID NOT make it. I did however get to carry my tent and sleeping back thanks to my awesome external frame backpack from my dad. The other duffle back has back straps and wheels…plus I have a full carry-on backpack and cargo purse. I’m pretty bummed that most of the candy goods didn’t make it… I am happy to have my hammock. Also, I hope my small bottle of Jameson isn’t ransacked, not sure why it would be.

Anyway, I am preparing now to get registered at the hotel and then run out downtown before our sessions begin for the afternoon. Here’s my current itinerary for the next 48 hours:

STAGING DATES: February 8, 2016 - February 9, 2016

REGISTRATION: 12:00 PM on February 8, 2016

STAGING HOTEL: Sonesta Philadelphia Hotel
1800 Market St 19103
(215) 561-7500
www.sonesta.com/Philadelphia‎

SCHEDULE:

February 8, 2016
12:00
PM: Registration
2:00 - 4:25 PM: Who We Are, What You Expect, What's Next
4:25 - 4:45 PM: Break
4:45 - 7:00 PM: What We Expect, Closing

February 9, 2016
2:00
AM: Check out of hotel
2:30 AM: Bus arrives for loading and departure to the airport

INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT ITINERARY:

09 FEB 16 - TUESDAY
AIR UNITED AIRLINES FLT:7226 UNITED ECONOMY LUNCH
NEW YORK JFK-JOHANNESBURG OPERATED BY SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS
LV NEW YORK JFK 1040A EQP: AIRBUS A340-600
DEPART: TERMINAL 4 14HR 55MIN

10 FEB 16 - WEDNESDAY
AR JOHANNESBURG 835A NON-STOP
ARRIVE: TERMINAL A
AIR SOUTH AFRICAN FLT:62 ECONOMY LUNCH
LV JOHANNESBURG 1030A EQP: AIRBUS A320
DEPART: TERMINAL B 01HR 55MIN
AR LUSAKA 1225P NON-STOP


I don’t expect to have cell service or any communications opportunities with overseas after we leave JFK around 10:30AM Tuesday. Upon arrival in the capital of Zambia (Lusaka), we will be shuffled into a hotel..the Barrel Hotel, I think. I am hoping that they will left us crash for the rest of the day and then remain in the hotel for a few days. I have hardly slept in the last week, plus the emotional and mental drain of goodbyes and preparations is tolling. This gig ain’t for the weak!

Still, I am in a very happy state despite all that I am leaving. What I am facing is a sweet unknown world of African culture and geography which I have longer to encounter for so long now. I am privileged, blessed, and gracious beyond belief by all the circumstances that have lined up this path. With a strong, supportive family, half a decade of higher education, and an adventurous spirit all backing me up I am feeling confident with what lies ahead. That’s not to say that I have doubts and regrets…in fact they are expressing themselves as a pretty consistent eye twitch right now….I just need sleep.

So, after my sessions I will probably catch dinner with some of the other volunteers and shuffle my bags some more, as well as, do any downloading or websurfing I need to do before we truck on out of here at 2 AM. Alicia figured we ought to just stay up until then, great idea girl 😉 Hahaa. So, I will plan on posting on more time.



Current Music: Led Zeppelin on shuffle
Current Mood: Autopilot

 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

48 hours to go

Learning curve alert...the mobile version of Blogger does not auto save your draft if you click away from it. Needless to say, I am rewriting what I just got out on paper.

Also, to disclaim, I have been running around shopping and to appointments so hastely that I have hardly stopped to process my reality. Still, I feel enchanted and charged!

Reflecting on all my meetings and gatherings with loved ones to say goodbye, I really just wanted to carry on with them as I ordinarily would. I had lunch with my absolute favorite professor from college and coffee with a political leader who I admire as my friend. I spring-cleaned a butterfly garden on the USFSP campus that I helped create. I Om-circled with my sweet hippie friends at the Blueberry Patch, always magic. I played in the band with the old Tavern crew, and still have their songs stuck in my head. Then my girls took me out for dancing on the town last night, complete with St. Pete's famous Cappy's Pizza! The list continues to go on as I wrap things up here and head back to Lakeland to finish packing and say goodbye to my friends and family there.

On Monday I fly out to Philadelphia at 8 am and check into the Sonesta Hotel for Peace Corps Staging. There, we will meet our fellow crazy volunteers and attend sessions to clue us in on what's ahead, including going over paperwork which I still need to review..

So, I will continue to check in with insights and details of my Peace Corps departure preparations! In fact, I feel much calmer when I do :) Pace is the trick!

✌, Brandi

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Last weekend at the vineyard

The past weekend marked my last few trips down to Bunker Hill Vineyard and Winery. For nearly three years now I have made my way out of town to a grape farm run by environmental advocates, Larry and Lenora Woodham...or as I know them - Pop and Nan. Since the day I introduced myself as their granddaughter's friend from college, I have been connected to them as kindred spirits and gracious employers.

Bunker Hill has a special place in my heart as a respite from my once-busy lifestyle and a learning space for land stewardship and an introduction to small business. While in school, I earned internship credit toward my Environmental Science degree, but I had never imagined finding such a truly sustainable business with such humble owners. They continuously push the envelope for conserving resources and retaining the quality of their wines. From sourcing only local, whole produce to using only bottles recycled from their customers, Bunker Hill is a true green business. I am so gracious to them for all that they have taught me, and for treating me like family.

Kissing their cheeks and receiving gifts from Nan and Pop on Saturday felt like any other day. I have become so at home at the vineyard that it still seems like a regular part of my week to come. Still, I having been running around like a banshee across central Florida these last few weeks just trying to say farewell to loved ones and round out my packing supplies. It just doesn't feel like the "last time" for any of my salutations; however, a mere 6 days are all that's left before I am on a plane to Philly and then off to the African motherland.

With my remaining time, I will continue to visit friends and colleagues to have coffee and cocktails around St. Pete and in Lakeland. I was fortunate to see some of my Murphy family who came to town, as well as, my father's wife who I consider a powerful influence in my life! I set up their Skype accounts and explained that I will be 7 hours ahead of them and I would need adequate power and internet to video chat with them.

If anyone has a Skype account feel free to add me! "brandimurphy40"
I will also have my Facebook active, "brandi.murphy.180"
Soon I will have a temporary mailing address for letters and care packages ;)

More tomorrow!