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!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Transportation in Zambia

We occasionally leave our training village for day trips and visits to Lusaka. When we do, we sometimes take 4WD cruisers or small to medium sized buses. The roads here are mostly dirt and rock...and mud and holes. Traveling to and from town actually gives me anxiety. It feels like the worst carnival ride ever and I usually question the driver's sanity...and these are Peace Corps drivers...

The cruisers could probably double as fall out shelters...but they're still no match for the roads off the asphalt. Looking at a map of Zambia, there are basically 4 paved highway roads stretching NSEW from the capital. My new home will actually because stone's throw off the Great North Road.

We all have bikes to haul to our new sites. It took a while but more that half of us got bike racks on the backs...they can't handle much though. I may not use my bike very often in the village, and I'll probably take public transportation or hitchhike to get to other towns. Hitching is pretty common here, and not always free. People just taxi their cars out and make a ton of money. I am hoping to make friends with people from the national park by my house in order to hitch on with them if they go in to the provincial capital or Lusaka. I also expect to do a lot of camping there!

As I take more public transportation I will have more outrageous travel stories.... For instance, my first "taxi" ride was a guy's tiny 4door Toyota with 6 other people and 2 babies... We were on top of each other, and luggage was piled out of the trunk. I rode this way for 70 km into my nearest town. He also had fresh caught fish hanging from his driver's rear mirror...the smell was intense.  Anyway, the ride cost 50 Kwatcha and took my right to my destination. Otherwise I could have caught a eurovan sized bus ..that gets just as cramped.

Traveling all be an ingoing tension for me. One if the things that continue to make me Africa strong.

Current mood: sinus and throat pains
Current music: On Green Dolphin Street - Miles Davis

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Site Reveals!

So one hidden anxiety all of the trainees have had pertains to the actual location where we will all end up living for our two year service. Based on the origins of the particular language we are each learning comes a village which has requested that the Zambian government send them a PC Volunteer to aid in a specific sector that they feel their community would benefit from. Well the day came and we are now looking into each village and scouring for current volunteers nearby to get insight from.

This week we will actually be meeting our permanent host families for a workshop in the capital and the following week the staff will let us, as bold fledglings, visit our future sites for several nights and even travel, on our own via public transportation, back here to training.

This loosening of the training wheels has been pretty effective to me, despite the drain from a full schedule and cramming a foreign language into my brain. (I'll go into a reflection on training further down the line)

Along foreign culture lines, I had my fill today...

The morning began with a few hours of Bemba lessons including but not limited to conjunctions, strong/polite commands, and shopping/bargaining. I then joined the group in visiting the local Chief at his palace or "ifumu Camuka kwisano". We were all told to dress appropriately so for women that meant cloth wrap skirts known as chitenges..they are often quite colorful or busy with patterns. I am currently having a dress made from chitenge, as well. It is customary to bring the Chief an honorable gift so we had 1 sack of mealie meal (ground maize), 1 sack of sugar, one bottle of cooking oil and a live chicken (shout out to Rikki for handling that thing). Those offering the gifts had a sequence involving kneeling and clapping, we all also got down on our knees when he approached his highnesses chair. The Chief turned out to be extremely well spoken and is taking an active liberal role in his duties. In his lecture (because he is also a teacher at the farm college) he expressed the importance of our work (under God), as well as, the need for gender equality and representation, which I appreciated. I even had a fantastic dance session with the Chief's singing bamayos (motherly women).

Indeed, the cultural differences are becoming more apparent as I spend more time in both the village and the city. Lines are mostly drawn among gender roles. Also, the manual work load is greater here. Of course, I am living and working in a rural farming community...