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, August 23, 2016

Adventures through the Zambian Bush

Local bridge

                 

Magic moments are frequent here. It seems so easy for exactly what should happen to come to fruition because our lives are overall quite simple; very few distractions (only vices) to take us off the right path. Besides that, adventure waits around every corner!

Here's a day in my life:

From my village there are two ways to get to my neighbor's community south of me: by the Tarmac or through the bush. I have traveled there by road, but only about 10km are by motorcar... The remaining 12km are by foot. Needless to say, I've wanted to find the bush path for some time now.
It was a Sunday when my counterpart, Mr. Mambwe, Rodgers, and I set off on our bicycles to reach Andre's place. First, we crossed the long flooded valley where farmers in my community have abundantly irrigated gardens. Then we traveled 8km of straight, slightly sandy path. We found a village soon and took winding paths through their homesteads - and I was supposed to remember the way. Anyway, by this point we had passed a group of rocky hills, making the scenery beautiful and unique. Now it was time to dip down deep into a ravine and cross a river on a wood log bridge (pictured). We walked our bikes all of this time and reached the edge of André's village (about 16km total)!


Mr. Mambwe

I got to catch up with him while Ba Rodgers attended the local church service. Come to find out though, the main reason for traveling this day was for a soccer match between Andre's village and ours (for which, Ba Rodgers is the coach of). So, by noon we were headed to the field where I immediately recognized the young men hanging out in the shade. Upon greeting them, we took spots to hang out and, quickly, more of our players rode up on bikes. Not having seen any local players, we were able to relax and joke around and dance a bit. Two hours and no locals later, I was already feeling pride for my boys, maybe a little too much in front of Andre... But then we were surprised with lunch from a (drunk, but happy) man named Isaiah: nshima and rape (basically kale) for the whole team! Full and energized, the players retreated to the field...for another hour, as it were. By 15:00 hours, the locals came around and we were ready to play. By now, the players were all changing into their red jerseys and those with silicon (not leather, or lined) cleets had them on...the rest play barefooted!

Our guys in red, winning!
The first half of the game we scored one goal and I entertained the children on our side of the field by passing a zamball (usually plastic bags bound by chitenge) and greeting them in Bemba. After halftime I was placing bets with the locals who could speak English and were drunk on beer made from maize (a very common sight in the villages). As the game and the day grew late we were up 3-0 and I was shouting and cheering in Bemba for my boys. After the last whistle, all the women and children from the other side of the field came over dancing and singing for our team's victory.

Now, at the start of dusk, we loaded our bikes and headed back the way we came. First, down the crevassed river pass, we hooted and hollered. Up the other side, through the neighboring village, the night crept in. Still singing, I willfully pedaled in the middle of the parade. I couldn't keep an open mouth grin from my face even with my growing fear of falling off my bike in the dark. The power of the boys' praise songs was echoed throughout the bush. Only the crescent moon lit our way down narrow paths of sand and stone, under sparse forests. As dark as the night became, I exuded elation. Pride for my village team and the adventure I was having. Eventually we made it back to the open valley of the local stream, with millions of stars above our heads... I knew we were home.

I love and miss everybody back in the states...but I hope you're getting a few snapshots of my exciting life here! Enjoy the simplicity in our day and give praise always!

Peace,
Brandi

Current Music: Catching up on 'Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me'
Current Mood: Giddy


Monday, August 1, 2016

First Three Months in the Village



Next week, I will be celebrating my 6-month kilometerstone of living in Zambia! I expected the time to fly by, but I didn't realize just how fulfilling it would be each day. Up until now I have been in the phase of my service know as Community Entry, a time in which I have simply been integrating with my village and getting my home in order. At this time, I have just returned from the capital city, Lusaka, for what was two weeks of workshops and exploring the big city. Lusaka residents live a completely different lifestyle than Zambians in the rural areas of the country, and small towns for that matter. Still, the struggles of the city are apparent as we tried to get around on foot or by taxi. Buses are erratic and extremely unsafe, sometimes the drivers are drunk and you are always battling their attempts to overcharge you....

In Lusaka, there are huge, overwhelming open markets (which are filthy) and large, modern shopping malls (retailers delight). On a visit to the capital, volunteers get to stock up on fancy foods and readymade house goods. Also, dining out in Lusaka is a total luxury, but an expensive one! It's a nice "break" from the simple village life.

At an Irish pub in Lusaka drinking an expensive Guinness!
Out for Korean BBQ and karaoke for Will's B-day!
Back in the vil, I have been getting to know my neighbors...and all the local drama that comes with a small, disparaged community. I've slowly gained a sense of life here, including family matters and making a livelihood from subsistence farming. Right now, farmers are completing the big maize harvest, next comes processing (hand-shucking and milling) and buying and selling among villagers and to the market.

Kalli, who is quickly growing big on a diet of eggs and nshima
Kalli helping harvest maize
Also, I got a kitten! I have named her after the cat I had growing up since she looks just like her! Funnily, Kalli Kay (with different spelling) actually means "let her be" in Bemba....it gets a little confusing at times, ha. She's the best little bed deadweight and mouse chaser and my host family seems to like her.

I want to shout out to my loved ones back home who have sent me letters, post cards, and offered care packages. It is truly my favorite part of this experience to hear from you all in different ways; it really makes me happy. Keep 'em coming!

Here is my new PO Box address:

Brandi Murphy
PO Box 850055
Serenje, Zambia

Once I head back from the Provincial House tomorrow to go back to the village, I'll be getting down to working: planning farming demos, school garden lessons, and bracing myself for the hot season!

Missing everyone back home! xo, Brandi

Current Mood: Anxious
Current Music: I Will - Brandi Carlile