’11 Aug: Zambia

Livingstone, Lusaka, ‘Up Country’ with the Peace Corps and Approriate Technology, and the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage.

The view of the…

July 29-August 2 Livingstone

The view of the Zambezi River from the balcony of my fabulous room at the Zambezi Riverfront Hotel compliments of Bushways Safari although they certainly didn’t mean that I should get such a great room so it must have been all that was available.

Mindy met me here…

Mindy met me here and we enjoyed dinner with the safari group, an after dinner beer and Ke Ale Bo Ha with OT, and then a good nights sleep.

This is one corner of the room. There is also the balcony, a desk area, a sitting area, and closets. That’s the door to the bathroom. It took 30 minutes to get 7 inches of hot water into the bathtub but ohhh what luxury after 15 nights in the bush.

You can’t tell but there is no roof on the bathroom and there is a space between the traditionally thatched roof and the wall such that in the morning a monkey came into the room and stole an apple from the top of the coffee table leaving a big monkey mess in the bathtub. Monkeys, it seems, are gifted at finding apples.

Victoria Falls…

Victoria Falls

A pano from one of the many viewing stations we visited which of course does not do it credit. You can’t see its extent, you can’t see the bottom, and you can’t hear it. It is AWESOME.

There is a big difference seasonally. We are now in the middle of the dry season which some have said is perfect. In the wet season the falls are so full you can’t see anything because of the mist. At the end of the dry season they lose some of their thunder.

I wanted to look…

I wanted to look over the edge but didn’t want to soak my camera so I left it with Mindy and this is what happens when you leave your camera with Mindy.

We walked over to…

We walked over to behind the falls, behind what you can see in the photo above, and found this winning double rainbow.

And a photo of…

And a photo of Mindy at the location where goofing around tourists die.

Just a few months ago a guy was at this very place and waded a little into the water. He then got spooked by a monkey, fell, and went over into oblivion. Be careful Mindy!

From here you can see the walking bridge and further back the bridge that joins Zambia and Zimbabwe.

We spent some time…

We spent some time on the bridge and then went up to a café made for this view.

Livingstone is well-known around for its FunTivities. That’s what everyone calls it. There are wildlife related FunTivities, river FunTivities, and bridge FunTivities. Bridge FunTivities all involve jumping off the bridge connected to various life saving devices. There’s the zip-line, the swing, and the bungee.

Here’s a bungee jumper, head first, into a deep deep gorge. Right.

The same jumper. …

The same jumper. That line will eventually stretch out and his hands will barely touch the water.

I have a long sequence from my New Zealand trip of bungee jumpers in Queensland so I knew what to expect but still, I can NOT imagine.

Around Town…

Around Town

That’s the Livingstone Museum above, the main street on the left and a side street on the right.

The museum was pretty…

The museum was pretty good. This is the lobby, no other photos allowed.

Mindy thought the cultural displays were right on and the whole effort better than the similar museum in the capital city. The artifacts were well displayed and the stories were interesting and informative.

HURRAY! FINALLY my…

HURRAY! FINALLY my first street food in Africa. Nothing in South Africa, nothing in Botswana, so Finally.

It was perfect – a fried sweet potato. YUM!

You know how I…

You know how I always like to find the cathedral. Maybe they don’t have a cathedral here as this is the biggest Catholic church I saw.

Mindy said the predominant religions are Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is overall a very Christian country. The stores, taxis, waiting rooms, everywhere you hear the radio they are playing local Christian Rock or a sermon. That seems to be the two stations in Livingstone anyway.

It’s all in English too. There are 72 local languages in Zambia so the lingua franca is English and is spoken everywhere outside the villages where you might find only local language speakers.

This day we were…

This day we were going to do a FunTivity like a walk with the lions or an elephant ride but neither one of us wanted to do those things more than we wanted a spa treatment.

So we found a place in town and both got pedicures and Mindy got a facial and I got a massage. Lovely! This woman did rip at my heels with a razor blade absolutely determined that I would not leave her care with a shred of dead skin on my foot.

‘You must be beautiful’ she said. Yikes, my heels are still sore…but clean…

Jolly Boys Backpackers…

Jolly Boys Backpackers

Here in Zambia they don’t have hostels, they have backpackers, but it is the same place with just a different name.

The most well regarded backpackers in Livingstone are here on the main street but by the time we got around to booking (and that would be yesterday…) they were all full…

…but one of the…

…but one of the best, Jolly Boys, had recently opened a second location and we got space there.

It was perfect and we stayed for three nights.

There’s Mindy sitting on our veranda doing work. We had two single beds with mosquito net (as always here), a little table with a lamp between the beds, a small shelf, and an overhead light…shared bathrooms and showers across the way.

I loved it in there, it was so cozy and just right, including of course the price.

They had a great…

They had a great lounge for socializing, a small bar, and a café that offered tasty and well priced meals, and a pool even and a nightly bonfire.

And like backpackers always do, they had shared kitchen facilities which is so perfect for extended stays when you want to be able to make food.

Mindy, you go! …

Mindy, you go! She brought me coffee every morning(!) and made breakfast eggs just the way I like them with onions, tomatoes, and cheese. Lucky ME.

The Booze Cruise…

The Booze Cruise

We decided to do a FunTivity on the river. They call it a Zambezi River Wildlife Cruise. Everyone else calls it The Booze Cruise because the main attraction is Free Booze.

When we got on the ‘boat’ for our ‘cruise’ there was one stool we could find and got ourselves a little spot on the rail to sit. We thought, ok, let’s go. But no. About twelve more people got on.

They had food for maybe 28 people, seats for maybe 28 people, and there were at least 40 people onboard. They did not, however, run out of Gin and Tonic.

We had three nice…

We had three nice sightings on our ‘cruise’. This guy who was plenty big but still half the size of the one in the Okavango…

…a monitor lizard that…

…a monitor lizard that is also huge. His front legs and his back legs are touching and the rest of his body, the part between the legs which is good sized, is bent into that hole…

But the coolest thing…

But the coolest thing of all was the kid on the right.

He, his brother on the left, and his teen-aged, provocatively dressed sister are living with their aunt and her white husband in London while their mother stays in Zambia.

I showed the young one this picture and he was so excited. He stood right up next to me with wide eyes so I asked him if he wanted to take some pictures. “Oh yes Please!” So I put the camera around his neck, set him on my lap to help him hold the thing, and he set off about 50 shots of his mom. He couldn’t get enough of taking pictures of his mom and then when it was time to leave he said “will you give me a hug?”. How sweet is That?

We took the Mazhandu…

August 2-6 Lusaka

We took the Mazhandu service from Livingstone to Lusaka and paid extra for the Business Class bus, also called the Bwana Bus, so we could spend the seven hours in relative comfort. It was quite fine.

Our first night in…

Our first night in I stayed with Mindy and other volunteers at a Peace Corps accommodation and then moved to a guest house for the next three nights while Mindy had to be with the 36 new volunteers coming in the next day.

It’s beer and two-for-one pizza from the Twofer Tuesday place. Welcome to Lusaka!

from left to right:
Major, Ski, Christine, Otter, Britney, Mindy, Lindsey

And arriving at the…

And arriving at the Peace Corps Zambia headquarters.

For the first time in recent memory I actually lost some pictures – 26 of them all from Lusaka. The pictures of my guest house, some street scenes, some photos from the office, all gone.

I am perfectly sanguine about it though which is the thing that surprises me most. Oh well. I bought a new 8 gig memory card for my camera and it works a little differently and I forgot and boom, pictures erased. It was my own fault…I could feel it about to happen…And I won’t be doing That again!

The Peace Corps Zambia…

The Peace Corps Zambia headquarters is a US government facility and the security is relatively serious but not such that you’d notice once you got past the guards.

The tent was up for the Welcome ceremonies for the new volunteers. All those pathways connect the various buildings around the compound.

I mostly hung out…

I mostly hung out here at the Peace Corps Volunteers Office and worked on my safari story.

It took AGES to get all that done since I hadn’t spent any time at all during the 17 days of the safari. Two to four hours for a day’s pictures and story at 17 days is a full time job!

Everyone was so NICE….

Everyone was so NICE. Is it like a Peace Corps prerequisite or something?

These guys, Mark and Sydney, are volunteers who met in the Peace Corps, got married, extended for a third year, and are now done, going home, finished the last form, got the last signature, they are Ringing Out.

This is the Ringing Out ceremony where whoever is around gathers to say good-bye to the leavers. Speeches are made, tears are shed, and then the people leaving whack that tire rim with that stick, and Ring Out.

It was really really…

It was really really sentimental. They made me cry!

from the front, left to right:
Shabo, Sydney, Mark, Jonathan, Henry
Joey, Denise, Babs, Barbara, Joy, Lauren
?, Cibo, Eness, Sha, Ivy, Courtney

We left Lusaka in…

August 6-8 Serenje

We left Lusaka in a Cruiser with these folks here, to drop off the new volunteers for their first Site Visit before formal training begins.

As in almost all of the Peace Corps volunteer sites in Zambia this place has no electricity and no running water. Will has been posted here for about 18 months now.

from left to right:
‘Bama, Valley Boy, Farm Girl, Mindy, Will, Hammy, Francis

Volunteers are placed by…

Volunteers are placed by themselves and each gets their own hut and their own pit toilet in a host family’s compound which is usually some distance from any neighbor. Together a number of these compounds make up a village.

Will had tricked out…

Will had tricked out his hut fancy-dancy and greatly impressed Mindy.

He built a loft for his bed. The plastic sheeting is to keep the rubble from the roof from messing up his bed. You can’t use too much of the plastic sheeting though as the rats just love to live between the sheeting and the roof…

The Cruiser – part…

The Cruiser – part of a fleet of Toyota Land Cruisers, with one at each Provincial House and a few in Lusaka. An essential part of Peace Corps service in Zambia is knowing where the Cruisers are and where they will be going next.

The Cruisers are dispatched for Peace Corps business so managing a ride with a Cruiser going your way instead of having to hitch hike or ride some packed bus is a great coup for a volunteer. This Site Visit was Peace Corps business and I was the one managing the ride!

One of the family…

One of the family members. Some of the buildings are round and some are rectangular. From what I can tell both shapes are used for all purposes.

Another common scene….

Another common scene.

It’s burning season. Did I mention this in the section on Livingstone? I forget. It was burning season there too, where they burn the harvested fields, and that means Smoke. Between the dust and the smoke my allergies have been making themselves known but so far Claritin is working its magic.

These guys were all…

These guys were all volunteers in their sixth month of service staying at the house last night and off early in the morning. They stayed here to break their journey traveling down from the far north and heading into Lusaka for two weeks of training on the next phase of their service.

from the front, left to right:
Jess, Andrew
Shannon, Dre
Joe, Aniela, Musi Lisa
Richard

In the Peace Corps…

In the Peace Corps compound there’s the big house with kitchen, living/dining room, tv room, two bathrooms, and four bedrooms with enough beds to sleep maybe 20 people, and more if you put two people in the double beds.

There are also many other separate buildings – a guard house, an administration office, an office for the volunteers, Mindy’s house, and what they call The Bar where volunteers can party on when people are sleeping in the big house.

Meet David and Francis. David is the PPC (Provincial Program Coordinator) and Francis is the PGSA (Provincial General Service Assistant), local Peace Corps employees for Central Province.

A trip to town…

A trip to town starts out with a ride in The Cruiser to return cases of empty soda bottles and get new ones. We put the new cases to go back with The Cruiser and we continued to do more shopping.

This is how they do it here.

When you look for…

When you look for information about Serenje there is one entry in one guidebook. There’s really not any reason to stop here it says unless you need gas. But if you have to stop here there’s really only one place to eat: Mapontela.

The everybody-knows-him Steve, a…

The everybody-knows-him Steve, a Peace Corps volunteer from the ’90s who never went home, owned and operated Mapontela for a while. He married a local woman and he has passed the guest house and restaurant to the family to run.

He basically sits out on the patio of the restaurant (the only place to sit out away from the dust along the whole stretch of Serenje) and drinks beer. We had fun chatting.

I got the beef stew and nshima. The beef stew was boiled beef with some gravy and rather unmemorable and the nshima was ok but the rape was SO delicious. When we got back to Serenje three days later I went back just to visit and get another order of the rape.

Nshima is the food that ALL Zambians have with EVERY meal and often IS the meal. It is a very thick, stiff mush made from corn meal and comes with 1-2-3 side dishes. This side dish is rape, a vegetable similar I think to collard greens.

You are supposed to eat the nshima with your hands. You pick it up with your fingers, roll it into your palm to make a ball, indent the ball, and scoop the relish into the ball. You know me, I always do everything the way you are supposed to but not this time. I am dirty to the deepest depths of every pour and just can’t go hand to mouth with this one.

Mindy needed to get…

Mindy needed to get her dreds locked. You might think having dredlocks is easy, just let it grow, but as it turns out, no, you have to take care of those things.

These guys had no idea what to do and Mindy was mighty disappointed and vowed henceforth to get them done only in Lusaka.

The night before we’re…

The night before we’re due to leave early in the morning for a site visit (site visit=no electricity, no running water, etc.) the power goes out. No prob. Good practice.

We left early in…

August 9-10 Erin’s Village, Muchinka, in The Bush

We left early in The Cruiser for the trip out into the bush. It’s not too far, less than two hours, and when we arrived we relaxed in the insaka where cooking, eating, and socializing occur.

That’s Erin’s hut straight ahead, her storage building to the right, and her pit toilet on the left. Her host family’s compound is behind us and within sight.

After our rest and…

After our rest and a snack we headed out along the trail to see Erin’s projects. The trail leads through some very pretty countryside and also an area of marsh that is goopy wet in the rainy season.

Erin host family has a 10 year old nephew living with them that Erin has taken to her heart. He was with us the whole time.

The local school. …

The local school. These schools are very very poor. Poor in resources with a few ancient books, no teaching materials at all, some rough wood benches, so poor inside I felt uncomfortable to take a picture (which I don’t really understand), and poor because none of the teachers want to be here. Zambians go into teaching to get out of places like this with no electricity, no running water, no money, an uneducated population.

It is here that Erin was getting a building for a resource center/library built, although she is leaving in two weeks and it isn’t ‘quite’ done. We are all crossing our fingers that she’ll still be around for an opening ceremony.

Getting a Peace Corps project done-done is a major accomplishment and requires constant vigilance and sometimes no matter how much attention you give something it still is not going to get done because the Peace Corps requires a large percentage of any project be contributed by the local community which can be slow in coming.

A ten minute walk…

A ten minute walk from the school is the clinic which is the only health care facility for miles around.

There are four rooms in this clinic. One for paperwork, one for storage, one exam and treatment room for adults, and one for babies. You wouldn’t let them take your temperature in those rooms.

Just one example of…

Just one example of Foreign Aid gone wrong – Japan sent over this high-tech refrigeration container for HIV drugs and it got sent to a place without electricity turning it into a massively expensive storage surface.

Back to Erin’s ‘we’…

Back to Erin’s ‘we’ meaning they start the preparations for dinner that will be cooked on a small charcoal brazier.

You can see the two blue tubs on the dish drying rack on the right, and you can see the white bucket on the porch. Keep these two things in mind as you will learn more about life in the villages.

I had a wonderful…

I had a wonderful walk with the dog. It was so much fun. We just went off and he led the way out most of the time and led the way back all of the time. The bush is criss-crossed with walking paths that lead from one compound to another.

On the way back…

On the way back we found some neighbor kids over with the host family, buying some dried fish. Two kids in front live there and the others are the neighbors.

We ate in the…

We ate in the insaka and then I slept in a tent by the bathing enclosure and Mindy shared with Erin in the house.

This is the family’s…

This is the family’s garden.

One of the uncles works on the garden for a couple of hours each morning and carries water from the irrigation trench just between the garden and the open field.

The irrigation trench widens…

The irrigation trench widens at one point and this is where Erin gets her water. Yes, she scoops up water out of that pond into the white bucket and carries it back to her hut.

She washes dishes, clothes, food, herself, in the water straight out of the bucket. For drinking she boils the water and then runs it through a ceramic filter.

Washing dishes is a Process. First you give the dishes to the dogs and the cat to clean up the big pieces. Then you put a little water in the two blue containers, one for the wash (and the water gets dirTY), and one for the rinse. Then you put the dishes on the rack, and then you put them away.

The Kundalila Falls, a…

The Kundalila Falls, a National Monument.

This is the top of the falls and you can see that pool gathering waaay down there at the bottom. That’s where we’re going.

Erin and Kaunda. …

Erin and Kaunda. Erin is finishing her two year commitment in two weeks and taking a third year project in another province.

She wanted to take Kaunda with her and start adoption proceedings which Kaunda’s mother, who lives in another province and hasn’t seen him in more than two years agrees to, but that is going to have to wait for a number of reasons not least that Kaunda is having second thoughts about leaving his village.

…she jumped in! …

…she jumped in! and then she got Kaunda, who doesn’t swim, to jump in with her!

How is it that I have these pictures? Because I punked out at the steep slippery part and didn’t complete the journey. I’m sure it was for the best!

On the way back…

On the way back we stopped here for a quick pic and my phone, which I’ve been using for entertainment (sudoku and flag games mostly) and to tell the time, slipped out onto the ground and some random guy picked it up and gave it back. He didn’t have to pick it up and he didn’t have to give it back. Lucky me!

We stopped because this is the raw material for nshima, the corn flour. A family of six would go through about one of these bags a month.

To the right of…

To the right of the sitting area above we find this great table with the Peace Corps emblem that Mindy made. Very cool Mindy!

We left Sarenje at…

August 11-13 Solwezi

We left Sarenje at 6AM by middle-sized bus heading for Kapiri where a Peace Corps Cruiser was supposed to pick us up but due to a very last minute ‘schedule change’ we were going to have to hitchhike the many many more hours to our destination in the Copper Belt.

This is a middle-sized bus, bigger than the mini-buses that run through the towns, but smaller than a long-distance bus.

They pack these guys to the roof with people and their belongings. Packed such that you get shoveled into your space and you just stay like that waiting for it to be over.

At Kapiri, which is…

At Kapiri, which is a gas station, a place to buy greasy road food, and a plant of some sort, we began our hitch.

We walked down the road until we were separate from all the local hitchhikers. Public transportation is non-existent on some routes, like where we were going for example, and so few people own private cars that hitchhiking is universal.

It is a fact of hitchhiking that people in nice cars don’t tend to pick up local people. We got picked up so fast on every leg of our journey and two out of the three times in great vehicles. I propose it was because they didn’t want to leave an old lady by the side of the road. And I waved, and smiled, and made eye contact.

El-Lec-TRICTY! YAY!!…

El-Lec-TRICTY! YAY!!

The Copper Belt is the most developed of the provinces in Zambia, and the most prosperous due to all the mines so it is not surprising to find power.

This was our first…

This was our first ride, a South African welder who works in the mines alongside his father and brother-in-law. He had one of those trucks with a back seat and Air-Con and we were ridin’ in style.

It was true in Botswana also, that if you ran into a white person that person probably had a South African connection, or Zimbabwean, Zimbabwe has a big white ex-pat community.

We were very soon…

We were very soon picked up by a woman from Zimbabwe who re-located to Zambia and runs a farm with her husband. I had the seat and the kids rode in the back with the grain.

She went many kilometers out of her way to drop us at a good place to get our next ride, which turned out to be the last we needed since the driver was going all the way into Solwezi. He was an Indian guy from Tanzania, had a wonderful vehicle and he drove fast. We were in hitchhiking heaven!

He had to drop…

He had to drop us a block from our destination, the Shop-Rite**, because of this parade about to begin. There’s going to be an election here in a month and we’ve been running into a lot of electioneering, mostly flatbed trucks with huge speakers blaring music and full of people chanting in the back.

**Wow, A Shop-Rite! At the Shop-Rite you can get anything even little $4 cans of tuna and $8 packages of grapes. It’s like the Nirvana of shopping at the Shop-Rite when you’ve come from the town that runs out of beer and if the chicken guy has to go to a funeral you can’t buy any chicken.

One thing I was…

One thing I was not expecting was power problems in Solwezi. On-Off-On-Off, it was very disconcerting. Yesterday they did a pre-arranged shut-down for the whole day to try to fix the problem for good.

I was in town and took this picture. Just as I got the shot off a guy came up behind me and grabbed the camera(!) by throwing his hand over the lens. What?! “It is forbidden. FORBIDDEN!” he said a few times. OK OK, I won’t take a picture.

Now as I type this it is almost dinner time on the 14th. My clothes that I washed in a bucket this morning are on the line and relatively clean, I took a fantastic hot shower HOT! shower and am relatively clean, I’ve caught-up on my pictures, I’ve got reservations and everything set for my last week in Cape Town. So let’s go see what the Copper Belt is all about!

On the 14th we…

August 14-15

On the 14th we were out of power from around 6:30PM until 11AM on the 15th and on the evening of the 15th it went out again but this time came back by 9:30PM which is why I can write this.

The week-long workshop on…

The week-long workshop on Appropriate Technologies has started at the Peace Corps house. I’m taking pictures but since there is going to be five days I’ll make one story at the end, so as not to get too many duplicates…is the plan anyway.

I went into town with Mindy in The Cruiser to get some supplies for the seminar. Solwezi is a regular metropolis compared to Serenje and you can tell by the dust and the smoke, no stars for me at night.

Add to this dust and smoke 16 people smoking cigarettes (it’s like an AA meeting around the house with all the coffee and cigarettes, except for the beer, what with all that beer…in that way it’s not like an AA meeting) and the air has changed properties from a gas to a solid.

We passed the bus…

We passed the bus station and this worked out great because in this one picture you can see the mini-buses, the middle-sized bus (that is what everyone calls it) and a long distance bus too.

They can fit 18 people plus driver in those mini-buses, not counting laps.

I asked this guy…

I asked this guy if I could take a picture of his shop, he had such great signs. There are rows of shops like this, one or two man operations doing very specialized work.

While we were out…

While we were out with The Cruiser it was a two minute detour to drop me off at the Royal Solwezi Hotel, the fanciest hotel in town.

I hung around as I like to do but I will say that the fanciest hotel in Solwezi didn’t have any newspapers or magazines and both of the computers they have for guests are broken and the food was not even very good.

But they had a nice outside patio with comfy chairs, International CNN playing on the TV, and service from the bar/restaurant so thumbs up.

The Appropriate Technology workshop…

August 16

The Appropriate Technology workshop for the North-West Province, Zambia. Peace Corps is doing these conferences and setting up Appropriate Technology centers at all the six provincial houses. Appropriate Technology even has its own wiki entry.

Designed in collaboration between the Peace Corps and MIT, this program is meant to introduce to the villages in Zambia useful technologies appropriate to village life, meaning whatever you propose it has to be cheap, it can be fabricated from local materials, it has to work without electricity, and the villagers have to see a benefit in changing from their current methods.

Peace Corps brings in…

Peace Corps brings in 8-9 of their volunteers from a province who have expressed interest in participating, and they bring the volunteer’s counterpart.

The counterpart is the person, usually chosen by the village committee when it applies for a volunteer to come, to be the point-person between the village and the volunteer. Usually this person is a teacher and the best English speaker in the village. But that doesn’t mean the counterpart can speak English in any meaningful way.

(I just learned that in this case the volunteer chose a counterpart who they think will be the best person for this workshop.)

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