I got to visit my site for a week two weeks ago and its awesome! The best part about eastern province is there are sunflowers EVERYWHERE! I love sunflowers so i was pretty happy. I spent the week running around like a crazy person trying to meet as many people as possible and tell them a little about what i'll be doing there the next two years, which besides working at the schools, really depends on whatever my community wants me to help them with. Whether that means starting womens groups, working on hiv/aids education, IGAs, grant writing, adult literacy...half of the job will be figuring out what my community needs and trying to help them make that happen. From the look of it, i'll be pretty busy.
My village is called kanyelele. (i know i said it was chingazi but thats actually just the name of my school).
When i first arrived, the entire village (thats not an exaggeration) was crowded into my front yard anxiously waiting to greet me. They started singing songs in nyanja with my name in them and dancing around me until it started raining and we all crowded into my insaka (gazebo). It was unlike any welcome i've ever experienced. I didnt feel like i deserved to be the center of so much attention but it really made me feel wanted and at home. They were all just so excited to have me there.
My host family in the village is the headman's family (every village has a headman who's supposed to oversee village happenings, resolve conflicts, etc.). Hes a funny guy - pretty sure he idolizes jay-z because he walks around with a big puffy black parka in 90 degree weather blasting zampop on his cell phone. His family is awesome though. He has 5 really adorable children with another one on the way (at least i think theres another one on the way...its impolite in zambian culture to ask a woman if shes pregnant, so i'm not positive, but i'm pretty sure his wife is about to pop). Anyway, theyre great and theyre last name in nyanja is njobvu, which means elephant, so by association, i am now Ms. Elephant.
On one of my visits to a neighboring village, the headman decided to give me a (live) chicken as a housewarming gift. I obviously didnt know what to do with it and planned on setting it free later once it got dark, but our schedule for the day involved cycling to a ridiculous amount of other villages so the teacher who was showing me around suggested i put it in my hut until we got back. Not knowing what else to do he helped me to tie the feet together and put him in a corner of my living room. Eight hours later after biking all over the zambian bush, i came home to a very angry chicken who had broken free from his restraints and shit all over my house out of spite. Having no idea how to round up a chicken, i made a futile effort to chase him out until a little boy took pity on me and retired the squaking chicken to my seperate cooking shelter. There is nothing more humbling than coming to zambia and realizing small children are stronger and smarter than you and basically more capable in every way. I later managed to get even with the chicken by having my amai cook him for dinner. I feel only a little remorse. Village chicken is really good.
I also had a visit from the chief while i was at site. Another volunteer, alex, my closest peace corps neighbor, lives right by the chief of our district. After meeting alex and finding out there were two new volunteers in his chiefdom, the chief decided they'd hop in his car and drive to my site together. So as i'm standing in my front yard washing my extremely dirty bike, who pulls up but the chief in his mercedes with alex and introduces himself by asking me if i've had a chance yet to read a copy of his 5 year development plan. It was a trip.
All in all, the site visit was great. My hut is lovely. Well really, i have two! One is my main house with a living room and bedroom and the other one i'm planning on using for cooking and storing food.
Now i'm back in chongwe til tuesday when we move to a hostel in lusaka for a few nights til swear in. Then friday we all go off to our provinces! Can't wait.
Here are some pictures from our trip to the Zambian zoo. Unfortunately, there aren't really animals roaming all over Africa as I had so romantically pictured - most of them are restricted to game parks. The place we went to - Munda Wanga, which means our field - was just a small zoo with really inadequate chain link fences, which despite adding a little excitement, was slightly terrifying. But i'll definitely be going to the game parks while I'm here and petting some lions.
I still can't download pictures on facebook, so the few I have on my phone will have to do for now...
|He was having a good hair day.|