Monday, January 16, 2012


What's the Story (Morning Glory)

I woke up thinking about my blog, or lack there of, today. This was followed by an email and a text message about my blog today.

Kind of weird. If that is not a sign to write something than I don't know what is. I have been back in Zambia for a little over a week. The travel up to Solwezi from the capital in Lusaka is almost as as long as all of the planes that you have to take to get here. As soon as I returned I hit the ground running. Today, I took the day off and slept all day. It felt really nice. Why is your job so busy? What do you do? You are asking yourself. Well I do a little bit of everything and days of the week don't matter. I can't really take the day off, I still have to answer emails, text, and phone calls but by taking the day off i do a little less physical labor, traveling, and or shopping for others. It is a fun job though, and every day is different.

I have recently submitted my grad school applications, I think that this has been weighing on me so much that it is the cause of my sleep induced comma of today. more to come I am going to write again tomorrow. This is for you AMJ.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Our House


Ms Elizabeth Otter
po box 110264
solwezi Zambia

Hobo chic . . . I learned sadly while in cape town is not the same as Peace Corps Volunteer two years in. I kept saying to Bobby, "It's ok, just think of it as Hippster." But i guess i look even worse than the worst hippster's. But what i do have in my favor is that I am not trying to hard. I can't try, I only have what I have at list point!

Saturday, March 5, 2011


(Turn and face the strain)
Don't want to be a richer man
(Turn and face the strain)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time

Well I just learned something new, I always thought that the last lryic of this song was "But I can't change time" not "trace" time. wow my mind is blown. Funny Fact a common phrase, and by common I mean used all the time, here in Zambia, it "be free" kind of like be comfortable and do whatever moves you, what is mine is yours, etc. which is the subtitle on this blog, which was established over two years before i ever came to Zambia! i love when life gives you clues on your future.

Greetings! The count down has begun, I have just a little over two weeks left in my village before I get pulled, meaning that I pack up and move out in the same way in which i moved in, my PCVL (a different one since they are only contracted for a year) will be there and the PC cruiser, i will have everything ready, feel terrified, and then load up say my goodbye's but in the opposite way, and roll out! So many different feelings are running through my body: excitement, sadness, relief, guilt that i am leaving early (about 4 1/2 months), planning mode, etc.

The excitement comes from the fact that I soon will be living in a house with a tin roof, meaning there are few to no leaks! on me, my things, my yoga mat! I will have internet, running water (both cold and hot on good days), and electricity! I will also be seeing my mom, sister Julie, and roommate from college/best friend, Maggie in 2 and a half weeks! I am so excited. I have missed them all so much and have had such limited contact to them. It has been almost 9 months since i have seen my mom and sister, and 20 months since i have see maggie!

I wouldn't let myself get excited about this up coming trip however until after seeing my brother in Feb. It was such a great trip and to me a really great way to re-meet my brother. We have grown and changed a bit in the past year and a half, well i know that i have, and i feel i have finally graduated from the always to be protected little sister, just a sister who hopefully is a peer/friend, like the relationship he and my older sister had growing up. Which i have always envied in a way. It could not have come at a better time for me since there was a lot going on at home as well as here in Zambia that threw me for a slight loop. Family is always family and even through i have an amazing PC family, sometimes you need the real thing. We met up at victoria Falls, which was beautiful, a great time of year to see it! We stayed in both a back packers lodge and a fancy safri lodge, both were great. We were able to go on a day trip to Chobe Park in Botswana and see so many animals especially elephants, my spirit animal. Bobby got to witness first had the non-logical side of Africa through Boarders. Also public beating, when our driver got out of the car and started beating up a drunk that was harassing us. We also went to cape town, which i loved! What a beautiful city! We got to go to Robben Island, the District 6 museum,walked all over (the V & A Waterfront, Gardens, Long street, Financial district, more). We went hiking and saw some beautiful sites. Ate great food, i got to drink different beers! and really have only had two available to me here in Zambia Castle and Mosi, so this was exciting. But I think a highlight for both of us was going to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. So beautiful. awesome. you must go if you have the chance to this place. It was wonderful. Oddly enough a very common theme through out the trip was people asking us if we were a couple, so by the end i found myself talking loudly about being brother and sister in public. There were a lot of cute boys around, and i didn't want them to have the wrong idea. A great trip and break by all. It makes me excited to come home in sept and see him and hang out again soon.

So in closing, Solwazi, in Northwestern Province here I come! Some big changes are coming up and I am (hopefully) ready!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Umm, This song, I don't have words for it, but it is making me happy my hair is chin length, because when it comes on at da club,like on new years eve, i take it pretty seriously. I whip. My. Hair! However, my little loves, Jr, and Isaac prefer dancing to the song We R Who We R by Ke$ha. Gotta love pop music!

I am doing well, I'm a bit home sick now though, I am at a really transitional stag right now, and because i will see my brother Bobby in a months time and my mom and sister, and my roommate from college in two months! Its all so soon and i am letting myself get excited. Also I am letting myself miss my Bobfather! Since he is not coming on these trips, not seeing my da for 14 months is a long time! I said it is a transitional time because I will be moving out of my village, my home, in April. I applied for a position within Peace Corps Zambia to be a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader, this means that i will be in charge of all the PCV's in a provence, for example Im one of 25 PCVs in central Provence. I will be the person who gives support to the PCV's who are having a tough time, are sick, have housing issues, but also the middle person between the Lusaka Administration and volunteers. I am really excited about the job, but feel bettersweet, about leaving my family! I don't know which Provence I will be going to yet either, and i just found out that i won't know about my placement as a PCVL until V-tines day, i will be going to either Eastern or Northwestern and living in the provencial capital in the PC/Z house with water and electricity, my own bed room and bathroom! I will be talking to my boss, the country director of peace corps, this week to make my demands as are made with all jobs, I want to be able to come home for a month in September.

Isaac will be starting grade one tomorrow, monday! My family got a black kitten, that Jr. calls Ba Otis or Baby Ba Otis, which left me to believe when i got back to my hut after Christmas that Otis was dead and they bought me a replacement kitten! But, worry not! Otis is alive and well and HATES the new kitten, but its a girl and i think that he will come around to her. I named her Sasha, my childhood nick name. I think they got the kitten because Isaac will be starting school. he is almost 9 and just starting school because he was meant to watch Jr until he was big enough to be left alone, and now he is and will be alone all day everyday now. But he loves cats, well Otis at least, but Otis hides from him, and now he has something to keep him busy and outta trouble. The whole family is doing well, Presca is getting bigger and bigger, my Bamaayo says that Presca now has a "Tractor and a Trailer" where she learns these English words/expressions I don't know but they are funny!!

I will be in Lusaka for next 10 days, teaching a behavior change concepts to the two new programs who are having their In-Service Training, then i will have three weeks up in my village before bobby comes to visit. I cannot believe it will be over a year and a half since i have seen bobby! I am happy about having this long period of time finally just to live in my village again before i move. Until next time!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The pictures below are of: The swimming hole that my family made for me since they know that i really like to swim and it gets so hot here. They mad it in a danbow, a marsh, that has running water going through it if you dig down only like a foot. Next, is me and a cameleon! When i found it, it was bright green, see how much it changed when it was next to me for a while!!! Then Jr. sweeping my yard for me, he asks for "piece work" in exchange for sweeties. Isaac and Jr. cannot touch their tounges to their nose, like myself and my siblings can, actually i haven't found a zambian that can do it yet! But they think it is the best thing ever when i do it! Lastly, Spices from the Spice Souk in Dubai. It was so cool.

Monday, December 20, 2010

If you are tired, but you can't sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep

. . . And you will fall asleep, counting your blesssss-ings! Wow, is there a better movie out there than "White Christmas"?! I just got it sent to me in the mail from my mother and I can't get the songs outta my head! I think I like it so much because it isn't all about Christmas music, which I am pretty indifferent about, unless it is Sufjan Steven's Christmas music. Let me start off by saying happy holidays to all! I hope your "days are merry and bright".

I know that it has been forever since I have written. There is just always so much to do and I cant help bit feeling that writing is such a big commitment. But I think that it more has to do with the fact that the longer I am here the harder I feel it is to put words to what I am feeling and experiencing here, not to mention that constant struggle to have a good internet connection. I just got a bunch of new music from a volunteer that went to the states on vacation, it is so nice to feel like I now know somewhat what is going on in the world of music. Something that I miss.

Since i have written last, I have had the amazing opportunity to go to Dubai to visit my Aunt Mary Jane and Uncle Mike who are living there! I was such an 180 degree change from everything and anything that is Zambia/n! But a great break and so fun to be around family. I am a lucky kid. All is going well in the village and all my family members are doing well! I am starting to get withdrawal when i have to leave them for long periods of time. I have just become so attached to my little Junior! My Bamaayo and Batata keep trying to get me to adopt him, or my sister Julie! and i must say if my circumstances were different i would totally conceder it! So I am starting to conduct a list of things that still shock or surprise me, after a year and a half, I'll be adding to it as i think of things so expect this list to change and grow. Until then, I will leave you with this!

• Babies wearing hats, shirts, pants, underwear, socks, anything really decked out in Rasta colors and marijuana leaves. Never gets any less weird/funny.
• Seeing breast everywhere, and at any time, let me just say I am so pro bra at this point in my life. So pro bra, and thankful for the support.
• The fact that any white person, anywhere, will always wave at me. Do I know you? No? Okay, didn’t think so.
* The amount of salt that is used by just about every person in this country, sadly myself included. I was eating with some Zambian friends yesterday, and they would put a shake of salt on ever bite of chicken that they ate, I haven't gotten that bad, yet.
* How nice and friendly everyone is here, if you don't say "Hi" to everyone you pass, its an insult. I am scared to get back to the States with this habit!

Friday, October 15, 2010

ABC- You went to school to learn gurl, what you never never knew before . . .

I have been babysitting our Provincial house/office this week while our PCVL (Peace Corps Volunteer Leader (Third year extension position of volunteer support, managing of, and site preparation)) is on home leave. This has been such a blessing since i am taking the GRE next weekend and have had this time to study! Also I have had more access to internet, and have had some fun conversations with people through email and what not, i thought i would post some of the questions that people have asked me and the answers, to cover some of the things that i don't tend to think about. Also I will include a packing last I made for a person who came during the previous cold season. THe only additions needed for the hot season are less layers and nov-march, rain gear. enjoy!

I have a Tailor. "YOU HAVE A TAILOR?!?! Whaattt?" Why is it that everyone responds that way to the fact that I have a tailor!? You have to think of Zambia or should I say, where I live in Zambia as an 1880's Wild Wild West-ern town, you can't buy premade clothes only fabric and then make something yourself or pay someone to make it for you! I choose the ladder. I love gettting clothes made!

in the past 6 months here, all these white south africans, Aussies, Chinese, Japanese, etc people have been flooding my area to mine and already its changing and people are being pushed out its sad, and there are no laws for protection or environment.

the fact that the country is progressing everyday and fighting to adapt to the westernized world while still using oxen and hand plowing fields, is just a trip, and for me its like being a part of something that will never be able to be recreated again, and I love and appreciate that.

no water, no electricity, but ionically i live about 300 meters from the governments power lines that run from the bottom of the country to the top. Actually my water source is under them, and I can hear the cancerous crackle of power while scooping up H2O. Ooh africa.

Also its important to remember that in the village people will wear the same thing 3-5days straight, to bed, to work, everywhere! So sometime guilt sets in, for me, when I don’t wear things excessively? Doesn’t make tons of sense but, you’ll get it soon enough, so what I am saying is you don’t have to pack a ton, which is so much easier to say than do! Okay here we go:
• A good pair of running/tennis shoes.

You may not wear there that often, but the times that you will need them they come in great use! Unless you are a runner, than you will wear them often, but they are great for biking again.

• A pair of nice “Lusaka” shoes

You won’t wear these often, they truly are for Lusaka (Maybe I should just have a Lusaka section, but meh, I’ll just do it this way with font change)! Mine I think I have worn only a few times but they are great when you do. However, there is a store called Mr. Price here, and they are kind of like a Forever 21 meets H&M, not the best quality but cute clothes and they have great shoes there!

• Sturdy sandals/Flip Flops

I brought with me a nice pair of Teva flip flop sandals, they broke, and now only wear Eagles, which are Zam made, plastic flip-flops, think Old Navy flip-flops. Once broken in, they are very comfortable and CHEAP like 4 Pin, so less than a dollar (80 cents). This I feel is what everyone wears here, yes some people have the Chaco’s and other hard core sandals, and they do come in great use, however I don’t have them and I have never had a problem.

You will be coming here during the winter, and it gets REALLY cold in the early morning and in the evening/at night. However, it can get pretty warm during the day, even hot sometimes, so layering is going to be your best friend.

• A thin hat, I sleep in mine at night, while wearing a hoody, pants, sock, and two blankets, there is no installation (that's mud bricks for you) and it’s windy.
• Socks of different lengths, some for warmth, others for shoes, how many you bring is up to you, however socks are easy to wash.
• Sports bras! These will be your best friend in the village, obviously bring a few regular bras for when you are not in the village.
• Comfortable underwear. Really no need for thongs.
• Tank tops, especially tank tops with built in bra’s they are easy, and even easier to layer with. I have liked to have the Hanes wife beater’s and I don’t care if they get dirty. But when it comes down to it dark colored things are the best for the village, so pack the most of dark colors. White is impossible to keep white here, consequently I now have about 8 gray Hanes’s tank tops, oh well.
• T-shirts, just your regular everyday shirt, my favorites have been Gap favorite Tee esc. Crew neck, long. And I think I said this in my first email to you, but solid colored things work well for the village and if you ever get and thing made, because ichitange’s have crazy patterns.
• Long sleeve shirts!
• Sweat Shirts and sweaters one of each maybe?
• And one fleece or jacket, doesn’t have to be to thick because you will, most likely, be wearing a tank top, long sleeve shirt, sweater, and your fleece at once, and then stripping as the day goes on.
• Pants! Two pairs of sturdy pants that you can work in should do it. I have four, but they are suppose to last me for the next two years, and if you have a few long dresses you wont need much more. I had this rule while packing, and it worked out well, that unless you can sit Indian style comfortably in pants, you shouldn’t bring them. You just want clothes that you can really move in. I wear yoga pants of full and Capri length here. Also bring some leggings they are great under skirts, or just for hanging out, or when its cold.
• I am a jean junkie. I love jeans and it was so hard for me packing because I wanted to bring them all. Alas I settled on this, it was hard, but it has worked; a pair that I wear at the house and in the boma, and then a nice pair that I bring to Lusaka with me and wear there, because I would care more if they got messed up.
• A few going out shirts, dresses, skirts, or outfits. Won’t happen often but when you do go out you will want to look cute, and kind of go all out after not being able to dress up or anything a while.

DAPP – I don’t know if you like to Thrift, but if you do DAPP is your heaven. Its awesome, they import donated clothes from Europe. You can find some gems! Its worth the hunt. Just a heads up, so you can find anything you want.

• Two toothbrushes
• Toothpaste, your favorite kind, but get one with extra fluoride, we get water from holes, so there is no added fluoride to our water, I can feel my teeth falling apart already (However, on 4/10/10 I went to the dentist . . . NO CAVITIES! Go me!). They sell regular toothpaste here but its not as good, flavor wise too.
* Floss
• Sun Screen.
• A GOOD face sunscreen, the new wrinkles that have formed on my face, sad. So sad. I am aging, the new lines. I cannot even talk about
• Face moisturizer. For the same reason as stated. Also it gets really dry here. . . Soo . . .
• Bring a good lotion or body butter!
• Shampoo and conditioner, you can buy ok stuff here, but its more expensive and, you get such great flash backs whenever you take a sniff of “America”.
• Face wash and whatever else you use in your daily routine
• A razor and extra razor blades, unless you want to go all natural, which I would have to say good for you, I can’t do that.
• Hair ties! Lots! Bobby pins. Head bands, hair can get annoying here.
• Small travel sized bottles, great for when you are at the house, but also when you go on little excursions or camping trips.
• Nail clippers and nail file. I have about four different color nail polishes but more are always welcome! But don’t forget your nail polish remover!
• Wet Wipes! Cottenel Flushable wipes. They are just nice and easy, yes they are wasteful but after a long day of transport of what have you, they can make you feel so much cleaner.
• I have a special toiletries bag that is always packed (Thank you Nancy!), it has wet wipes, lotion, toothpaste, anti-bacterial no water hand wash, my mini bottles of shampoo and conditioner, a plastic poncho. Its just nice to have a little bag that I can just grab when ever I go somewhere with out having to think about it. I also have another one with all my wires, chargers, and my camera.
• Sheets, up to you. I brought sheets from home, personally I love them, they make me happy they don’t come off just by sitting on the bed (fitted sheets are impossible to find), and they are soft.

Now you dear reader are all ready to come and visit me!

Prayers, well wishes, and positive energy sent my way on Sat. 23 of OCT. (Gmt +2) 8:30am would be soo soo very appreciated! As that is when I am taking the dreaded GRE.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

You say goodbye I say hello

So today is my second birthday in Zambia. I have one more to go, I think. See the kids that got into country a year before I did are all leaving today, and by all I mean 9. Out of the 18 left in this intake, half are staying an extra year doing work in different applied areas all over Zambia. Your 3rd year you get a tiny bit more money, modern day amenities, and a more structured job usually with a NGO or government organization. Its funny, the more time that I spend here the less I reach out to the newer kids. People leaving you takes a toll on your well being, its keeps you constantly having to adjust to life here, and frankly life here is hard enough without that. Kind of makes me feel bad though for these new new kids that are swearing in next Friday; finally becoming volunteers, trainees no longer. I found out that two friends that are not COS-ing (Close Of Service (your finished! They did it!)) have left or are leaving this week. Really it’s such a trippy feeling, but people always say that it is harder to be left behind. Maybe it really is.

I have waged war and a personal vendetta against ants, and in the past few weeks I have been poisoning them out of house, home, and hut. I have a cemented floor, which is great, but these little monsters have been eating through that cement and marching all around my house eating everything in sight, smell, or sense. Really I don’t know how they find things and I have been eating drinking and dreaming ants because of this. I wish I was just trying to paint a image in your heads but seriously. I have. I have an empty cup, I pick it up get some drinking water, then moments later I am wondering what that weird feeling in my mouth is, only to be pulling out many, many ants from the sides of my mouth and tongue. I just tell myself its protein, but that doesn’t seem to help me very much its still gross. I set a plate of food down for a moment and I am no longer just fighting my cat from it but the ants too. And let me tell you there is nothing more devastating then putting away some Annie’s Mac and Cheese to the side to finish later; with the lid on the pot and the pot height up on your tallest of two tables, to only find it so infested with ants that you can not possible even eat around them. So finally I bought the poison and moved around all my things and furniture; swept up around the massive amounts of dirt dust and sand that they brought above ground with them and didn’t even dilute the poison as instructed. Just poured it straight down. Man oh man was that a gratifying feeling. Like the winner of a long hard race where you were racing cheaters that were trying to sabotage you! Victorious! We shall see how long this last this time. I just want the feeling of ants always crawling on me and all over me to stop. This is not the first time I have had this problem, and with the heat comes the return of all kinds of bugs. Shall be getting interesting in the bush!

My site visits and being a trainer and programs are almost finished now! I have one more the first week of October that is called, Mid-term Medical Conference. I think the name says it all, and I am now over half way through my service and we are having a conference about it, and while we are there we are going to be poked and prodded to make sure we are still in top health and are teeth are still in our head! I am excited about this, it is like a reunion of my intake, we haven’t all been together since January. I cannot wait to see how people have grown, changed, and what their service has developed into by now, I know that mine has changed and taken turns that I wasn’t expecting! All in all though I must say, “things are just ok this side”. That is Zam-lish for everything thing is great over here! Thank you for all the birthday cards, emails, facebookings, and calls this year. It was a really great birthday. I think 24 will be the year that I have been waiting for in many different ways. Look forward to hear from you all. Mwenda Bwino!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Circle of Life

So I am a Tec trainer this week at PST (Pre-Service Training). It is really funny to be back where I started out, but on the other end of things a year later. It’s so nice not to have the stress of learning a language and being tested on it, and the stress of meeting friends is not there. I must say I am enjoying things on this end. Everyone I have met so far has been really outstanding; however I can’t help but want to get back to my village as fast as I can. See I was out the whole month of June, since my mom, dad, and sister, Julie, where here visiting Zambia. My mom, Kay, and I went on a week long trip to Namibia, which was so beautiful and overwhelming for me. It is much more developed than Zambia, and it forced me out of my safety bubble, which Zambia is. I have never felt threatened or in Danger since I have been here, and all or a sudden I am having to be aware of thieves and robbers again. Weird! But on the whole the first leg of the trip with my mom was amazing. Climbing sand dunes that were beautifully sculpted and tall, was a brand new experience and a site unlike anything I have ever seen. We went horse back riding, sand dune ATV-ing, and on a morning cruse boat that allowed us to see and pet seals and pelicans! Also see bottle nosed dolphins! Upon our return to Zambia we met up with the Bobfather and Julie to travel to my site, and stomping grounds in Central Province. After that very eye opening portion of the trip we went up north to Shiwa ngandu a 20th century Victorian manor house in the heart of the bush. It was beautiful and the owners were very hands on and knowledge able. As we left Shiwa, I parted with the fam and drove our rental car back down to Lusaka, it was my first time driving on this trip in a year, and it felt so good, even if it was on the other side of the road. The fam went to Tenna Tenna a safari camp, where if Julie hadn’t already fallen in love with Zambia, it was only heightened. I met up with them when they were done and the 4 of us went to Victoria Falls, which was, gorgeous! We even took a short helicopter ride over the falls to get a different angle. A first for all of us, and nothing that Kay would ever like to do again. This was the end of the trip for Julie and me, Julie going back to the States and me to site for a few days. Bob and Kay on the other hand went to Malawi, they liked it, but I am proud to say, their loyalties were with Zambia! I came back to Lusaka to say goodbye to them on their return. By this time it was July. I was able to do some work during this time, like build and get rabbits for a nutrition and Income Generating Community Activity I am doing, and pass out the surveys I have made for my behavior change workshop.

But now I am out of the village again for over a week, when just over a week ago I hosted a 5 day site visit, with volunteers right off the plane from the States! It was really fun and a great group, but man it was exhausting! I will be hosting the second site visit that they have at the end of the month as well. So needless to say it has been busy and full of responsibility. I am the only person in all of Peace Corps Zambia that is hosting both site visits on top of being a trainer of the week. I hope this means that the Head quarters staff in Lusaka likes me! On this note I must sign off to get some prep done for this afternoon’s sessions on HIV/AIDS in Zambia. I hope to flood my blog this week while I have internet connection, and get everyone as up to date on my life here as possible. Love to you all, and thanks for reading this, even if it is a bit bland!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Jesus, etc.

So I am standing on the street just before dusk, the sun is still sitting pretty; I am looking for a specific cab driver, the only cab driver that goes to where I am headed. I am trying to get into Kabalaka, a small village outside Chalinbana, in Chongwe district (I will get back to why in a bit). A man smelling of stale jilly-jilly sashes, a 4in x 2.5in plastic pouch holding 75ml or almost two ounces of 45% poor cane alcohol. These are given witty names to match their cost of 750 Kwatcha, or about 15 cents per “packet”, like “Double Punch!”, “Officers”, and one of my favorites “Rambo”.
My new friend, tries charming me first by telling me that I am a Mazungu (Ma /zoon/ gue), or a white person, he was really observant. He went on to quickly start revealing to me that I was responsible for killing Jesus Christ. Over and over he kept telling me this, until finally I kindly stated that this was impossible since I was born for the first time, to my knowledge, in 1986. This didn’t satisfy his needs, so then started explaining that all white people are responsible for killing Jesus. This is because there is evidence that the Roman’s were, in fact white, where as it is obvious that Jesus was dark skinned, therefore black. This was a totally new experience for me, never in my life had I experienced a person yelling at me, “You killed Jesus!” over and over while a group of on lookers just laughed. Yes, I had head more then a few times that “Jesus had died for me and my sins”, but never have I been heckled about being the one that killed him! So I guess I am trying to say, is white people bad news, there is another thing our ancestors have done that you have to feel guilty about. My Jewish loves: you are off the hook, at least in Africa, we, yes we, gotcho back!
I guess this blog is called “Jesus, etc.” for a few reasons: I love Wilco. I love this song. I had a recent Jesus story; and this is going to be a random entry that moves all over the place. It has also allowed me to once again think about that “Higher Being” “God” a few times over the past month.

Elishabe was the little girl that I wrote about a little over a year ago; I also posted a naked picture of this little cutie somewhere below! Last Friday morning (17 July) I found out that she died. She had fallen into the family’s water hole. This is not a well, its just a meter wide hole in the ground, about 2 meters deep that is being fed by a natural underground spring or brook. This is so sad for me; this was the baby that I had fallen in love with, whilst falling in love with Zambia, the first baby I had carried on my back with a chitange, the first baby that really peed on me, she helped me become excepted into my home stay family.
In other words. I have been here a year now, and I haven’t lost anyone that I was close to in Zambia, I have been lucky. But this experience has given me a different perspective on things and life. The Mulolo family, is a responsible, loving, and generous family, the fact that Shabe (shay ba) drowned is not the family’s fault it was a total fluke. I went down to visit the family after I heard, and I was never embraced so warmly. Yes, I did bring gifts with me, but the way in which we remembered little Shabe, and supported each other was wonderful and has enriched my experience here no matter how hard it was.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Together Again

The title of this post may just be my favorite song to do at Karaoke, just throwing that out there.

So the long awaited and sweet reunion between mother and child has accred. It was glorious. The longest span on time i have ever gone without seeing kay has now come to a close. But i really cannot believe how fast the 11 months have passed. It has been such an incredible year. the past few days have been fun catching up and sharing Lusaka with her, it's not the craziest city in the world but it has some charm and good places to eat. Today we are leaving for a week long trip to Namibia, where we will be traveling to the capital, Windhoek, then to the sand mountains, and to the ocean, ahh seeing the ocean will be good for my soul i believe. Don't worry i will be taking pictures and posting them as soon as i can!

The past few months have been really busy with workshops, activities, new comers, and of course work within my village. I have gone to a PEPFAR HIV/AIDS week long workshop which was really great, and it is always nice to see that the US governments money is going to good use! Then the Behaviour change work shop followed shortly after. It was incredible and more than i could even have wanted it to be! The bahaviour i have chosen is to prevent adolescent pregnancy within school aged girls, which is truly a problem in the village due to cultural norms, lack of anything better to do, and the lack of a voice that most young girls have. For example since the new school year started in January three 6th graders have been taken out of school because their parents have had them get married. Now to be fair, you can be anywhere from 10-16 in 6th grade, however, i don't think that changes the fact that the education level will not become any better, and that these girls are stripped from their childhoods in many ways. So through statistical surveying and analysis (thank you Dr. Schlichting! You have no idea how excited i was to get back to looking at data! so much so, that i wish i were joking) and dividing groups of girls into Doers and non-doers, i will, with my counterpart, Mrs. Bukole, be able to look at our target groups. We will also be starting girls empowerment clubs in 3 different schools. I am hoping to set up a slew of activities and presenters. so in other words i will be busy for a long time with this project, not to mention the other projects i have going on. My NHC, Neighborhood Heath Committee, wants to build an Women's Ward, attachment onto our clinic, when that happens, i have requested that we have a youth room or area, where kids can come in, ask questions, get contraceptives, and as we say in Zambia, "Be Free". When the NHC is done with their grant work, i may need some help from you all reading this with a few small donations, but i will get into that later.

I am enjoying life, and my visitor! The Bobfather and Julie will be getting into Lusaka a week from tomorrow and i am very very excited. It's nice that Bobby, my brother, didn't make it on this trip for the soul reason that i know i have another visitor coming sometime in the future! and on that note, before this gets too long, i am going to sign off, and will you all well!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

So a few things first, like the bigger news. I will be starting a new project soon which i am really excited about. it is a pilot project Peace Corps is doing on behavior change, they are testing it/starting with my intake, but only the Health volunteers that meet the criteria. While applying you must pick you topic of research, mine is gender! you know how i love equality and feminism! Well we will be having a workshop in May, my proposal was picked, and i will get to start making survay's and collecting data! I couldn't believe i would get this excited about these things but after many great semesters, with wonderful professors, (THANKS Dr. White & Dr. Schlicting!) I get to do what i love and majored in! I can tell you that there will be much more to come on this! Also a HUGE package came right before i left for Easter holiday from the 3rd graders at Elm Elementary School! They made glitter pens as fundraiser to buy kids at my basic school supplies and recess equipment! They wrote letters and I know that this is the start to a great international friendship! Thank you so much for all your hard work Mrs. Douglas!
Now for the bad news; I have had a great loss, in a moment of feministic euphoria, i decided to cut off the rest of my hair. I was hoping for a white Rihanna, what I got was Peter Pan. Feeling a bit silly. Oh well hair grows. Just got to get back to my village now where there are no mirrors, so i won't be haunted anymore.
I have been out of my village for what feels like forever, due to visitors at my site, a weekend trip to some near by waterfalls, (See picture above different views, as well as an action shot walking down the mountain to the falls) and my Easter holiday in Gaborone Botswana. All of which have been more that amazing and fun. I am going to steal an excerpt from my travel buddies blog, i feel he wrote it well and it will save me a bit of time, seeing that it is very early in the morning and i have to leave to get a Peace Corp ride back up to site soon! I hope all is well with everyone! Loves, Eliz

"strolled to the main bus station downtown at around 6 and waited for a mini bus to load up to the hitching point towards livingstone, about an hour and a half later. 30 minutes after getting off the bus, got a lift from some South Africans we thought were heading to Livingstone, but found out later at our first pit stop that they were bound for South Africa via Gaborone. Score.

They were awesome and while being in a covered truck bed is never ideal, it was fast and friendly. We stopped in Livingstone at Victoria Falls and went in to the park and saw the massive flow of the Zambezi and the falls, which are nearly at their peak, as the rainy season is winding up. So we did that pretty quick with the Father and Son we were traveling with (the third person was The Father’s sister and is a Zambian resident). From there it was a quick shoot to the border where we took a ferry accross the Zambezi. Kazungula is a cool place because it’s where the Chobe River and Zambezi meet, as well as being a shared border for Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia.

Botswana’s landscape was just amazing, and to my surprise, a lot different than Zambia’s—and especially drastically different than my provence in Zambia. Much flatter, more arid, shorter grasses, scarcer ‘towns’ and, most importantly, way more wildlife. On the way down we saw elephants, girraffees (sp?), zebra-but which might have been something else since they were farther off, baboons. Amazing to think we stopped maybe 40 yards away from an elephant that probably could have manhandled us if it wanted to.

Wound up getting in to Gaborone around 5a the following day and getting to the lodge early. Passed out until lunch time and just hung out. Spent the 3 day weekend in Gaborone and it was nice. It’s a much more developed place from a western standpoint-primarily from their diamond mines and cattle success, but this isn’t that type of post.

Did a lot in Gaborone and enjoyed it thoroughly- hiked Kgale Hill, went on a game drive (spotted hyenas, wharthogs, impala, kudu, wildebeast), checked out the damn and consequently crashed a Greek Orthodox Easter party, ate plenty of amazingly good beef and got my fill of drinks. All in all it was a well spent long weekend in a city I never knew existed and really deserves the title of “Africa For Begginers”-there are similarities of course with life in Zambia, but it’s amazing how westernized and modern it seemed—more cars, nicer cars, a lot of development, great infrastructure.

Monday we left Gaborone and decided to try to make it to the border and had even more crazy fun with that trip. Long, complicated story short: a guy went roughly 400km out of his way to hang out with us and drop us at the border and we wound up staying at the Chobe Safari Lodge at the border for the government rate and there’s a chance it was the nicest place I’ve ever been in my entire life. Amazing kudu stew for dinner with pap (botswana’s version of Zambia’s staple nshima—now I can say I had their best) and some other goodies. Huge 2 room chalet and awesome breakfast buffet this morning before we hit the road and wound up where the start of this entry takes place."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A day in the life

WARNING: This post is, for the most part, fragmented sentences, and i digress quite often. I hope that it does not drive to many people crazy.

The generosity, support, and thoughtfulness that people have shown me since my arrival to Zambia has astounded me, and has brought me to tears more times than my pride will let me admit or count. So this Entry is a very big thanks you. THANK YOU, thank you, a million times thank you! Just seeing that the number count of people who have looked at the blog, who cares really if you submit yourself to my ramblings, has gone up by one, means a great deal to me.
On my not so hot days, I am forced to ask myself what is it that I am running from, why am here putting off life!? On the days where I am laughing at nothing and loving the beauty that encompasses me here, I ask how is it that I am so lucky, living here, living life (this is the strong majority of time, however my mother has pointed out to me that she thinks that I don’t talk about the struggle enough, and even thought she knows what I’m doing is a cake walk . . . I thought I would put in here that I have bad days where I think I am bonkers). As I completed my 7th month of 27 and I am finding what is important or intellectual in my life is changing (45 minute in-depth conversations on the best techniques on gathering and keeping your water supply filled. The feeling of deep fulfillment that comes from baking bread successfully on top of coals, in a frying pan. Sharing food and meals, becoming much more than the surface of those words; but really sitting down next to someone that has never tasted what you are about to give them and watch the experience shape and effect them. More bodily function questions, observations, and sharing than I ever thought I would be comfortable with. What is justice and why is it so hard to find? What is equality? Are our (peace corps volunteers) ego’s and statistical minds able to except the little change that we will be able to see by the time we leave. What is sustainable?) I am changing. Growing. In what direction I could not tell you. And it scares me. But such is life and growing up. By the way does it bother anyone else that in that new(?) Black Eyed Peas song they just throw around the old and beautiful Hebrew words mazel tov and laheim!? I think it bugs me because I don’t think Furggie knows what Hebrew is, but I digress, who am I to judge the lyrical genius of “Furgil-ishious”?!
So onto the topic of what I have been meaning to write about since I opened my computer tonight: “A Day in the life” (I just realized that I should have been naming my posts after songs a way, way long time ago) of ELO! Be warned that each day is different and none of this is truly everyday, but alas it’s the best I can do without you being here with me. Fly’s thought. Man. You never get used to the flys. They be every where! I feel like I’m in a save the children commercial sometimes!
Anyway a typical day for me starts for the most part by waking up and writing me “morning pages” so three pages of just stream of conscience writing, mostly about what happened the day before, what I dreamed about, and what I want to accomplish that day. During this time one of my 4 younger brothers will come by and whisper, that they want to play with the cat. And when I say whisper I mean shout. The cat stays inside. Next I fill my brazier (you can see it in the pictures bellow it’s a small circle that I fill with car coal locally man somewhere near by, not really a good thing) and get “fire” from my family. I make sure that the coals catch put a pot of water on for some kind of caffeinated drink, then either do some yoga or an 8 minute meditation. I get dress and get myself organized, if it is a clinic/”town” day I will gather my things up, but if its not I either go get water, start laundry, begin to make bread, of grab my book. Sadly this is where my day is going to have to end because the is where the consistency end. If its not a school/clinic/town day, I may go to my boma, work in my garden, read, bake, write letters, write, whatever to pass along the time. I really enjoy the challenge of cooking and baking over a temperamental brazier. So if there are any questions about this please let me know, I am sure I am leaving some things out but do not underestimate how long the simplest of tasks take here. Laundry is a whole day thing, and battling the rains make it even harder. On that note I will end this extra long blog post sorry about that! Hope to hear from you soon and thank you once again for all of the support!

And remember, "And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love . . . you make".

Pieces of Me

People tell me that i have a really nice chimbusu, also known as an out house. Those are my pants hanging to dry, i tend to wait to do laundry until i really have too! woops.

These are the some pictures of the before and after of my perma-garden, what i had to dig up and such, back breaking work, also my cat eating a kill under my bed. a 7 in lizard with a blue head and tail! and the some some my house my toilet and my bathing shelter! woo. welcome to zambia!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

hey there

I tried my hardest to prepare for all of the different elements and challenges that I assumed I would face while being a Peace Corps Volunteer; and to be perfectly honest, and not so humble, so far I have to say I have done a damn good job. However, this past week I experienced something that I did not prepare so well for, and that was the departure of friends, both those which are unexpected, as well as those that are planned. Tomorrow, marks the arrival of the “new” intake, a group of agriculture and education volunteers. If you are thinking, “Hey, I thought, Elizabeth/Eliz/Otter/who is this person and why am I reading their blog, was a health volunteer”?! That is very astute of you, because I am, which opens me up to explaining: There are two intakes a year at the distance of 7mo/5mo apart. This is when I become a Peace Corps “Sophomore”, and if you are going to look at Peace Corps in the same way as high school/university ‘years’ this means that a group is graduating. Ahh, right when you get comfortable with new people, a new family so to speak, they be leavin’ on yo ass! Not cool. And, yes, sad.
However, I cannot leave out that many volunteers have countdowns towards new intakes for the fresh meat (sorry for the vulgar term), it can be lonely out here, you know most all the volunteers in country, and if there’s no love connection to be seen, maybe there is a person in the newest intake that is your SOUL MATE, or just someone you connect with. I must say that having a person to share and help you through the bumps in your service, whether a best friend or a significant other (I have been lucky enough to have/enjoy the latter) makes bad days better, and good days amazing and unforgettable. It’s a second opinion, a deep breath. Maybe it’s because the dude I am dating is from my own intake, but I find this countdown a bit insensitive! Inevitably it means that someone is going to be counting down to the day I leave someday, in hopes of someone better, or more available. Sorry, glass half empty , its true there were those that counted down my own intake. There, glass half full; But just another trial of the PCV.
Although I didn’t miss the Super Bowl, next year I am thinking I may, anything that starts at 1am, and no fun commercials, may keep me in bed next year! But great game right!? Anyway the point of this all is that I am bummed that I am missing all the glorious Winter Olympic events! Thinking back on how much fun I had my freshman year of college watching the Olympics’, shouting at the TV screen with Jenny, Kayla, Maggie and others (I don’t think any of us have gotten over the figure skating that year) makes me sad that I am missing out entirely.
Enough of this downer post! Tomorrow 18/2/10) we are getting 40-some new volunteers that will be able to help, change, and grow with Zambia (really this country is something else, if you have any want to come here, do! Tickets may be pricey, but it’s cheap, cheap once you get here! I mean where else is it still ok to hitch-hike EVERYWHERE you go?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Back in Lusaka sooner than hoping to be. I had to come back down for the H1N1 vaccine, so not really back to work yet, but get to see friends so that's always nice. But now i know that i wont be getting swine flu, and i also get paid for being here which is alway nice since we get paid quarterly, and that means our next pay check comes march 1st. Anywya, There was a shortage on the shot while we were here for our IST, so that is why we were here for two weeks went back home and then had to come back once again. Doesn't really make sense to anyone but, such is life, and life "working" for the government. Sadly there is nothing really to report because of this, just that I have been doing well and I am really excited to get back to work. And start all the new project that we talked about and worked on during the training. However it is really exciting to be able to go to the grocery store twice and have fresh veg at my site. its the little things, cold coke lights, fruits, veg, hot water that comes out of a tap and not from a hole then put on a fire then wait for it to boil. So this is my life, on a brighter note i have now been able to start the count down to when my mom, dad, and sister are coming. Still 5 months away but hey, we're getting there. Okay time for my shot finally. sorry this was a lame post.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Christmas. And. New Years.

Hey there campers.
Just a quick post to let you know that I am still here and doing well. Currently in Lusaka, for my Peace Corps, In Service Training, also known as IST. It has been really fun and informative, but a little overwhelming. Kind of crazy that you can go from nothing; one brand of sugar, salt, soya, rice; to everything, meaning choices, weird, in a matter of hours on a road. The poverty dived here is crazy, vast, and changes in a matter of km. I mean i have seen at least seven planes in the sky since i have come to Lusaka, and those who know me probably think i am being sarcastic right now, but I'm not. You got from lusaka, which can fool you on how the country is doing, to just 5-10km outside the city in any direction and no long have water or electricity, and watch the 'architecture' go from buildings, to mud huts. Its hard and sad to see, and more than that hard for me to understand. They are currently pumping money into Lusaka, building it up: new hotels, malls, fancy cars and restaurants. But they are not putting money into fixing the horrible roads or not bringing electricity the schools or clinics. Meds at my clinic are kept cold by a battery, in a cooler that was donated to them from Japan and USAID, the battery is rotated with others and charged by a solar panel. Most of the time we don't have many meds in our cooler, so the staff uses it to chill their drinks. Not a bad Idea, if its going to be plugged in might as well be used right? There is a rumor that a company or something is trying to get all of Zambia Wireless on a 3G network, which is laughable seeing that no one has electricity let alone a computer. And in the off chance that people have cell phones, most families, extended families, share one phone, they are models that are pre color screen let alone internet capability. Anyway, just something to think about. I could go on forever but I won't. I am writing to tell you about my trip to Malawi, which was really fun, and a learning experience. Like I now know that i will never travel/vacation with 10 or more people as it happened I did on this trip. Aside from that everything went really smoothly: the weather was beautiful, we got there in one piece, even if it did take us three days hitching, having both 'good' hitches in the back of trucks and canters, to crowded buses holding other peoples babies and sitting in aisles. The place we stayed was beautiful built into the side of a mountain/cliff on the Lake, however the stairs, which were everywhere, were VERY steep and uneven, not safe if one has been drinking, and not lit at night. lets just say it kept things interesting. It was nice to be with friends around the holidays, and in a new area, it was funny though, because although New Year's felt like New Year's, Christmas felt nothing like Christmas. This i believe is because of one of two reasons: 1. it was an average of 103 degrees in an exotic new place that looked, felt, smelled, tasted, and sounded nothing like 'Christmas' to me one little bit. How could I think it was Christmas, if it was nothing like any of my thoughts or feelings of my past 22 Christmas'? 2. Why let my mind go there at all if it was going to be hard. Love denial. I posted pictures on my facebook page of my walk to the road, also friends who were on the malawi trip with me have/are posting picture, so if you are my 'friend' of close with someone that is, check them out. But for your comfort level and especially my own please do not go through ALL of the pictures that are posted of me, I'm not embarrassed of anything that is up there, nor is there anything that is incriminating, but parent/adult figures are just that, and I would rather them not see a few of them. Love and good wishes to all that are reading this. Happy New Year! Love Elizabeth.

Monday, December 21, 2009

correction. My address is 840038!!! NOT 48 woops. sorry

Empire State of Mind

Probably the best and worst thing to happen to me lately would have to be getting a CD in the mail from my wonderful sister; who truly is keeping me up to date on the music world both pop and indie. Bless her soul! However I must add shout out’s to my totally hip brother, Bobby, his mixes are always the bee’s knee’s and my Aunt Lisa who has a great taste in music and has helped open up my horizons to new music! Thanks guys! Anyway on my sisters latest CD the song “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys was put on it; and boy oh boy does it make me miss New York and my years of college, but especially my last year, and all the people, places, and things that mean New York to me. Ah memories. I am making tons here don’t get me wrong, and who would have guesses that 5 months would have passed so quickly!
It makes me so thankful that I have two years here, because to be perfectly honest I don’t even feel like I have started my service yet! The first 9 weeks was training, and I wasn’t even in my village yet. Now this past 3 months has been getting to know my community, meeting people and organizations, and overall getting a feel for the language and culture. This three-month period has been called community entry, which ended yesterday, just in time for Christmas holiday. My intake has it a bit rough I believe, in terms of setting up a stable connection with our villages, this is because we have a lot of coming and going from our village over a two-month period of time. Those who continue to read from here are going to start sighing, “Poor babies!” in sarcastic undertones, but hear me out, this is all about service and helping people and setting up a trusting reliable relationship with a community. But in January we will be out of the village for over two weeks and its making people have ‘village guilt’. In other news, I have 300 pages left in War and Peace, which I will be happy to have under my belt. If you ever have some time on your hands it really is a good read and a classic for a reason. Also, after 4 ½ months without having a mirror I bit the bullet and bought a small face mirror. It kind of started as a social experiment to see how life would be without ever looking at yourself. It has been really interesting and I find that now that I have a mirror I don’t even use it. It has been, I think, a growing experience, and really interesting to find out all that relates with looking to a mirror. On that note I am going to sign out, Christmas vaca to Malawi starts tomorrow and it should be a bittersweet trip. More to come on that. Happy holidays too all and much love!

Cloudy with a chance of Termites

Cloudy with a chance of Termites

So as of late the rains have begun. We had heard tales of the rainy season while still in training and I must say they haven’t quite yet lived up to the hype in the sense they were talked about, however they are suppose to continue on until march or April so I have a feeling that they will. The one thing that they didn’t tell us about the rainy season, although now thinking about it, it is pretty self-explanatory, is the very fast explosion of and super sized quality of life. In every way; plants, foods, and bugs. I have never seen bigger bugs in my life, sometimes, like when you are passing by them quickly on your bike they are really cool; however other times, like when sitting by yourself in your hut at night, extremely scary! On this fine Saturday night I had just finished up a long but great day, I had gone on a 65km bike ride that day, made a good dinner, and was just sitting down to eat it when I started hearing light thuds. I looked around, thinking that it was rain at first, but realized that sound wasn’t coming from outside so it could not be rain. I started to feel things bounce off me once in a while as well. It was dark, I had a candle lit but you can’t see too much outside of its ring of light, so I picked it up and began to look around for the leak or whatever was falling from my ceiling. It was soon discovered that hundreds of millions of termites were hatching in my thatched, grass, roof and dropping to the floor. For a little over the next two hours I was battling these small and disgusting bugs which were dropping from everywhere, including onto/into my head/hair. Needless to say this turned into what a friend and I joking call a ‘bi-polar’ Peace Corps day. Where you are on cloud 9, life couldn’t be better, and then a small bump in the rails totally derails you into complete devastation. Lets just say there are a lot of emotions going on here daily. The next morning I woke up to new lines of termite tunnels running up most of my walls; including one that started where my pillow ended. Yes, one had landed in my hair and crawled out and started a tunnel. Next to my pillow. I was a very close to throwing up. I battled the termites for the next month, trying to explain to my family on the compound the extent in which my termite problem had gotten. No one thought it was a big deal, as my house was quickly being taken over and my walls and starting to build on the floor. It is not a fun feeling to not feel comfortable or welcome in your own home. It makes one a bit miserable actually. However after phone calls, research, and my host parents coming into my home things started to turn around. And now I have just the imprints and holes in my walls left from the termites. However I have to keep it up with chemicals and poisons to make sure they don’t come back because they and very disgusting as well as persistent.
In more resent news. I have just gotten over malaria, which stunk. But as with most thing that cause pain as soon as you start feeling better, you seem to begin forgetting the pain. But it was painful and I will be using much more bug spray than I was before! Thank you to all of those who have sent emails, or facebook messages of support. It was really, really appreciated, because it was tough being sick by yourself. But on to happier topics I will be spending the Christmas holiday in Nkhata Bay, Malawi on lake Malawi, google it if you like, with friends here in Zambia. I am very, very excited and will be leaving next week. Also Friday marks the end of my community entry, which means that I will be able to leave my district, mine being Mkushi. I will also be able to start working! Holding meetings, programs, and workshops. This is a great step and a fun time filled with opportunity.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Long time no see

Sorry it has been so long since I have posted anything, life has been moving lightening fast in this slow country, don’t really understand it, but it is how its been going, so I guess I just have to run with it. I am now living in my Village, it is 8/9km out side of the “town” Chalata, where I do most of my work. I help out around the Rural Health Clinic there. I am starting to try my hand at bee keeping, teaching nutrition in the schools, work with a women’s group, and I’m helping start a pre-school with one of the head mean (appointed by the Chief in the area, like a mini governor). He has built a structure, and has a board that is willing to do anything, its really exhilarating to have hard working, excited group of people to work with and will use me to help them! More projects are in the works, but during community entry (the first 3 months in the village) you are not allowed/suppose to start and projects or get involved in any. Once those three months are up, my intake will travel to Lusaka for a week to get more training on the more specifics that we want to work on in our communities. This time is meant for you to meet everyone in you area, introduce yourself to the schools, Head Men, Chief, look for and weigh what your community wants vs its needs. But needless to say it is a busy, overwhelming, and extremely tiring at times. Especially with the whole language difference, in almost every instance I deal with, it makes things interesting. Over all though, I am really happy here and loving it. I feel so much cooler than Sarah Palin (always, But) I can say that I can se the Democratic Republic of Congo from my backyard she only has the joke of seeing Russia and that’s over water, not me!
I cut my hair this week, yes it will grow back, yes I have started growing it back, I started the moment the ponytail hit the floor. Its chin length, it makes me look 12, but I am going to donate the hair to ‘Locks of Love’. A non-profit that makes wigs for cancer patients. There was something therapeutic about doing it. Like all the old shit in my life: stress, worries, pettiness, anxiety is gone; and I’m starting fresh. No split ends, no dryness from a blow dryer, or strengthener, no fake reminisce of highlights (I have gotten my hair highlighted with natural blond streaks twice in my life once in Oct 2007 the other time Jan 2009) now you would never know, cause anything that was left is in that ponytail on my floor. I don’t think Bill (my horrible rat) will try to eat it. It’s a nice change though and so much easier, faster, and uses 100% less water to wash. I can still pull it back out of my face too so that’s good.
I want to take a moment to thank EVERYONE for the birthday wishes, cards, cds, candy, est. It made me feel above and beyond special! My address has changed since I have moved to my village. So things are trickling in that got sent to Lusaka after I moved. However not to worry, everything will still get to me no matter where you sent it, people bring the Lusaka mail up whenever there is business that brings them up the Great North Road. But it is faster for you to send things to my new address, which is:
Miss Elizabeth Otter/ PCV
P.O. Box 480038
Mkushi, Zambia
Mkushi is the BOMA that I live closest too. BOMA is some acronym that the Brits made up when Zambia was still a territory. That signifies a town where organizations, Brit Offices, post office and bank are, now there are also Ministry of _________’s there too (ie education, health, agriculture, fisheries, est.). They kind of remind me of a ghost town though for some reason. I think that’s what they look like to a person before they are explored and you discover the vast treasures to be found there. Last week I found Challah bread!! At some side stall in the market! The Bamaayo (woman) who sold it to me had no idea why I was so excited, just another reason to think I’m weird I suppose. Not as if people really ever needed more reasons. I am pretty sure from here on out I will be writing and updating more from now on, now that I am settled and have all the I’s dotted and t’s crossed that I possibly can at this time. Maybe the internet will be fast enough to upload some pictures some time. We shall see! Thank you all for your interest and support. It means the world to me. Be well, act and lead with your reason, and a bit of

Saturday, August 29, 2009

grapevine fires

I don’t know how many people are friendly with the song by Death Cab for Cutie “Grapevine Fire’s” (you will be transfered to the YouTube video if you click on the title of today's blog, which is really a link, so look up and click), but I find myself singing it to myself while biking at least once a day. My bike ride to my classes, although only a little over 4km, is what I like to call extreme mountain biking. It’s through two streams, a 2 foot down/up hill gap (mini valley) in the earth and down and then up a big hill or small mountain. See this time of year in Zambia is very windy, dry, all while it is getting warmer each day. It is the time of year that farmers begin to get their fields ready before the rainy season. With these points in mind, along with the fact that no one is really quite sure why, it’s also the time of the year that every house hold in the country loves to burn the grasses around their houses, fields, or anywhere really. Some people say that they do it so in case there really was a fire their houses would be safe. Mud walls + Grass roof + fire = no house (bad news). Others say that the grasses are burned as a kind of fertilizer for the earth, and lastly to find, kill, catch to eat the mice that are in the fields. But alas, as I bike to and from the training center over looking the beautiful countryside that was just burnt or is still smoking; I cannot help but put the images I see to the music that I can most relate to this time.

Little Elishaba was really sick with the flu last week. Just today (Tuesday 8/25) after a full week of not being able to hold anything down (or in (Oh and no diapers are used here, not even the cloth kind, that’s a luxury that can not be afforded. If you are thinking messy, you are right)). As most of you know who are reading this, it’s really scary when a baby’s sick. They can’t tell you what’s wrong, it’s hard to relive them from any pain that they are in, and its hard not to feel helpless when they cannot keep anything down!

But even scarier for me, was the fact that we have been covering Under-5 care the past week, and have been preached to by Peace Corps, how the greatest cause of mortality in U-5 is diarrhea leading to dehydration. Needless to say watching her become weaker and weaker was hard for me. My host parents kept asking me questions about what they should do, or what I thought might be the issue since I am a health volunteer. But I had no idea what to do seeing that I have never had a child before and Bamaayo and Batata have had four. I couldn’t help thinking that I have only babysat for families of four, so it was a bit different, and they knew a bit more about what to do than me. It was also kind of hard not to say or tell them to just give her some children’s Tylenol, which does not exist here. Woops.

I was able to offer dehydration salts, but they had their own, and were in the process of using them. I hate feeling helpless and always try to be as proactive as I can be, so you can assume that this was a hard experience for me, however I couldn’t help looking at it as a valuable learning experience since I am going to be coming across situations like this more times than not in the next few years. There are going to be many times that I am not going to be able to act in the helpful manor I may think best because of a lack of education, clauses in my Peace Corps contract, and the fact that helping one family in a special way in the village would be equivalent to opening Pandora’s box. So since this story has a happy ending, and I am still in training, I am taking this baby sickness as a good thing; because it is one thing to be told that I must be hands off as a volunteer, or feeling helpless at times, but a totally different thing to experience it.

Did you know that I am a hair dresser? Me either, but I am now the July 2009 RAP/CHIP intake official go to hair cutter. Today marked my fourth successful hair cut (I am getting better with each one)! I have given one girl with hair the length to her mid-back a smashing fo-hawk (mini Mohawk), another girl with shoulder length hair a peter-pan-ish hair cut, a boring dude hair cut to a dude, and a cute angled bobb to another girl with shoulder length hair. Please don’t worry, each person asked for the style they received, there have been no tears, and I have gotten many requests to other people’s hair once we get back from out second site visit. Oh and I found out that I am going to Central Prov! Bordering the Northern Prov, and the DRC. See you all in a week!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Joy of Cooking (I hope you are thinking of the huge Ugly orange Betty Croker book too!)

Never has making a little kid throw up made me so happy.

Not the first line you were expecting, was it? And for the record, I don’t think I have ever made any little kids throw up before. Tonight I made dinner for my host family. I wanted to make something that was true blood American through and through. I also wanted to do something that a PVT had never made before, that meant that pizza was out or “Peter” as my host mom and dad so endearingly call it. However, it had to be easy enough so that I could make it over a wood fire, so no oven, used no more than one pot/pan. Lastly it had to be something we could eat with our hands since my family owns two forks, two spoons, one butter knife, and one sharp cutting knife. The answer to what to make may be obvious to some; sadly it took me almost two weeks to think it up.

The answer . . . Cheeseburgers! Only my Bamaayo (host mother) had ever heard of them before, and that was after I had explained to her what they were. So I made the exciting 45km trip to Lusaka in order to pick up all that was needed. While at the grocery store I ran into many moral issues such as: do I buy the tide and true condiments that give hamburgers and cheeseburgers there flair and messy awesomeness? While knowing all along that they need to be refrigerated after opening, meaning that they will go bad very fast since we have no such thing to keep them cold, making them a waste of money? Also new foods are scary enough as it is. Why make it harder burdening these poor people with the choice or adding ketchup or mustered? I mean come on, do you remember the first time you had sushi? Frightening. It took me so long to eat my first roll. The issue of if the food would be too rich came across my mind as well; I didn’t want to make anyone sick, thus giving me a bad name as a cook and ruining burgers for them forever! See, we eat the same bland thing every night umbwali (corn meal and water made so thick you can (and do) roll it into a little ball, imprinting your thumb into it, then using it to scoop whatever “relish” you are eating that night (cut up greens or cabbage, with either soya pieces, a kind of salty potato like bush root, or maybe beans) up with it and your thumb). Our two seasonings used are salt and cups of oil. So you can see my concern. Last but not least, they asked for “peter” and I told them no, that I would make it some other weekend, that I wanted them to try something new first. So I was going against what they wanted, making something greasy out of two things the hardly ever eat, red meat and dairy, and to top it off not even giving them the full experience (no condiments and no lettuce or pickles).

As they watched me start to make the burgers I could tell that they were all pretty nervous, and I was too. I was cooking three patties at a time for the nine of us, on a frying pan. I was sitting on a small three legged stool, and each time I flipped a burger I would burn my legs since I was A) using a fork to flip the patties B) the grease was building up in the pan bouncing onto me, and C) I had to startle the frying pan/ fire. Job (10) doesn’t eat meat, so I made him a grilled cheese. Finally, after toasting the buns, adding tomato and onion, they were ready, and I was forced to let my burgers speak for themselves and soon everyone was eating in a content silence. What I consider a sign of a good meal. Sadly I forgot to put out the chips I bought with the burger, but they were a welcomed surprise when they were done eating. Bertha, my 18-year-old cousin, was so excited when she saw them she ran out of the kitchen. Two medium sized bags were gone before I put set them down on the ground.

Next and last stop was dessert, S’mores! I mean come on, who doesn’t love s’mores? Well Mulolo (3) found out that he does not like marshmallows, it was everyone’s first time trying those too. But he loved the chocolate the Tennis Biscuits, which are so amazing! They were my substitute for gram crackers. They are delicious biscuit/ cracker that is honey and coconut flavored, but not over powering. I wish they had them in the states! Well in my mitts of the s’more excitement, and Mulolo probably on his first sugar high, was jumping up and down and giggling. It was the cutest thing . . . until he threw up some of his chocolate. Woops. This made everyone laugh, it was quickly cleaned up; and God love him, Mulolo rallied right back, and continued jumping up and down. All in all I must say that cheeseburger and s’more night was a great success and if it was not so much money, I would make a special dinner every week. But alas, I am living on a volunteer’s salary, so I will only be able to do one other dinner. I’m thinking, “peter”.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

1st picture is of my Bamaayo, and my baby sister (10 mo yesterday) out in our yard, Elishaba obviously was getting a bath! She is so cute, and no longer scared of me, which is awesome! 2nd is after dinner the other night. THis is our kitchen. we eat around the wood burning fire. I am always so impressed with the fact that they can cook over it! I think i would just burn everything! 3rd. This is part of the Compound I live at, to the left is the families hut, and behind is part of a field that the farm. To the right is my 'cousin's' hut. I am standing outside of my hut but they all pretty much look the same, some are just smaller than others.

I am going to make my family dinner to night . . . Cheeseburger's and chips and S'Mores for dessert. They have never even heard of hamburgers before, so i am excited and will let you know how it goes!

Why hello there!

Muli Shani!

That is “How are you doing?” in Bemba; the language that I am learning here in Zambia. I suppose saying that I am learning is an understatement, its more accurately being shoved down my throat. I have 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours of language training a day, not to mention I am living with a family who’s first language is Bemba. They are such wonderful people, but more about that in a few minutes!

Well, I have made it to Zambia all right. After being thrown into a group of 42, a few ice breakers, hours of paper work, some flip chart presentations, and of course a few more shots (vaccines, not alcohol); Peace Corps head quarters in DC felt we were finally able to leave and become part of PCZ (Peace Corps Zambia (and I thought that TFA (Teach For America) had a thing for acronyms, they have nothing on Peace Corps or so it feels!)). On my 18.5 hour flight to Jo-burg my new best friend and I really became close, Ambein. I am never going to travel long distances without it ever again!

To be perfectly honest the first few days were all a blur, I was assigned a roommate to stay with the first few nights. She was nice, she is in the other group (there are two groups with in the one big group, myself in CHIP (Community Heath Interactive Partnership) and RAP. I’m not really sure what it stands for but I know that they are working on building fish ponds within their assigned communities (which we don’t know yet) and teaching the people of the community how to keep them up and sell their profits. It’s all about Sustainable Development. This is the first time I am typing these words for this blog, but here is a little warning: It’s not going to be the last. That is our over all, end all job; to create Sustainable Development everywhere we go.

After Being in country for about 2 days, we were split up into groups of 5 or 6 within our trainee programs and left for our first site visit. We were told that the province that we went to for our first site visit was not going to be where we ended up. I went to Eastern. It was beautiful and wonderful, and gave me a great opportunity to get to know 5 people very well. To be honest, I really didn’t need to know one man so well, but was forced too, since his snoring at night left me no choice but to stare at top of the tent and think about how great I would be, not to mention how much better I would be sleeping, if there was not someone one sleeping bag down from me snoring at a disable level above and beyond a screaming police car. I really wish I was exaggerating right now. I’m not. However, the site visit give me a look into what the next two years are going to hold for me. The kind of house I will be living in, where I will be cooking my meals, how I will be getting my water (a bore hole), where I will bathe (behind a reed fence with a plastic bucket full of water I have warmed up over the fire), where I will be going to the bathroom (a hole about 4.5 inches in dynamiter in a cement hut), and the kind of work I will be doing. And to tell ya’ll the truth. I came back from that site visit more excited and ready to start the next two years then I was building up to my departure.

I am so excited and happy to be here. I feel so at home and free. After returning from our first site visit we were introduced to the language we would be learning. Which was actually a big deal because it splits the groups up further. It begins to give you an idea of A. where you will be going within the country (if not where you are going, depending on the language) and B. who your neighbor’s (in a the relative sense of the word) can/ will be. However, since I am a Bemba, there are three different provinces that I could be going too, so us Bemba’s don’t know where we will be going yet, but should with in the next 2 weeks or so.

Now you have a very brief over view of the beginning of my life as a PCT (peace corp trainee, since I will not be a PCV until swear in on Sept 25), and now that I have re started this blog, it is only going to be easier and faster for me to update. My goal is once a week, for a while at least. I have been listening to the mix my sister Julie made me while writing tonight. It’s real nice.

Oh and Remember if anyone would like to send me mix CD’s or Favorite Albums of any kind of music I would love it!


(Stay Well)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Getting ready to ship out

Below you will find my Address, as well as some other information about my next 6 months! Enjoy!

Dear Prospective Volunteer: Please give this letter to your family and/or friends and

ask them to hold on to it for as long as you are in Zambia.

July 2009

Dear Families and Friends,

Greetings from the Zambia Desk at the Peace Corps in Washington, D.C. It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the Peace Corps circle of friendship. We receive many questions from family members and friends about life in Swaziland over the course of the Volunteer’s two years of service, so we would like to offer you advice and assistance in advance.

1. Irregular Communication. (Please see #3 for the mailing address to Peace Corps' office in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia) Mail in Zambia is fairly reliable. Volunteers find they generally receive mail and packages from the United States two to four weeks after it has been sent. The same is true in sending mail from Zambia. Of course, there are exceptional cases in which a letter or a package might arrive within a shorter period or be substantially delayed. Some mail may simply not arrive. We suggest that in your first letters you ask the Volunteer to give an estimate of how long it takes for him/her to receive your letters, and then try to establish a predictable pattern of how often you will write to each other. Also, try numbering your letters so that the Volunteer knows if he/she has missed one.

Being a Peace Corps Volunteer is a rewarding experience; however, there will also be times that Volunteers will feel frustrated and they may write home telling of their "war" stories. Letters might describe recent illnesses, frustration with work, lack of resources, information, and infrastructure, etc. While the subject matter may be good reading material, it can often be misinterpreted on the home front. Volunteers have a support network in country, which includes other Peace Corps Volunteers, counterparts and community members at their site, as well as Peace Corps/Zambia staff. The Peace Corps’ highest priority is maintaining the good health and safety of every Volunteer. Peace Corps/Zambia maintains a medical unit with full-time medical officers, who provide for the Volunteers’ primary health care needs. Additional medical services, such as testing and basic treatments, are available in Zambia and in South Africa. If the Volunteer is seriously ill, they will be transported to South Africa or to the United States.

If for some reason your communication pattern is broken and you do not hear from your family member, you may want to contact the Zambia Desk or the Office of Special Services (OSS) at Peace Corps Washington at 1-800-424-8580, extension 1470. Also, in the case of an emergency at home (death in the family, sudden illness, etc.), please do not hesitate to call OSS immediately, so that a message can be sent to the Volunteer. Use the above number during regular business hours (9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern time, Monday through Friday). After hours, or during weekends, the Peace Corps Duty Officer may be reached at (202) 692-1470. Tell the operator your name, telephone number, and the nature of the emergency, and the Duty Officer will call you back.

2. Telephone Calls. Telephone lines in Zambia are fairly reliable. During the pre-service training though, opportunities for the trainees to call the United States will be limited. Most Volunteers purchase cell phones. Volunteers may or may not have residential phones; however, some Volunteers, use public phones, or find that a neighbor or the organization they work with has a phone they are able to use to make and receive calls. They will be able to inform you of telephone numbers where you might reach them once they arrive at their permanent sites.

The Zambia Desk maintains regular contact with the Peace Corps office in Lusaka through phone calls and e-mail. However, these communications are reserved for business only and cannot be used to relay personal messages. All communication between family members and the Volunteer should be done via international mail, personal phone calls, or e-mail. Volunteers may have access to e-mail at Internet cafes on a weekly or monthly basis, depending on their location.

3. Sending packages. Parents and Volunteers like to send and receive care packages through the mail. Unfortunately, sending packages can be a frustrating experience for all involved due to occasional thefts and customs taxes. You may want to try to send inexpensive items through the mail, but there is no guarantee that these items will arrive. Even though many Volunteers choose to get local post office boxes, you may also use the following address to send letters and/or packages:

Name of Volunteer, PCV

Peace Corps

P.O. Box 50707

Lusaka, Zambia

It is recommended that packages be sent in padded envelopes if possible, as boxes tend to be taxed more frequently. For lightweight but important items (e.g. airline tickets), DHL (an express mail service) does operate in Lusaka. If you choose to send items through DHL, you must address the package to the Country Director, c/o U. S. Peace Corps/Zambia, 71A Kabulonga Road, Kabulonga, Lusaka, Zambia (the phone number for the Peace Corps office in Zambia is 260-21-1260377, as DHL will need this information). If you send the item to the Country Director, no liability can be assumed. For more information about DHL, please call their toll free number, 1-800-CALL-DHL, or visit their web site at . Other courier services do operate in Lusaka - DHL is only one possibility.

We hope this information is helpful to you during the time your family member or friend is serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Swaziland. We understand how frustrating it is to communicate with your family member overseas and we appreciate your using this information as a guideline. Please feel free to contact us at the Zambia Desk in Washington, D.C. if you have any further questions. Our phone numbers are 1-800-424-8580, ext. 2333/2334, or locally, 202-692-2333/2334.

If you want to sing out, Sing out

. . . And if you want to be free, be Free. Things I do, and think about.