OK ... so my first three weeks at site have been interesting to say the least. I spent the first week introducing myself to the community, womens groups, farming associations, neighbors and all. I've had ample opportunity to ride my snazzy bike around and go to the market, Ntumbuchushi Falls (gorgeous), tried to meet the chief and headmasters of the local schools, and have had many many hours of Brette time (building the compost pile, reading, writing, organizing the house, and just chillin on the porch cooking).
I have a dog - left by the volunteer I replaced - who hangs with me most days and will scare away any kids or unexpected visitors - which is somewhat anti social of me to allow, but hey...I enjoy my alone time!
Now - story time:
So I arrive home in the heat of mid day on day #4 at site to find the old headman and a nursing mother - yes literally breastfeeding as she works - hoeing back grass around my house to increase the firebreak...so obviously I couldn't just sit in the shade and watch them work (even though thats exactly what I wanted to do) so I grabbed a hoe (me and my 8 blisters acquired the day before from making my compost pile) and proceeded to cut back 6ft tall grass in the sweltering heat with 2 folks that I could barely communicate with.
The next day...again I am arriving mid day from a bike into town.. to find the same two folks...and many other women and kids around my house again...this time, without warning to me, they set the surrounding fields on fire (which if you are familiar with sub saharan africa at all you know that this time of year everything is mad crazy dry and light up rediculously fast and easy...and spread like butter -I can't believe I just used that cliche!) So anyway it turned into somewhat of a chaotic scene with all these barefooted kids and women running around using broadleafed branches to keep the fire going in the intended direction - which was working fine until the wind changed and the fire jumped the break and started to come for the house. So amidst the scrambling, I am trying to understand these women yelling to me in Bemba (which luckily I finally got that they needed me to grab all my water from inside) and the disaster was avoided - for the time being anyway.
Ironically, day number 6 at site I arrived home after attending a fish farming workshop put on by my closest volunteer neighbor, to find a skeleton structure of a smoldering house - yes my house, yard, chicken house, insaka, bathing shelter, and toilet now bore a charred, smokey, and barren appearance - everything burned down to ashes with the exception of the mud bricks which once housed all my belongings...Some ashes in the yard apparently were not cool and proceeded to catch everything on fire..Not to worry though...no one was hurt and I can now say I am truly having an authentic Zambian experience (fire destruction - especially in these late burn areas is a tragic yet common experience) and am no longer weighted down by possessions!
My village showed great concern, and I allready have another house to move into - granted it needs some work - wall taken down, new windows, cement the floors, new grass on roof - but it is great...and I have a fabulous view of a hill rising from the Ngoni River to the distant horizon...still surrounded by banana and mango trees.
So I have been in and out of town a bit and haven't had the time to do a whole lot of work yet (Im back in town now taking some antibiotics because I naively ignored some scrapes on my leg which in turn made my entire foot swell up..almost forcing me to amputate it myself because it hurt so damn much...I won't be letting that happen again!) But I am almost healed, and will be heading back to the bush soon...
Here's where you all come in though...I no longer have any addresses or pics or anything for that matter so if you all want more mail either email me your addresses or grab your pens, crayons, and paper and send me some snail mail...I would love to hear from you all! I miss you all and don't worry...I am fabulous! Tukalamonana