Wow, long time no blog.
I’ve been spending my time in the village! I’m just back to town after a month of staying in the village, doing a challenge: thirty days with no electronics, trips to town, or visitors. It was a great month! Difficult at times, yes, but really worthwhile.
Time passes interestingly here. The minutes seem to tick by at a glacial pace, but once you’re over the hill and you look back at the last amount of time, whether it be a week or a month or more, it’s passed in the blink of an eye. It seems like just last week I was saying goodbye to my family on Skype for the month.
Looking back on the thirty days, I’m not really entirely sure what passed most of my time. I read a lot, certainly - some ten books or so - but not all of my time was dominated by reading. I took long walks in the hills, worked on murals and other artwork, cooked, played my guitar and sang, and played a lot of solitaire.
I wandered to some really incredible places. My favorite walk I took was born out of the intention to find the granite crossing of the small nearby river and then follow it upriver to the small waterfall, but I wasn’t able to find a path through the maize fields to the river until way beyond the crossing, as I found out when I finally made it down to the water. I decided to follow the river, though, and popped my shoes off and waded in it, following it downstream. I walked for over an hour in the sunshine, without seeing a sign of any people. When I got to a wide bend, I took a dip in the cool water, just enjoying the solitude and the gorgeous blue sky. Then I found the next bush path and struck out for home. I had to climb over a mountain and then figure out how to get down the steep other side, but wound up at a family’s compound and they set me off in the right direction, back to the main path.
I was having a really great time for most of the month, just listening to the birds and insects outside at night, singing to myself a lot, and getting lots of practice on my guitar, but I really was starting to miss my iPod by the end of it. It’s nice to enjoy the natural ambiance, of course, but it’s really relieving to just be able to put your headphones in and drown out the crying baby across the field or the dogs and roosters causing a ruckus at 2300 hours every night.
That, and I missed the variety of books offered to me by my Kindle. I had plenty of hard copy books borrowed from the Peace Corps house library, of course, but whereas the books on my Kindle are “I’ve always wanted to read this!” type books, the books I nab from the PC library are of the “I guess this looks mildly interesting” type. There were definitely a handful that I struggled through because I was just not into them. I’m excited to continue reading some of my favorite series (namely the Dune series and the Lord of the Rings trilogy) on my Kindle now!
Of course, my intention was to spend a solid thirty days in the village, but the best laid plans… I got a really bad sore throat near the end, and on day 21 I woke up with what I was almost certain was strep throat. I had to call the medical office, and sure enough, they had me go into town to pick up penicillin at the house. I felt really defeated and upset about that. Luckily I didn’t have to stay the night - I just picked up my drugs and went straight back home - but I was still disappointed that it made me have to break the rules and use my phone, then go to town. Still, I’m glad I went, because my strep cleared right up after the first day of antibiotics.
After that, I spent the last week at the clinic, which was a welcome change of pace! I went on the monthly outreach under-5 clinic to Siabunkululu, a neighboring village, and talked to the mothers about fish farming and the importance of a protein-rich diet for growing children. Then for the other days I’ve just been helping at the clinic itself, hanging out with the staff there and bouncing ideas for projects for World Malaria Month - next month in April - and more HIV/AIDS prevention.
I’m here at the house for a few days now in preparation to head up north to Serenje for a meeting for Camp GLOW (Girls Leading Our World), the girls’ empowerment camp put on by PCVs. After this national meeting, we’ll continue to have provincial meetings until we hold the camp in several months.
After the GLOW meeting, I’m taking my first vacation! We’re going to Lake Tanganyika, up north in Mpulungu, and I’m excited to see more of Zambia. I have only seen Lusaka and Southern provinces, so I can’t wait to get to see Central and Northern as well - and hopefully some of my friends up north too!
When I come back from vacation in early April, I’ll be throwing myself back into my work in the village. I’m planning to keep helping out around the clinic for a few days a week as my schedule allows, with a special emphasis on malaria prevention. We had out packs and packs of coartem, malarial treatment, every day to all ages. I’m hoping to try to reduce the rates of malaria in my area.
On top of my clinic work, I’m going to be continuing to pursue farmers for aquaculture work - I’m hoping I’ll have some success now that the rains are ending and there’s less work to be done in the fields. My counterpart and I will be traveling to farmers’ homes to meet their families and see their land.
Lastly, I’m hoping to visit Mudukula Basic School in May (I have to wait until then because April is a break for the Zambian school system) to talk with the headmaster about doing some programs in the classroom. I want to get involved with more youth life skills education, HIV education and prevention, and possibly getting some youth interested in fish farming clubs.
So that’s how my life has been! The lack of updates is not only due to my last month in the village, and my difficulties in solar charging sometimes, but also because there’s really not that much too noteworthy happening for me… I’m just enjoying the company of my amazing host family, cooking some delicious chili, playing a lot of guitar, and getting as much work done as I can get my hands on.
More from me after my travels up north!