First Provincial Meetings: Central

Monday morning I reached Kapiri and went to the post office to catch my bus. Since the bus will come at 9:30, I got to know my friend at the post office. She is 22 year old police officer standing guard for the post with a rifle next to her. Trained and official, and incredible she is an curious and intimidating person. But a great friend. From Eastern province and my tribal cousin since I am a Bemba speaker, we enjoyed each other’s company until I said goodbye.

The bus was a beautiful greyhound like bus with AC and radio and since it’ll be only a few hours till I get there, I enjoyed the ride. Ate some food and enjoyed network bliss and Facebook.

I reached Serenje and found the house myself with some directions from my peace corps volunteer leader and found it on my own just as he was leaving the gate. To see an American after so long made me almost cry. A big hug to all of them and I went to pick out my room for the week.

And there I just fell into a couch as watched Parks and Recreation that someone left on a loop in the TV room. Ah, and apple pie bliss.

I met new volunteers doing great work in their villages as they held health fairs sponsored by country phone networks while others were preparing for a Glow week coming up where we chose two girls from our villages for a week long camping retreat to boost confidence and growth. There was also a similar ELITE week for boys including canoeing and empowerment. Unluckily as new volunteers, we don’t have many vouches yet so all of us have to wait till next year.

But to see my future work made me excited and to meet similar people as I am was exciting. The whole day was brilliant and funny and the night we cooked Thai food together and eat together before we talked and finished the night with funny dancing and a stupid movie. I fell asleep pretty early as I do when I’m in the village. I’m still on village time.

Tuesday morning was filled with meetings. It began with official business to best practices where we tell what we do in villages. I actually had some input to give which is brilliant. I started a girls time club where girls come and just talk and gossip and drink lemonade. For some reason, someone asked how I make lemonade and I felt like I was being asked by a Zambian. After a moment of dumbfounded ness, I answered lemons and sugar and the volunteer next to me named Samuel laughed saying the villagers in his village cook the lemonade before they drink it. I understood now but that was a moment of like “what?”

Afterwards, we had a house meeting deciding to pool in some money for needs for our house. The big rat problem was the biggest issue and then smaller electronics. To me, rats were a big thing.

(For some reason, I did not see one rat up close the whole week. Many were killed and seen from a far but I’m very lucky to not have experienced them.)

Finally, we talked about how we are moving to the new house and how it will happen soon. But with peace corps time and Zambian time it might be after six months. And even more still.

And then we were done and everyone was tired of talking.

So we chilled. I went out to town and got garlic, carrots and watermelon and some lemons. I missed some veggies that crunched. Enjoyed chatting and typing up my community assessment which is a long summary of my village statistics to present at training in the next week.

That night, we made burgers and mushroom Burgers with beans and potato salad and I almost cried. Seriously, burgers after almost six months without beef. I finished as much as I could but my village stomach could not handle this American sized portion. I ate greedily and enjoyed the second night of laughter and jokes and stories.

I woke the next morning to a cold shower. I am used to them now and I want to continue them as hot showers are pointless here unless it is cold season between June to August. Cold in the morning prepared you for the heat blast at nine. And I put on a nice dress and also to showcase how much biking has had an effect on my legs. Everyone noticed and whistled. I was happy. Ate some quick breakfast. Eggs and half a watermelon. Remember, village stomach.

For lunch, I ate a lot of bread and cheese because I didn’t want a true grilled cheese. I think that would’ve ruined me. To have that extreme comfort food after none. I shared my watermelon and enjoyed the sweetest and tastiest watermelon in Zambia. Shared with the guards too. We have three guards: Katonga, Sundash or Sundance, Lawrence. They have been here since the beginning of Central Peace Corps and because they love us so much, they are moving their families with us to the new city and house! They are amazing and kind men with the biggest and best hearts and protect our house, day and night. The youngest Lawrence has been there for us for almost 11 years! And because of new policy, our house dogs Marley, General Patton and one more dog no longer can stay with us and two of them are adopting them! Serious love in Central. I went to them and have them a piece each and talked to them about their families and Lawrence just became a father to a second girl named Mercy. Watermelon brought us close as we laughed about making a mess all over our face and the fact that we are not allowed to judge each other. Everyone came to help me finish my watermelon and it was nice to share amongst friends.

That evening, we ate enchiladas and tortillas with salsa. Oh my god, again it was good. Every morning, since the first I ate leftovers but that night I had seconds and thirds. And the next day, I ate it for breakfast and dinner. I watched an annual pig roast. Every province does this weird way of cooking and I saw it done and was
Amazed at the results.

You dig a large hole at least four feet deep and five feet long. You have a grill as wide with chains so you can haul it up. You place an entire pig on it and covered the hole in hot charcoal for grilling and then smother it with more charcoal and then more until it cooks low heat and for almost a day. It was astonishing as we also added the turkey for Thanksgiving.

That night, we were joined by an extension volunteer working in Lusaka who came to see our PCVL and it was nice to hear his stories. Three years in Zambia and working toward the end of his third year reporting numbers into a computer after two years on a field. It’s fun how we can easily bond because of our shared statuses as volunteers. Another night amongst Americans faded away into a morning of leftover burgers and cold potato salad and an entire watermelon eaten with just a spoon.

Thanksgiving came with an all day cooking adventure. I made glazed carrots and creamed spinach. Ginger and sugar went with carrots and pecan pie. All came in the oven with red lobster biscuits. Garlic mashed potatoes and so much good that my plate had height. And then the pork came out of the hole. It was crispy on the outside and amazing on the inside. It was delicious and the turkey. For me it wasn’t as the turkey I’m used to but delicious with the gravy and the next day for turkey sandwiches. We ate with our Zambian guards and friends and we said what we are thankful for and everyone clapped the new guys in and we ate till our bellies were full knowing American food is hard to come by this good and ready and plentiful. It was a great night and I felt blessed spending it with such unique and one of a kind people I would’ve only met if I had joined Peace Corps. And I did and I met them and I’m lucky enough to celebrate and be thankful for them. My family away from family they have become.

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