Peace Corps Training has wrapped up and I’m officially stationed in my village. Life is rapidly changing, slowing down, and intensifying as I adjust to life in my new home. Over the next six weeks, I’ll be sequestered in my district as part of my community entry period, in which Peace Corps limits my ability to move around the country in order that you might integrate more fully into my village. Actually, because of my limited availability and unreliable cell phone reception (and associated data; I know, #PoshCorps), you are reading posts I wrote at the end of April and scheduled to upload throughout my absence.
Don’t worry – I am still able to respond from time to time when I ride my bike into town for groceries. But, if I’m a little tardy in approving and replying to comments, please forgive me. Sometimes the best (and worst) thing about Peace Corps is how it cuts you off from the rest of the world. Never fear, though; this blog will soldier on and continue to bring you the breaking Peace Corps bush notes from northern Zambia.
In the meantime, let’s do the numbers.
13 – Number of hours taken to drive from Lusaka to the Northern Provincial House in Kasama in a fully loaded cruiser. It’ll take another 3-6 hours to reach my personal site from Kasama.
11– Number of volunteers from the newly sworn-in LIFE and RAP 2014 intake bound for northern district, packed into 2 cruisers and 1 trailer.
50 – approximate number of bags (plus 11 bikes) we had to cram into said cruisers.
270 – approximate number of kilometers from my site to the provincial house. 70 of those kilometers are along possibly the worst road known to mankind. It is without risk of melodrama that I say this road is a cruiser-killer (1 is the number of cruisers we’ve wrecked on it so far), and is
sometimes often impassable in the rainy season. The Romans must be spinning in their graves.
42 – number of volunteers currently serving in Zambia’s northern province. 100% of which appear to be mellow, down-to-earth, delightful people.
5 – number of days one of my fellow Mambwes had been afflicted with a solid (ha!) case of Mr. D. during training. 10 is the number of fingers I have crossed that my first weeks in site are Mr. D. free.
6 – approximate number of kwacha in a USD.
1,728 – number of kwacha in our montly volunteer allowance, which is more than enough to meet daily living needs, transportation, and maybe leave a little left over each month for travel, luxury items, or the pursuit of a really good wheat beer.
5-35 – amount in kwacha the average meal can cost in Zambia, depending on location and style of meal.
10,000 – number of hugs it felt like I gave when saying goodbye to the rest of my intake as we head out to community entry. ### are the undisclosed number of tears I may have choked back as the cruisers pulled away with my ZamFam, not to be seen for another 3 months.
18 – Number of Alaskans currently serving in Peace Corps! I found this press release published by Peace Corps just before our intake’s departure, and was surprised to learn about the Alaskan community of volunteers. Family is everywhere, it seems. Total number of Alaskans to have served in Peace Corps = just under 1000.
11 – rating on a scale of 1-10 of how happy I am to be in the Peace Corps. 100% is the degree to which I am certain that this was the right choice for me, and could be for you, too.
*This blog is in no way associated with NPR (but seriously, how ecstatic would I be if it ever were?), Market Place, or any other slogan or publication that I shameless parody on this blog.*