My intake has just passed our eight month mark in Zambia and we are now back in our sites working to get our first projects off the ground and get down to the nitty-gritty of Peace Corps service. With another nine months before our next conference, the remainder of our first year of service and beginning of our second year will focus on our work as fish farming volunteers, community development, HIV/AIDS education, and hosts of other projects that differ from volunteer to volunteer. It’s an exciting time and there’s lots to talk about.
But first, let’s do the numbers.
1kg or 2.2lbs – Amount of raw sugar I eat each month (not counting unseen sugar in foods I eat during rare trips to town), amounting to about 12kg per year. It’s a little alarming to actually be able to see (almost) every grain of sugar I eat and to knowingly add it all to my food. American diets rarely afford this transparency, as noted by the typical 150lbs or 68kg American’s eat each year. Living in Zambia has cut my sugar intake by nearly 1/3rd.
2 – Number of adorable animals I adopted since posting to site. Meet Sadie (whose real name should be Puddles)and my cat, whose name I have yet to settle on. In the running are Metallicat, Kitters (I am a bastian of creativity), and Slayer. 0 is the number of rats I’ve found in my house since adopting the cat.
3 – Number of host families I have been adopted by in my new site. Upside: an endless stream of little food gifts, people coming by to greet me, and people willing to share nshima with me every afternoon. Downside: sometimes those greetings are at 5:30 in the morning.
30:1 – Ratio of eggs that survive the 3-hour bumpy truck/minibus ride and 5km bike ride from Mbala to my site. For every tray of eggs that makes it home, we usually have on casualty that is promptly “mourned” and put to rest by my puppy.
25 – Number of books I have read thus far in my service, or about one book every 1.5 weeks.
2 – Average number of new Mambwe words I learn each week. Some new favorites: shupa – difficult; kutiya – it isn’t; pali pamwi – together.
3 – Number of pieces of mail I receive, on average, every month. Usually one package and two letters. Thank you so much to everyone who sends their love and support through the mail!
75% – Amount of time I’m typically in my village, on average. The other 25% of the time I’m traveling, visiting another volunteer, or am using my allotted 4 days per month at my provincial house. The amount of time we spend in vs. out of their villages is a topic of great discussion amongst volunteers, and one that I will revisit in a later post.
2 – Average number of hours per day I spend listening to the radio. I am able to receive 2 English-speaking stations on my shortwave radio: BBC and Voice of America (VOA), as well as another dozen stations in all manner of languages, 0 of which I understand. WHY didn’t I study harder in my high school French class??
On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “get my on the next plane out of here” and 10 being “these next 20 months are going to fly by”, I’m feeling about a 9 in terms of being glad I stuck things out and gave my new village a good ol’ college Peace Corps try. My new home is welcoming, safe, drama and trauma free, and is beginning to feel like a place I can belong. For the first time since posting to site, I’m waking up happy and ready to greet (ukulamoka) the day.
*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 shamelessly parody on this blog.*