Monday, May 14, 2018

Kuomboka Revisited.


When I lived in Mongu in 2013 I had the opportunity to attend my first Kuomboka ceremony.  Kuomboka is a traditional ceremony held in Western Province where the Lozi people move from the plains (which become flooded during the rainy season) to higher areas.  It's steeped in tradition and pretty amazing so I decided it was time for a return visit.  Since I wasn’t living in Mongu this time the logistics of getting to Western Province for the weekend proved more challenging.  Turns out Western Province is kinda far?  Well, me and 9 of my closest friends piled into 3 cars and left town on Friday afternoon in what would turn out to be another great African adventure.  In the first hour, one of the cars broke down and we had to push it to a nearby church and we then piled into the remaining 2 cars.  Delayed by a few hours, we proceeded to drive on some of the worst roads I’ve seen in a long time (I’m talking gigantic potholes which swallowed your entire car).  After almost 9 hours we made it to Mongu around midnight on Friday evening.  Don’t worry because we were still excited to wake up early to participate in the boat ride so that we could see the Nalikwanda depart on its journey across the floodplains.  It took some negotiating to find a boat to take all 10 of us and we still ended up with some random local kids (and apparently a “famous” rapper) on our small boat (which seemed to also have a slow leak and was just probably generally very unsafe) but we did manage to find the Nalikwanda which was pretty spectacular.  

We did make it back without our small boat tipping over or filling up with water so we celebrated by spending the afternoon eating some local cuisine at my favorite local hangout before setting out to see the Nalikwanda “dock” in what can only be described at organized chaos.  People hanging in trees, stampeding to catch a glimpse of the king, and a few random people falling into the water.  But we pulled it off and, man, did I really enjoy having a cold beer at the end of the day while watching the sun go down...I have to say that Mongu has some of the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen.

And luckily we only had to drive a short 9 hours home the next day. 



Monday, April 23, 2018

Oh, Zimbabwe.


Over the Easter holiday, we decided to take a quick trip to Zimbabwe.  We didn’t do much planning but thought we could get away with just winging it…I mean we have lived in Africa for a while, haven’t we?  Can't you just show up to another African country and figure things out?  

Well, turns out this is not always the best idea.  Things like visas and money and, well, generally figuring out the basics.  For example, we arrived to find all the ATMs were no longer working so we quickly had to run around and rent a tiny (green as you can see from the pictures) car so we wouldn’t have to deal with cash (since we had none) to get around.  I was nominated to drive since most rental cars in Africa are manual.  With my trusty navigator by my side (and only killing the car a couple of times since I was a bit out of practice with my manual driving) we made our way to our hotel which, despite getting rave reviews, turned out to be, well, not so amazing.  

In the end (after downing a few gin and tonics), we decided trips that aren't perfect are oftentimes the most memorable.  How can you forget falls in the mud, cancelled flights, running over rocks, mildew smelling rooms, and pangolins?  It's always an adventure in Africa which is why we love it!       

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Expat Living.


My youngest nephew reminded me that I have seen him exactly 3 times since he has been born.  He is now 7 years old.  I am one of the worst aunties ever.  But what made it even more terrible is that he was so amazing and sweet and loved me like I had never been gone during my most recent visit.  He even started plotting my return to America.  Asking his mom (my sister) why I didn’t live there and insisting they come to help me pack my things up in Africa so that I could move into the house next door in 2019.  Yes, I had a little bit of guilt.

This is what I miss about living in America.  I can’t say that I miss the intensity.  I got off the plane and immediately was yelled at for being in the wrong queue (after being told that I was in the right queue by a different person).   It’s hard to be back and not have an intense reaction (both good and bad) to everything.  Sometimes I would just exist in this state of shock and not be able to make a decision.  Or I had the opposite reaction and bought everything in sight.  I mean I really needed one thousand hair ties, right? 

I was home for 2 weeks and went to Colorado, Arizona, Louisiana and New York (2 times).  Since I've been back in Lusaka, people have been asking if I feel “rested.”  No, not really.  I feel sad that I didn’t get to see some friends and like I should have spent more time…with everyone.  Life as an expat is not always perfect but it does come with some pretty amazing benefits.  I will just have to remind myself of all the reasons why I love living here when I’m not as depressed and tired and don't miss my friends and family so much.  

I did post some pictures over there so take a look.  Love to everyone and miss you all!  

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Loving Lower Zam.

Let me list the things that I love about weekends in Lower Zam:
  • It’s not too far from Lusaka 
  • Eating lots of yummy food
  • Being near the water (swimming pools and river cruises)
  • Hanging out with friends
  • No cell phone reception
  • Hippos and elephants and crocs oh my
  • Drinking (responsibly of course) and not having to drive anywhere
  • Not worrying about what I look like and wearing yoga clothes all weekend
We celebrated a friend’s birthday this past weekend and it was really…great. 😊

Monday, January 8, 2018

Holidays in Zanzibar.

The last time I was in Zanzibar I was a Peace Corps volunteer.  Being a Peace Corps volunteer is fantastic in so many ways but it does typically mean you are always doing budget traveling which can be an adventure.  This time, I went to Zanzibar as a certified Public Health professional (aka, I had a job)!  Not that I didn’t have a fabulous time the last time I was in Zanzibar but it was just different.  This time, I flew to Zanziber (last time I took a ferry) and met up with friends from Mozambique.  We stayed in a lovely hotel (last time I shared a room with my Peace Corps friends…as you do when you are volunteers), played in the most amazing white sand beaches and blue water, and lounged around some pretty spectacular swimming pools.  We also ventured into Stone Town for a couple of days and went on a private spice tour (which I couldn’t afford last time), shopped in the streets and watched the sun set over the ocean at some amazing locations. 

The reality is that I do sort of miss my Peace Corps days.  The intensity of always trying to figure out how we were going to get to the next place and feeling like every day was an adventure.  But it’s also nice not to travel with that huge backpack or wake up with a nasty case of bedbugs.


Happy 2018 everyone!       

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Elephant Charge.

I recently participated in the 2017 Elephant Charge.  I didn’t know what I was getting into when my friend asked me to participate in this annual event that takes place to raise money for wildlife conservation here in Zambia.  I thought it would be a fun weekend get-away camping with friends as we drove around on some dirt roads in the bush.  Well, turns out the whole event is a bit more extreme than I anticipated (and it also turns out that I am much more suited for activities where my feet are planted firmly on the ground).  The objective is to drive the shortest distance through a set of checkpoints in a set amount of time and finish without tipping over your car, getting stuck, or dying (well, you get my point).  I'm happy to report our team did actually finish and win a small prize (we were a new team with the shortest distance).  After a bit of reflection (and being so thankful to be alive) I have to admit it was sorta fun.  

This whole event is done every year to raise money for wildlife conservation in Zambia so if you are interested in donating please visit the website (www.elephantcharge.org) and donate through our team (Hard Okra).  

And you can see some of our pics over there to the right...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Practicing Gratitude.

I feel really lucky that this is my life.  Not that I don’t have frustrations but when I step back and look at the opportunity I’ve been given, how can I be anything other than grateful?  Here are a few pictures from this weekend where we went to a lodge just a few hours away from Lusaka (www.royalzambezilodge.com) and saw some amazing animals, practiced a little yoga and spent lots of time relaxing.