Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lower Zambezi, Love and Fishing.

Over this past weekend of love (Happy Valentine's Day everyone!), we decided to go fishing.   The Lower Zambezi National Park is situated on the banks of the Zambezi River in the southeastern part of Zambia opposite Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park.  It was magnificent.  I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been here before…it’s only about 3 hours away from Lusaka and it’s magical.  We really didn’t go much except sit in a boat and pretend to fish (nope, I didn’t catch any fish) but we did see hippos and elephants while looking at some of the most amazing scenery.  Now this is why you should all visit me here in Zambia.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

European cities and Ghanaian weddings.

Although the travel itinerary doesn’t really make sense, this year for the holidays I traveled to London, Barcelona and then back to West Africa.   While it was a whirlwind trip, I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing opportunity to spend some time exploring the new places in the world. 

I was able to travel with my friend from the states (who previously lived here in Zambia).  We spent quite a bit of time figuring out how we were going to coordinate travel and meet up at the same places/times since we had to essentially book our flights separately to travel to three different countries in 12 days.  This meant that we traveled together yet we never really traveled together.  We just kept leaving the same cities and meeting up in new ones. 

We originally met in London on New Year’s Eve.  I must admit that I was not prepared for the weather in London.  It was cold.  It doesn’t get that cold here in Zambia so I didn't come very prepared.  We did brave the weather though and rang in the New Year on the streets of London (okay, we were actually in a warm bar)!  Interestingly it didn’t look like anyone else was that cold?  Anyway, we only had a day in London so we spent New Year’s Day at the Tate Modern art museum and then walked along the Thames before hunkering down in a very warm and cozy restaurant.  The next day we left for what we thought would be warmer weather in Spain.  It wasn’t really.  Okay, it was warmer compared to London but we decided we just aren’t cut out for cold climate vacations.  That said, I loved Barcelona.  The city was beautiful (despite the cold) and I could have stayed there much longer (in the summer).  It’s got this great energy.  I loved the architecture, the restaurants, people, beaches.  Everything.    

After only a few short days we traveled back to my beloved Africa.  Our friend was getting married in Accra, Ghana, so we were able to attend the wedding as well as visit some of the sites around town.  Can you guess what our first stop was??   Yes, the beach!  I can’t tell you how happy we were to see sand and lay around on a beach…a proper vacation.  But we did manage to tear ourselves away from the beach to visit a city called Kumasi, the capital city of the Ashanti region which is an important historical center in Ghana.  So we got some culture too, don’t worry.  Our friend also had a traditional wedding ceremony where she wore a beautiful hand-woven kente cloth gown and looked amazing!  And the next day she had a church wedding where we danced to the electric slide at the reception!  And there’s this amazing video of a fight which broke out between two women when the bride tossed her flowers to the lovely awaiting single ladies.  Ahh, weddings.      
I had such an amazing holiday – I tried to capture with a few pictures so I hope you enjoy.  And…Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Zambia Celebrates...and Mourns.

In the course of a week here in Zambia we had a huge celebration…and a major loss.  Zambia first celebrated 50 years of Independence during which everyone came together to show their love and pride in their country.  I was quite impressed and was happy to be here during this "Golden Jubilee" celebration.  But, then, just a few days later the country lost their leader, President Michael Sata .  It’s been an interesting couple of weeks as the country has gone into national mourning.  Tomorrow will be a national holiday as the late President is buried and a mass is held in his honor.  But, again, the country has come together to honor the President in a peaceful way which is a strong testament to the character of the Zambian people.  

President Michael Sata.

Zambia celebrates 50 years of Independence.

Zambia mourns the loss of the President (ladies in black). 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cape Town and birthdays, birthdays.

I’m pretty lucky to live so close to an amazing city.  Cape Town, South Africa.  Well, okay, it’s not exactly close, close (I end up using this phrasing a lot now so forgive me).  For example, I will say, “I’m coming now, now.”  Which, in African terms, means I’m coming now…but not really.  So “close, close” means it’s close…but not really.  I had to take two flights to get there but it’s not like flying to America?  Anyway,  for my birthday all I wanted to do was spend the weekend in this amazing city with a couple of my lovely girlfriends.  Cape Town is one of those magical cities that has everything (if you’ve never been I’m telling you that you must visit).  It has mountains, the ocean, wine, shopping, penguins, beautiful gardens, amazing food...and so much more.  We spent the weekend hiking, drinking wine, going to the spa, shopping and generally just lounging around (not in that particular order).  It was an amazing weekend.  Thank you, thank you to my wonderful friends for allowing me to celebrate in style.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My So Far Life in Africa.

I never thought that I would be living away from the US (and in Africa??) for what will be almost 5 years now.  I sometimes think it’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done.  Other times it seems like the best thing.  But, really, I don't know if there is much difference?  
What this means for me: 
  • ·         My things have been in storage for an eternity. 
  • ·         I now drive on the ‘wrong side’ of the road like a pro.
  • ·         I have made and said goodbye to more friends than I care to think about.

Recently, I was offered the opportunity to stay on here in Zambia for a while longer...which I will do.
What this means for you:
  • ·         You better get on over here to visit me while you can…I know you have always wanted to go on an African safari or see the beautiful Victoria Falls?
  • ·         You can still send me a care package if you haven’t managed in the last 5 years!
  • ·         You are all loved and missed “too much” as we say here.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Peace Corps Love.

So I had the chance yet again to go back to visit my Peace Corps community.  When I left 2 years ago, I never thought that I would be back to visit every year.  I feel incredibly lucky that I have been given this opportunity to see the kids that I worked with (although they are all growing up!) and hug the women who were my family, and get up early to run in the quiet village while the sun rises over the beautiful Drakensburg mountains.  I think about my Peace Corps service and the quiet (and stressful, amazing, life-changing) living that I did there for 2 years.  I was telling someone about what it’s like going back and never in my lifetime will I get to experience being a “celebrity” but when I go back I definitely feel like a celebrity.  People embrace me in warm hugs (okay, they basically trample me) and smile like nothing I’ve ever seen before..my Peace Corps community will forever be a part of me.  

I helped with what is now an annual event of bringing a group of girls (all in Grade 11) from Johannesburg to live and help in the community where I stayed in Limpopo.  They get to see what I experienced (only that it’s a much shorter time period – a week isn’t enough time but at least it’s something).  And basically one of the girls summed up so very nicely one morning as we were talking.  Everyone is the same whether they grow up in a rural area or a big city or in Africa or in America.  Maybe we don’t all look or sound the same.  But we all just want to be happy and free.  To live in a world where we can have an education and play with friends and give and receive love.  I think that we sometimes believe that with poverty there is only sadness.  And I am not saying that it is easy or there aren’t difficulties that are maybe part of the reality that go along with living in rural area and we need to work to figure out a way forward for the many challenges that exist such as poor education systems and a lack of clean or available water and limited health services.  But there is also happiness there.  And the girls get to see that happiness…

I hope you can see some of that happiness in my pictures.  xoxo

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Road Trippin' in Northern Zambia.

There’s this wonderful long weekend in July where you can piece together an American holiday (umm, that would be the one you know about…the 4th of July) and then the ever popular Zambian holidays, Heroes Day and Unity Day.  I can’t really tell you what Heroes were celebrated on Heroes Day (nor can any Zambians).  And Unity Day?  I guess Unity Day is a day that people rest.  I can get into that…

Anyway, for this long weekend I headed north.  Having lived in the Western Province for my first year and then “the big city” this last year, I hadn't ventured too far into other parts of Zambia so I was eager to do some snooping around.  Two girlfriends and I had put together a 4 day travel adventure that would have us leaving Lusaka on Friday and returning the following week on Tuesday and driving about 10 hours north (northeast) of Lusaka.  We packed up the car and were ready for our adventure (if you would have seen how many bags of chips we packed you would have thought we were three 13 year old girls going to camp)?  But, really, who can go on a road trip without junk food? 

Anyway, the first night we stayed at our friend’s house (well, her grandmother’s house) in a village just outside of Mpika.  Unfortunately, we arrived quite late and were a bit zombie-like so didn’t get to enjoy much of the village hospitality.  We simply crawled under the blankets and passed out but not before enjoying the stars.  So many stars.  The next morning we had to get up early and get on the road to make it to our next destination for a guided tour.  That very loud rooster who would not quiet down came in handy in waking us up early the next morning.  It took us about 2 hours to drive to the Shiwangandu Manor 
(http://www.shiwangandu.com/).  It’s this strange British colonial house sitting in the middle of nowhere that has a rich history (you can read about the history on the website if you are interested) but basically this adventurous British man landed in Zambia looking for a place to settle as he was also trying to find the border between the Congo and Zambia.  We actually ended up staying at the Impandala farmhouse which sits on the property (about 3km away from the main house).  It was a beautiful old farmhouse with two spacious rooms and a huge kitchen where we could cook our own food (like we needed more food after eating all those chips…)!

There’s a natural hot springs not too far from the farmhouse where we spent the afternoon.  It was pretty spectacular to be able to bask in the warm water and sink your toes in the sand (and I’ll admit we were doing this while drinking a cold beer).  We then drove back to the old farmhouse where we slept almost 12 hours…it was probably the best night of sleep I have had in the last year.  Maybe it was the comfy bed or the quietness or the relaxing day.  Whatever it was…if I need to get a good night’s sleep again I’m definitely going back to the farmhouse.

The next morning we drove back towards Mpika and headed on a little dirt road to a place called Mutinondo (http://www.mutinondozambia.com/main_frame.htm).  It’s this little piece of heaven in the middle of nowhere.  It’s a wilderness area that has all kinds of outdoor activities - you can hike to 3 or 4 natural waterfalls, there are hills (called inselbergs) with natural granite which provided a kind of sparkly distraction.  But mostly there was lots of time to relax, read and sip wine from our balcony with an amazing view.

The only unfortunate part was the freezing cold temperatures at night.  Okay, they probably aren’t that cold but compared to the bliss that we usually live in here in Zambia it was quite cold.  We had to huddle around the fire at night and then quickly jump into bed around 8PM.  Oh, and then there were the bats living in the roof.  Not so pleasant when you have to crawl out of bed to use the outdoor toilet at night.  But, hey, this is Africa.

It was an amazing weekend and hopefully you will enjoy the pictures!  I keep trying to tell you all to get on over here for a visit.  And I promise not to take you to a place with bats…that’s optional on the African tour.