Saturday, March 29, 2008

All eyes on Zimbabwe

Today Zimbabweans hit the voting stations...will Mugabe be re-elected? I think the outcome is not my preoccupation, I'm just worried about post-election violence. Zambia has been following the pre-election hullabaloo...we're all hoping for a peaceful process.

On a completely different note, I think I've decided this is my favourite time of year in Zam. It's post-rainy season (knock on wood)*grin*, & pre-cold season. The weather is perfect. It's warm enough for tanks & shorts/skirts, but cool enough to be comfortable in jeans. I had a brilliant walk to the Internet cafe, enjoying a breeze the whole way (except when the dust got all up in my face).

As soon as I finish a few more things for Uni- I'm off for an ice cream date- happy weekend!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Chipata trip

I had the most lovely time in Zambia's Eastern province last week. We snuck in a quick trip before the Easter weekend to see a couple of project sites in a town that borders Malawi. I had never been as far east as Chipata, & wanted to send a couple photos to share the beauty!

The first night we stayed in a government hotel that looked so colonial. I had a massive room with a huge balcony. Here is the view from that balcony.

And here's the view to the back- it's so gorgeous looking out to the hills with the mist on the tops*sigh*. (I also loved my morning jogs)!!

The second night we stayed in a hotel that was way on top of a hill. The view was incredible (a beauty that I can never really capture on camera), but this is the view from the bed. Wow.

That is Chipata down below, it was really a stunning place for a guest house. (And a great hill to conquer first thing in the morning)*grin*

I loved all the sunflowers in Eastern province. We had a 30km drive outside of Chipata town to see one of our projects. The school has an agricultural program so they use the sunflower oil in the kids' food. So lovely!

An afternoon for the ladies...

Well we had another successful ladies event last weekend (despite the fact that somebody actually invited a man- imagine)!
We enjoyed an afternoon of indulgence- wine, food, African entertainment, & good company.
Here are the last few women standing:-)

Kolo, Kupela, Me, Kujai & Iris

Me & the girls who are most like my family here!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Curious Kawalala

It was a bizarre weekend on the home front. It seems we have a neighbourhood thief who takes the strangest goods. (Kawalala is one of my favourite words in chiNyanja - it refers to a thief).
Saturday morning Alvin hung clothes on the clothes line, as per usual. When we arrived home later in the day & he brought in the dry clothes, he asked if I had removed some of the clothes pegs. It appears that, perhaps one of our neighbours’ maids actually took pegs off of our line (leaving t-shirts hanging by one peg) for their own purposes. Alvin & I laughed, thinking, what a strange thing to take. People who don’t have enough clothes pegs usually lay their clothes across shrubs, rather than taking other peoples’ pegs.

But the really laughable story comes on Sunday morning. I had another load of laundry to hang on the line, & when I came in I asked Alvin if he had moved our garbage bin. (Remember my post recording my excitement that I’ll no longer be burning my garbage…that my flatmates & I have invested in regular garbage pick-up?) Anyhoo, the bin Alvin & I bought mysteriously went missing…and it had to have been in between about 06h00 (when our night guard knocks off) & 06h20 when I awoke. The hilarious bit is that the kawalala even left with the garbage, imagine?!

Solutions: Alvin bought a new garbage bin…& yellow clothes pegs (a new colour in the yard)*laugh*

Sometimes it is not the end in itself that is important, but journey to get there

It’s been a while since a weekend spurred TWO posts for my blog…Here's the first one. Or maybe the second one depending on the order in which you will read them?

For those of you who are unaware, Saturday March 8th was International Women’s Day. I decided to support some of my friends who were helping to coordinate women’s day festivities by participating in their activities. The day was to start with a march at 08h00. I had invited a French friend (new to Lusaka) to join me. We arrived at Northmead ‘on the run’ & found not one woman or marching band. I called one of my friends & caught countless apologies “Ahh, we were supposed to send you a message, we forgot to tell you the starting venue has changed…just go to Police headquarters in town, you’ll find them there”.
Iris & I decide to take the thirty-minute walk & try to head them off as they head from town to the ‘freedom statue’. As we’re nearing town we find a female police officer & after exchanging International women’s day greetings, she explains that the ladies were actually marching from Longacres to the freedom statue. Refusing to admit defeat, we toe-heeled it over to the statue. By that time I was thinking I was going to be late for my 10h00 meeting. I needed to start heading in the direction of my meeting. So Iris & I agreed to the happy medium: we would walk into the marchers.
It actually turned out to be a beautiful morning. All of the different groups had different matching outfits, so it was like walking past a rainbow. People were singing & dancing & marching along. In the end both Iris & I agreed that it was better to be walking past them rather than with them, because we got to see everyone, rather than being sandwiched in between two groups.

Later that evening a colleague had planned a Ugandan dinner/ baby shower for another colleague’s wife. And what an evening we had. Alison went over the top with scrumptious Ugandan cuisine (she’s Ugandan), prizes & baby gifts. It was a special evening for the ladies, with some reflection on the days’ events. Alison was especially furious with the gallantry of the march; she noted that the budgets for participating in such events are exorbitant. She felt (as an African mother), that the money would be better spent decreasing maternal mortality in Zambia. It was a valid (& thought-provoking) argument from a woman who works closely with the Ministry of Health, with maternal mortality being the worst performing MDG (Millenium Development Goal) in Zambia.

Regardless of the politics behind it, there is something to be said for getting a group of women together. Whether celebrating woman-ness, or to discuss our challenges, there is merit in being together. I had a memorable International Women’s Day 2008 to be sure.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Outsmarting the Zambian sun

In preparation for the Youth Basketball League’s opening tournament (Saturday & Sunday March 1st & 2nd) I thought I had all of my “protection against the sun” methods in place. I had my SPF 15 sunblock, SPF 20 lipscreen, my baseball cap & my long sleeve ‘quick dry’ t-shirt.
As always, the sun got the last laugh. My ears are a fiery red, and the backs of my hands are still giving off heat. I was apprehensive to go out of the house at all on Sunday…but I had to submit an assignment on line, so was forced to be seen in public. The burns are not as bad as they could have been…but after 3.5 years I should have a foolproof plan for long hours in the sun*sigh*
Burning aside, I am still beaming from watching our little under 12 boys play. It was priceless…the most exciting bit being that they’re really quite skilled. This year the YBL has extended to include under 12s in the league!

Funnily enough, the BSA team that performed best was the newly formed under 12s*grin*. The under 18s lost both games (I’ll have to sit down with them & re-group), & the U15s fared very well, taking 2nd place. The girls were barred from playing because they need to prove to me that they’re ready. I’m glad I didn’t sign them up because not one of them pitched up to watch the games (I was disappointed). But I’ll be at the courts today & get excited over some small thing so that my inspiration will be back in line!
Here’s a photo of the U12s warming up…with the Youth Basketball League’s brand spanking new scoreboard. Pretty sweet if you ask me:-)

The only non-basketball related piece of news is that Alvin went to visit his grandmother & came back with bags of maize and chibwabwa (pumpkin leaves). I really wanted to prepare the chibwabwa (pronounced like those hideous little dogs- Chihuahua) but didn’t have much confidence in my abilities. I invited over one of my colleagues & we had a blast preparing a hearty Zambian meal. Delicious!
Note that Zambian cook with a fair lot of o-i-l…YIPE.

Oh, I also had a haircut last night much better than the last one I had in Long acres market*hahah*. I decided to pose by the bike…I never posted a photo of the 'new bike' (we've had it since before the India trip). Somehow Alvin managed a swap of sorts, & got this brand spanking new bike for the same price as the second-hand one that had the problem with the pedal (like every time I took it for a ride the whole arm of the pedal would fall off). So this is the beauty I’ll be cruising on…I wanted to go for a ride this morning but slept clear through my alarm. I’ve got a date tomorrow morning though…I’ll let ya’ll know how that goes*smile*. And for those friends of mine who are really into bikes…this is like the Cadillac of bikes in Lusaka, & yes, it’s about the equivalent of a cheap Canadian Tire bike. But for all it’s worth, I couldn’t be happier.