a journal entry: 19-23 may 2009

the family arrived safe and sound and off to the village we went! we had a great few days staying at my house, although it was a bit challenging having so many people around when i’m so used to being on my own. but i managed to work through it!

i’ve also shared plenty of photos in my last post, so don’t miss those! and then we went on safari!!!!!!

19 may 2009: botswana!

WAY better day than yesterday! i’m on safari! in botswana! which is WAY nicer than zambia! zambia needs to get on its game. they could be making huge bank. HUGE if they quit planting maize and started game parks. anyway, i woke up in a better mood today. i have pushed what happened yesterday aside and have just enjoyed my day. cause i’m on SAFARI!

elephants, birds, hippos (one even charged at another boat!), kudu, impala, some eagles, crocs, warthogs, guinea fowl (although i don’t consider that a true ‘safari’ animal), giraffes, and i can’t even remember what else! SO many animals. no lions but its because i wanted to see them.

we started off on a river safari and then came to the lodge for lunch. then we went for the driving safari which was cooler. i got my own room and it faces the electric fence to keep the big game away. i’m going to enforce my village mentality. i’ll stay inside, they can stay outside. it’s pretty awesome when i was taking my shower (the best on this vacation!) and i heard elephants trumpeting! how cool is that!?!? AFRICA!!!!!!!!!

23 may 2009

wow. the fam is gone. it was kinda sad to leave and it was a quick goodbye since i left them to go and pay for an extra night at the travel agent. and then i had to convince the bush tracks guy to stay so i could go back with him to town. so it all happened in a huge big rush. but i managed to do it all. no i’m relaxing at jollyboy’s, drinking a beer and waiting for my bus at 1pm.

so what have we been doing for the last few days? nothing really. got back, had a place to stay at the sun. the president of zambia was there (only in africa!), then we chilled there for the rest of the vacation. i stayed in bed for most of the time. watched tv and enjoyed all of the pillows! i even took a bath! i got to watch a ton of terrible movies and even the new 90210, which was way better than i thought it would be.

we also went on a safari boat sunset thing. that was pretty cool although we didn’t see too much. then we went on a morning game drive in mosi-oa-tunya park. it was also pretty cool but they are doing major construction in the park, so no rhinos or elephants. the noise has scared them away. we did see 2 giraffes, buffalo and even wildebeests. and warthogs, monitor lizards, and birds.

we also saw a grave site from the old town. it was from the early 1900s, when workers were building the bridge. most of them died of black water fever (or malaria as they call it today). one guy died of a head injury from a falling rock. only in africa would you come across such a crazy site int he middle of a national park.

grandpa, grandma, mom and dad in front of victoria falls

then more eating and laying around. i seriously can’t event look at any more food without wanting to vomit. i’ve already had enough meat to last a life time.

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a mud hut tour

my mud hut is amazing.

it’s a simple little mud hut. made with dirt bricks and a grass thatch roof. it isn’t small by any means, there’s a double bed inside and it has 2 rooms. but i am allergic to all of it.

the nearest electricity is at a farmer’s place 12 miles away.

i have to bike under the power lines to get to school. it’s a daily reminder of the power imbalance in our world. he paid the government for access. and the villagers living underneath those lines can’t afford that luxury. they can barely afford dinner.

i own a small solar panel to i charge my phone with. if there isn’t sun and my phone is dead, i go to the neighbor’s. he connects my phone charger to a car battery. and i’m back in business!

there is also no running water.

i get my water from an open well. it’s close, only 50 yards from my front door. it’s like jack and jill went up the hill! and the water is clean. but i do filter my drinking water. in rainy season, i add chlorine drops, just in case.

one time, i almost fell in. the lesson? dry your soapy hands, then fetch water.

want to see my mud hut instead of read about it? well, you are in luck. i did a little video tour of my house and my porch!

enjoy!

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glorified rice, wait… what?

living in other countries, you start to question why you do things. people are curious about you. they ask why you do certain things. they wait for a logical explanation. but sometimes i don’t know! i just do. family tradition. habit. glorified rice is a perfect example.

my great-grandpa andrew and great-grandma mary on their wedding day in 1924.

i come from a long, and expansive, line of bohemians. they came from the czech republic and russia to the us in the 1800s and early 1900s.

settling in south dakota, they wanted a safe and prosperous life far from religious prosecution. south dakota also provided a huge amount of farmable land.

immigrants came in droves and brought their cooking traditions. they created new, americanized recipes. and the upper-midwest (south dakota, north dakota and minnesota) is home to a very unique type of food.

america knows our ‘salad.’ but not the green kind of salad…

dessert salad!

that’s right. people know us for our dessert salad.

dessert salad is an interesting blend. it’s sweet and savory. you make it in bulk quantities to share at large church and family gatherings. it usually includes marshmallows! every family has their own favorites, recipes and adaptations.

dessert salads are specific to the upper-midwest. the rural scandinavians and lutherans, make them. but no one knows where these recipes come from.

and i’m dying to find out?!??!!! why on earth are people making this? and serving it to other people?! do they think it tastes good? i’m not sure and still haven’t found the answer.

which brings me to, well, me…

growing up, i always cut the maraschino cherries and mandarin oranges for the glorified rice. cutting cherries is challenging. it stains your fingers red for days. scrubbing them doesn’t help, the red doesn’t come off. it’s not the easiest job in the kitchen. but it’s better than making the snowball cookies.

last christmas, alexa (my cousin) requested glorified rice. for some reason, my family LOVES glorified rice. i’m not a fan. but mom always mixes it up. and this year would be no different!

so what on earth is glorified rice?

glorified rice
  • cooked and cooled rice
  • cool-whip (or whipped cream)
  • pineapple tidbits
  • mandarin oranges
  • maraschino cherries

mix it all together, cool it down and enjoy!

i recently found my great-grandmother’s recipe for ‘glorified rice salad.’ it’s pretty spectacular. i have included it below so you can check it out for yourself. she even signed it!

my mom’s recipe adds cream cheese and doesn’t include marshmallows. mom actually made 2 batches this year, christmas and new year’s.

my family loves glorified rice. i still don’t get why. glorified rice is a bizarre and intriguing food. but the family tradition continues. and that’s the most important part.

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a journal entry: 6 march 2009

in my last journal entry, i learned that my host sister jacqueline was pregnant. and i had to leave my house in the village. it was tough. but then i went on vacation and forgot about my housing situation for a little while. in this journal entry, i’m now back in the village for a few days before going to lusaka, the capital city to see the peace corps doctors.

allergies

when i say i have bad allergies, it’s no joke. i have really serious environmental allergies. and it’s honestly a miracle that i survived peace corps zambia at all! i am allergic to everything that my house was made out of, literally. i am allergic to dirt, dust and grass. all things that are included in mud huts with grass thatch roofs!

as you can see in this post, i really thought i was going to be sent home because of my crazy awful out of control allergies! and while that would have been the easy option, and i did contemplate leaving many times, it wasn’t what i truly wanted.

so i stuck it out!

6 march 2009

wow! i haven’t journaled in what seems like forever. and i think that i will be retiring this journal after that!

came back from zanzibar, stayed in lusaka with joe and got to watch season 5 of the office! it was amazing and was really the bigger of the highlights of my trip. it’s SO good i can’t wait until i see the rest!

then i hosted 1st site visit! it was a lot of fun but they weren’t very talkative. plus i didn’t really want to be in the village, with jacqueline, and having to be fun and happy about being there. it sucked. i cried the first night in my bed. so i was really glad when deb came! then the second night i complained to her, and she complained to me, and we made it through.

on the last night of the site visit, we camped at my house in the village. we had a huge HUGE dinner, ate at my house with everyone, which was really nice. i really miss them. and celebrated my 1 year anniversary in zambia!

yup. i’ve been gone for one year. and it’s been up and down the whole time. although mostly ups than downs. but today it’s seeming more down. my allergies have been bad again. and they are making me go to lusaka on monday so they can see me on tuesday.

i’m really afraid that they are going to med sep (medically separate) me. and i don’t want that at all. even though i’m not liking the village all that much right now i don’t want to leave zambia. i’d rather stay in town as pcvl (peace corps volunteer leader) or move to livingstone and work as an extension volunteer. or even move to another country as a volunteer.

i just would be devastated if i had to be sent home because of my allergies.

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join me on my himalaya hiking adventure!

3 weeks to go…

t-minus 3 weeks until india/nepal departure.

i’m really excited to be going! i’ll get to spend time with friends. do a bit of archive work while at sangam too. eat tons of wada pav and pav bhaji and butter chicken. oh! and eat mangoes by the pool! all the amazingly fun things you do while at sangam!

i’m also going hiking. this is going to be an amazing opportunity to physically challenge myself. but i’m really lacking in the motivation to start training. i’m only slightly worried at this point because i still have 3 weeks to start getting ready. which seems like a lot of time (maybe it’s not, i’m not really sure).

i’ve been wearing my new shoes around the house. i figure this is the first step in training, just get my feet used to wearing shoes.

so now i need to get moving! wish me luck! or follow along on the journey and join my day hiker list!

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in photos: march and april 2009

i took SO many photos when i was in zambia. some of them bring back some amazing memories. some of them are extremely random. some of them are also just plain funny! i’ve collected my favorites from march and april of 2009 to share with you here!

enjoy!

i found this video of the kids at my house. they usually ran around and ‘sang’ and cooked. in this video, they are doing exactly that! they are roasting shelled peanuts with the last bits of my charcoal, probably from my breakfast. and winnie, the younger one, is telling patricia, the older one, that she needs more fire. enjoy:

this is scottie mixing cake batter for his birthday. i’m a little unsure of why i didn’t make him wash his hands…

peanut season!!! the best time of year in zambia! i would make fritters (simple flour batter, fried in oil) for breakfast. me and the little kids would then go and visit everyone in the fields to deliver the extra fritters. (and we’d also get fresh groundnuts to eat!!)

glow stick party!!!!!!!!!!!

this is joy, roasting peanuts. and yes, 100% there is fire underneath that pan.

the kids are pretending that they are cows!

there was a guava tree between my house. sitemba climbed up to get guavas and we all had a great snack!

what’s your favorite pic? share in the comments below!

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i hate shoes

i have the world’s flattest feet. and for the last 10 years, i’ve exclusively worn plastic flip flops from old navy. so i’m not sure which came first, my flat feet or the flip flops that cause flat feet. whichever way it was, i hate wearing shoes and the arch support that comes with that. it makes me feel confined and strapped in. i absolutely hate it.

unfortunately, since i live in a place with winter, you have to have shoes. so converse are my go-to shoes. flat, no arch support, but keep your toes warm when it’s cold and snowy! i’ve got a trusty pair i bought in india. and i recently found some vintage chuck taylors from the 80s that are a perfect fit!

but yesterday, my mom bought me HELLO KITTY converse!

so my converse collection is, clearly, complete. and i’m ready to go hiking!

what really started this shoe shopping adventure was to find a good pair of tennis shoes. because, in case you haven’t heard, i’m going on a himalaya hiking adventure!

i figure these will work. they are shoes, they are closed toe, and (since they are chuck’s) they provide ankle support-that’s a thing you need when you’re hiking, right? i figure they are perfect! right? RIGHT???!!!!!

well i’m not being allowed to hike in flip flops this trip (although i have plenty of other places!!!). my mom said she wouldn’t let me leave the country without a good pair of shoes. (and jen would probably agree!)

so i guess tennis shoes are needed.

i hate shoe shopping because shoes don’t feel good. i don’t like my feet caged into things. i like to feel the air and grass and world on my feet. and i HATE arch support. plus, my feet are huge and i can never find shoes that seem to fit perfectly right. and at this point in my life, i don’t even know what shoes should actually feel like when they are right. so it makes shoe shopping tough.

it took 3 stores and a lot of patience from my mom (and several helpful salespeople), but i found a pair of shoes that actually feel ok! which is super exciting, and makes me going on a hiking trip a bit more REAL!

but now comes the hard (and i can guarantee hilarious) part. i need to break these shoes in AND actually start training. because i still haven’t done that AT ALL! my feet hurt as i’m writing this and all i’m doing is wearing shoes at my desk!!!!!

so now you are really going to want to join me!

for any amount between us$10-us$30, you can join me as a day hiker and receive email updates about how things are going! and the very first email goes out TOMORROW!

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girl scouts + cookies = girl bosses

this last weekend, i bought 5 boxes of girl scout cookies. while this might not seem like an innovative activity for a woman who spent the majority of her life in girl scouts, i actually haven’t purchased girl scout cookies for YEARS. this is because i have 1 rule.

i only buy girl scout cookies from GIRLS.

not parents. not leaders. not from a facebook post from someone’s family member. i only buy girl scout cookies directly from girls. because when you see parents or leaders taking the lead and trying to make the sale, they’ve missed the whole point of why girl scouts sell girl scout cookies.

when i first joined girl scouts all those years ago (not sure of the exact number, but at least 25 years ago now), i remember the excitement of getting our order sheets in preparation for our girl scout cookie sale. we would learn all about the new cookies. memorize how much they where and when they would be arriving for delivery. we would even practice selling cookies to each other so we were ready to knock on doors and pitch to people we didn’t know.

we would set our troop goals. decide which summer camps and events we wanted to go to and how much we would need to earn so we could all participate. we would peruse through all the prize incentives and set our personal goals based on what prizes we really wanted.

and then we would SELL! we would go door to door, we would call our family members, we would set up cookie booths outside of stores. we would ask people, ‘do you want to buy some girl scout cookies?’ easy as that, but teaching a lifetime of lessons and skills.

this weekend, i was at the mall with my mom and the girl scouts had a booth set up and were selling girl scout cookies. i’ve seen this many times in previous years. but this year, a little daisy girl scout saw me, actually came up and asked if i wanted to buy girl scout cookies! i said YES and went over to learn more!

i asked her what her favorites were, if there were actually cookies in the giant display boxes they had set up (alas there was not), how much they were and which ones i should buy. her and her friend answered all of my questions, they got my $20 and i got 5 boxes of girl scout cookies!

selling girl scout cookies isn’t just about ‘making money.’ it’s a program. girl scouts are teaching entrepreneurship, business skills, social skills, financial literacy, confidence, goal setting, the list goes on and on and on!

when parents and leaders are selling girl scout cookies, the girls aren’t gaining these skills and learning from these experiences. this is why i don’t buy girl scout cookies from parents or leaders.

girl scouts PLUS cookies PRODUCES amazing girl bosses who can do anything! so go and buy some girl scout cookies from GIRLS!

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a journal entry: 23 jan 2009

this journal entry, 10 years and 1 month ago, is from the start of my toughest time in the village.

i had to move from my host family house in the village and go live at an office at the school for 3 months. why you may ask? allergies. i was on my 3rd or 4th month of having to take steroids to get my insane, out-of-control rainy season allergies under control. living in a mud hut, of which i am allergic to, was getting a bit much. so i had to move to and live in a cement brink, tin roof house until the rains stopped.

AND i found out that jacqueline, my 14 year old host sister, was pregnant.

right before i got in the truck, bawesley told me that jacqueline was 4 months pregnant. yup. my heart literally broke. i’m still so sad that this is happening to her at such a young age. and just as she is going into grade 9, the most important year in school. so after i found out, we (me and regina [peace corps volunteer leader]) left, moved my stuff to dapp where i am now living for the next 3 months (and trust me, i’m moving back to my host family).

then me, regina and josh went to crystal lodge and watched the inauguration of president obama. it was awesome! i really couldn’t believe how many people were there. i’m really excited to see what happens in the us because of this election.

then the next day i was supposed to go to livingstone for a changes2 workshop but i got sick – actually throwing up. i think it was from the food. but i didn’t go to livingstone and decided that i just wanted to get back to my village after being out for what seemed like forever (it was really only a week!).

i wanna go back home to my host family. i miss the kids and having them at my house all day. i cried last night and tonight. it’s depressing eating all alone when i could be sitting with my family and chatting and eating good food – not a warmed up can of beans (which is what i ate tonight).

and being by myself, i’ve had way too much time to think about things like jacqueline. she came to my new house today. she didn’t say anything but i felt really sad and couldn’t bring myself to talk to her about anything. so i gave her the math set that grade 9 students need and almost cried when i gave it to her. the chances are slim that she will complete grade 9, much less pass her exams. and now i won’t be able to escort her to kalomo high like she has been talking about ever since i got here.

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