a journal entry: 7 nov 2009

where did october go? seriously. well i made it 3 weeks in the village and am now back at it. i was in town to celebrate my birthday. it was good. i got to talk to mom and we ate pizza. then i just hung around because i couldn’t bring myself to go back to the village. but i had a good relaxing time so it was ok.

we had a HUGE goat for my birthday in the village. we all ate SO much. bamary made me cake and corn bread and jacqueline made goat pies. it was all delicious! it made me really sad that i will have to leave my second family. but it was also really happy and exciting. i also invited binashy and she brought me 5 eggs. which i was very excited about. all in all, a pretty great 25th birthday.

now i’m sweating waiting for the rain to come. it keeps thundering. and it’s humid. yesterday it rained on transport coming back home. it’s not a comforting thing when you look up and see lightning when you are driving in the middle of nowhere while riding in the back of a very metal truck. but it stopped raining before the mission and i didn’t have to walk home in the rain. which was really good!

me and kim went to tim’s village. he knows tonga! man. it was incredible. and his site is beautiful. really hilly, which proved to me how out of shape i am. but it was fun. we ate a lot of nshima and tim bought a turkey that we ate every meal. it was fun!!

for just $10, you can join SUMMER OF YOGA! i look forward to seeing you on the mat!

a journal entry: 3 oct 2009

here’s a short journal entry from 10 years ago. not much was happening. it was raining, a lot. and, thankfully, i had an awesome trip back to the village! while this doesn’t sound like a major accomplishment, getting back to your house before sunset always marked a ‘good transport day’ in zambia!

just another rainy saturday morning. wait. what? yeah. it’s raining. again.

i haven’t written in a really long time. i’ve been writing a few blogs instead. september was crazy. got malaria. and someone tried to chase the head and deputy head teachers from school. and it rained. crazy. but now it’s october, which is even crazier!

yesterday i came back to the village after being in town for the week. i had the house mostly to myself, which i LOVE. before that, kim came to hang out at my house.

back to yesterday, it was an AWESOME day! spar had strawberries. that’s right! STRAWBERRIES! i had pancakes and strawberries for breakfast. a chicken wrap for lunch. and i got home before the sunset. all in all, an AWESOME day! at least in zambia it is!

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Black Water Fever: My good story to tell

exactly 10 years ago today, i wrote and posted this blog post about me getting malaria for the very first time! i don’t recommend getting malaria, it sucks, a lot. but at least with malaria, you can take some pills that will make you feel better and increase your chances of survival. (dengue-not so much… but that’s a story for another day!)

enjoy reading all about my ‘good story to tell!’

When I lived in India I quit taking my malaria prophylaxis. We had it good. Everything would get sprayed once a week and I slept in my mosquito net every night. Wait. I take that back. Sometimes on the really hot nights I would flip the net off of the bed because I thought somehow the mesh of the mosquito net was blocking the cool air from getting to me. Anyway. I never really got bite so I never worried about getting malaria. Thus I quit taking my medicine. Like an idiot.

Fast forward 4 months.

After 2 days in Zambia, I was scared into religiously taking my malaria prophylaxis. Not only is malaria a terrible disease where blood parasites are put into your body by mosquitoes, but over 1 million people die every year from the disease. Along with headache, fever, chills, body aches and shakes, you feel like you are going to die. I wanted nothing to do with it. I hate being sick. I’m a firm believer in the flu shot. There is nothing I hate more in this world than throwing up. That was enough incentive for me to take my medicine everyday.

Unfortunately, you can still get malaria even if you take a prophylaxis. It just won’t be as severe because the parasite count isn’t allowed to reach dangerously high levels. But I wasn’t going to risk it, I was going to do everything humanly possible to NOT get malaria. I take my medicine everyday. Everyday.

I also had 2 other methods to protect myself against malaria.

1) The power of positive thinking (coupled with getting into my mosquito net before 9pm every night)

If you say you won’t get malaria, you won’t get malaria. It’s like when I was in school and I would say, “Uuugggh. I’m going to fail this test.” Then my dad would say, “Well, of course, you are going to fail it if you say you are going to fail it.” I’m sending positive anti-malarial vibes out in to the universe! Plus female mosquitoes are the ones that carry the malaria parasites and they only come out between the hours of 9pm and 6am. Fun fact: they are also silent. The male mosquitoes are the ones that buzz.

And 2) The Kim Burns Anti-Malarial Treatment

Drink a gin and tonic everyday. Why g&t’s?

History.

When the Europeans, like David Livingstone, were wandering around Africa ‘discovering’ things, they were dying of Black Water Fever (malaria). The only thing the explorers found that would work against the Fever was taking quinine. Which is found in tonic water. And you can’t have tonic without the gin!

I was adhering to all 3 of these things and then I woke up one morning in town, with mosquito bites all over my hands and arms. Fatal step #1. I forgot to close the mosquito net before I went to bed. Fatal step #2. I said jokingly to Kim, “I’ll probably be back in town in 7-10 days with malaria!”

So I headed back to the village. I was hanging out getting back into the swing of things, and cleaning my house. School started and I was feeling perfectly fine. Then I went to bed. It is hot season so I took the blankets off my bed already. I was cold. I had to dig out my blankets and a sweatshirt. Then as I was trying to fall asleep I got the chills and shakes. This is when I thought something was up. I fell asleep hoping it would go away. No such luck. I woke up the next morning sweating beyond belief. And my head was killing me. I got up to pee and had to come back in my house to sit down and rest. I dug out the extra strength ibuprofen and took 2 to start. I found the strength to go and get fire so I could make coffee and told my bamaama that I thought I was getting sick. I told her my symptoms. She immediately said it was probably malaria.

Of course.

Malaria.

Then things got bad and a little fuzzy. The high fever, chills, the confusion. I finally started to write down what time I took what medicines because I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t eat anything but my bamaama forced me to eat nshima, which cures everything, as well as being the staple food of Zambia. My family finally insisted I go to the clinic. Zambians hate seeing me sick so instead of putting up a fight, I went with my sister Sandra. The clinical officer was pretty sure it was malaria but didn’t have the reagents to test my blood to make a positive diagnosis. I went back home and called Peace Corps Medical. Yup. It sounds like malaria. Start taking Coartem (it gets rid of the parasite), go to town, and take the blood test.

I went to town the next day and what a ride that was. It was the second worst transport ride of my life, and that is saying something because I’ve have some pretty awful rides. It seemed to take forever to get there but I finally made it. I took the blood test. It came back negative but that is normal because I was taking the prophylaxis and I already started the Coartem. No doubt about it. I had malaria.

It was like the worst flu you have every had multiplied by a million.

But I survived and was back home less than a week later.

I was at school talking to some of the teachers about it. They asked me if it was my first time having malaria. I told them yes. To which they said, “At least you have a good story to tell when people ask you about living in Africa.”

I will have malaria parasites living in my liver for the rest of my life forever making me more susceptible to getting malaria. But at least I have a good story to tell?

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in photos: september 2009

a few of my fav pics from september 2009!

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a journal entry: 17 august 2009

today the french press died and i (well, had) no reason to live. until i texted brittany and she said that i could have her’s. i owe her my life. only someone with a serious coffee addiction would cry over a broken french press (which i did!). so i ended up that joy of all people broke it. on accident. it was the worse sound i think i have ever heard in my whole entire life. and it’s not just cracked but broken. beyond repair. but for some reason i can’t even throw it down the pit latrine. it’s sitting on my table just looking sad and lonely and broken. needless to say, i had quite the day, all before noon.

so as soon as that happened, i decided i needed to get to town. and as soon as possible. so i’m getting the hell outta dodge tomorrow. i knew i should have left today but i wanted to try and stay here a long time. well screw that. next time i get that feeling, i’m outta here.

no goats for sale anywhere around here. which is unfortunate cause i just want some meat! but sandra found pig meat at mr. ny’onge’s place. so at least one part of the day is going to be ok. here’s to not getting worms!

the lions must be gone because i haven’t heard one thing about them since that day on the radio. which is too bad but i guess good for people. just bad for my entertainment levels.

well the frogs are back. bawesley says it will probably rain some time next month. then the rains will start in november. maybe even october. i just hope i don’t get sick and sent home early. i’m seeing this thing to the end!

alright. i think i might have a plan. so i’m going to stop stressing about what i’m going to do after peace corps. i should still be enjoying my experience and not looking to what is next. plus i want to relax and de-stress from zambia. then i can figure what i want from life. or what to do next, at least. i was just thinking that maybe i should at least apply for 3rd year in another country. just to see where it would get me. i would get to go home for a while in-between. i’m not sure. i wish someone would just tell me what to do. too bad it isn’t all that easy.

the other day we had the worst (and i mean WORST) relish ever! some weed named black jack, and it tasted like you would imagine a weed would taste like. it was terrible. so i choked it down. joy took one bite and started yelling that he wanted chicken!

joy ignored me the whole day. he knew i was mad he broke my french press. he came back to my house after i was mostly finished crying and i told him to go outside. then he stood on the outside of my porch and just looked sad. then shimbi came and got him. and he didn’t come back all day. but i told everyone that i had a bad day and that my french press broke. so i don’t feel like i have to hide it. but i still can’t bring myself to chuck it down the pit latrine. where things go that i don’t want to see again. it’s just too sad.

guinea fowl roosting for the night

we had 3 nice days of weather but now we are back to the cold. i wanted to immediately switch to hot season! i busted out a tank top and everything. the incessant wind was gone and it was actually hot in the sun. i hate the crazy annoying wind of cold season. you can’t cook without dirt getting in your food. no matter where you cook or how hard you try. but it’s my last cold season in zam-land so i only have to suffer a few more weeks!

sandra and i are going to town tomorrow. i like going to town with sandra cause then i have someone to talk to when i walk to the mission. and someone to wait with! and i’m finally excited to go to town! yesss!!!!

oh and the pig meat was DELICIOUS!

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a journal entry: 10 august 2009

my friend kelsey has been saying recently, ‘what even is your life?!’ and this journal entry couldn’t highlight the hilarity of my life any better than causally saying i almost feel into a well (which is what prompted the comment!)! lions and fires and an extreme casual-ness about both! enjoy!

lions are on the loose! for real. so they were talking about a lioness and cub that were seen around batoka. which is a little outta choma. so i was immediately scared/excited. lions man! then i went to fetch water and told bamary and jacqueline about it. that is when things officially got scary. something was eating cows and only leaving bones in katete, which is only a village over from me. like maybe 7 km. which is nothing for a lion.

so the lions – well one at least – have gotten out of kafue park.

the radio said that zawa (zambian wildlife authority) can’t find it, them. so i’m on lion alert. i think i would leave if i ever saw a lion here. elephants i could handle but a lion would be way too scary. too much threat of actual death. lions are predators! elephants would just stand there and look at you. and you could probably back up slowly and get away… a lion would chase you, kill you and eat you leaving only a few bones. if you were lucky.

i’m hoping that what the safari guy said was true, if you want to see it, you won’t. because, let’s be honest, it would be kickass to see a lion in the village. scary. but kickass.

so i met the zambian version of those crazy kennedy cousin sisters. at least i’m pretty sure they are kennedy. except this was a mother/daughter paid. the daughter is 79 years old. the mother is 93 years old, at least. she actually doesn’t know how old she is. all she knows is that she was born the same year that the railroads were built in zambia. and she said that she doesn’t know how old she is because she is uneducated. it struck me when she said that – that education is something so powerful that even knowing something as simple as your own birthday is considered ‘education.’

but these 2 ladies were hilarious! the daughter came to ask if i would come and take their picture. she has ovarian cancer (that’s my guess – they call it ‘cancer of the female parts’) and is going to lusaka next week for a follow up. so yesterday she came to collect me, and jacqueline as the translator. so we all walked over and as soon as we showed up it was hilarious!

jacqueline was laughing the whole time and was translating for me. i guess as soon as we walked up the mother refused to get up because she didn’t want the white girl to see her because she was old and not beautiful. and in the pictures, the mother didn’t even want to stand because she was in a rubbish chitenge and her daughter was in a nice long skirt. i couldn’t even understand one thing being said but the body language was awesome!

so i promised to get the pictures to them. then for my payment, i got sweet potatoes! amazing!! jacqueline kept them for me and will be keeping them to cook for me every day until they are gone. even better!

fire went sweeping through the farm today. i was reading and heard that whoosing and crackle of a large fire. stood up and saw a wall of fire behind the lemon trees. oh zambia!

christa social media authenticity post

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a journal entry: 8 august 2009

still don’t know what i’m going to do with my life. i thought going back to america would help but it made things even more fuzzy. i think about it all the time. august was the random month i had chosen to make my decision. and i’m nowhere near close to any sort of decision.

a chicken has been laying eggs in the porch. there was one last week and today there was 4! i had to have nchimunya come and scare the chicken away because it was on my charcoal. 😉

it is starting to warm up. bit by bit! and school is out so i have nothing to do! well, not really nothing. i think i’m going to start my garden. and in september we are going to have a permaculture garden workshop in choma. i’m hoping it will be successful. i got everyone 3 days for it!

nchimunya, bamaama and sonia in the garden!

last night i came back with eliot. he had to go and get poles so i had the whole front seat to myself. it was nice. until we got stuck right outside the mission. the guys had to unload half the poles, then eliot got unstuck, then we had to load all the poles back in. well i didn’t, but you get the idea. so i got home late but i didn’t miss dinner. i did break 4 of my 10 eggs so we had eggs for an extra relish.

i’m trying to decide where i want to go for my birthday. i have no idea. none whatsoever…

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a journal entry: 29 july 2009

before you read my journal entry from 10 years ago, i would suggest reading my blog post from 10 years ago! it really explains what happened and why i was ready to stay in zambia. check it out here!

so i made it outta my depression! who knew that if you actually left your house and got to work, things would actually improve.

more things to note. they got rid of dakota. sold him for 2 new dogs that will be coming in 2 weeks. it is kinda sad, but one less thing for me to yell at when i’m cooking. saw a huge snake on the way to school yesterday. i let it go on its way before i kept going on the path. i’m not the only white person in the village tonight. a group of mission kids from holland are here. they came to the clinic. it’s always weird having other foreigners here. i’m not sure why. i feel like i have to explain everything. but whatever. i’m sure they will have an eye opening experience. one girl said she was 17. i could only imagine how freaked out i’d be if i came here when i was 17. although i was 18 when i went to haiti, so i bet i would have been ok.

i’ve been helping at the clinic a lot the last few days. its been busy but fun. i’ve been entering patient information from their notebooks (or charts if we were in america) into the clinic book. i’ve also been handing out charts and helping dispense medication. basically all the stuff that they would never let you do in america unless you had some sort of specialized degree. but i’ve been having a lot of fun doing it.

not sure what we were baking here, but definitely not the cake and brownies…

today we are celebrating turnwell’s birthday. we celebrated bawesley’s birthday on monday. we made brownies and chocolate cake. the cake was a bit underdone but still pretty good. the brownies were amazing!

party this weekend! we are celebrating the departure of kersi, dre and tati. i don’t know if celebrating is the best word, but you know what i mean. pizza and apple pie are on the menu. i’m kinda excited about the apple pie. i haven’t made any since i’ve been here. i’m sure it will turn out alright.

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a journal entry: 27 july 2009

things were not always the greatest in the village. and after coming back from america? they were pretty dark, but don’t worry, things do get better!

exactly one month since i wrote in this journal. i wrote in my red india journal on my trip home. it was nice to be back but now i want to go back for good. i’m hating it here. yesterday it hit me. i should just go home. so i’m giving it 2 weeks. then things should be way better or way worse. then i feel like i can make a for sure decision about if i stay here or not.

well one good thing happened (well, 2, depending on how you look at it). so eliot was supposed to go and take a book back for me the last time i was on transport and yesterday the guy who the book belongs to came looking fro it. eliot never gave it to him. so i’ve been a bit stressed about that but bawesley just told me that eliot was going to ‘prepare it and let us know.’ whatever that means. hopefully it means it is going to be returned. and happy number 2? i just made myself another gin and juice!

so i think the main problem is what i always thought was fake. a quarter life crisis. i’m so listless and i don’t feel like i have any sort of direction at all. it doesn’t help that i sorta got in trouble for only having 3 activities on my last quarterly report. and nothing seems to be going my way. i’m way too negative to even write. so i’ll just go back to reading and trying to forget that i’m in zambia.

things of note: the baby’s name is christa. grandpa is doing better. joy speaks way more chitonga that me now. and i’m too depressed to think of other things i wanted to write.

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in photos: july and august 2009

i went home for a visit for the 4th of july. these are the great sioux falls!
jacqueline and her new baby, named christa!
the kids licking the bowl after making chocolate cake!
tree pose!
more licking of spoons after baking!
went on a community school visit at siambele church of christ.
and the compulsory group photo after school!

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