The best day hitching is still worse than having your own car

05:00 – My alarm goes off. I’m sleeping on the couch in Chris’ hut, and although I’ve got a blanket covering most of me and insect repellent slathered over much of the rest, I’m still getting bit. Oh well. It’s not like the alternative is significantly more comfortable: Chris and Emily, all combined 12 feet and four inches of them, are sharing Chris’ tiny single bed. I holler over at them to wake up, breaking through their earplugs.

06:15 – We trundle out the door and head to the road, a bit behind schedule. No matter; we’ve got the entire day to get to Kasama for the first leg of our trip to Lake Tanganyika.


06:25 – A sharply dressed man in a dark suit and tie picks us up in his clean, late-model compact car and ferries us the remaining kilometer to Musaila Junction. Because all traffic into and out of Luapula Province has to come through Musaila, the junction is synonymous with PCVs for traveling out of the province to other parts of the country.

06:28 – Just as we’re being dropped off, a nice-looking car speeds south. That could have been our lucky ticket. We hope it’s not going to turn out to be one of those hitching days.

07:30 – An hour has passed. Literally nothing has gone by that was traveling more than a few kilometers.

08:03 – Chris greets a few familiar faces as they pass through Musaila — fish farmers he works with. Only two kilometers away from his village, Musaila is his boma and all of the shopkeepers know him.

08:28 – Two hours have passed now. We’re starting to worry that we won’t get out of Musaila. The problem with living in the most rural part of Zambia is that there simply aren’t a lot of vehicles that come in and out of the entire province on any given day.

08:31 – A truck approaches: late-model Hilux (the Japanese version of the Tacoma). Em stands at the side of the road flagging it down. Inside are three Chinese guys. At first it doesn’t look like they’re going to stop, but we’re elated to see that they slow once they pass us. Asian expats are hit-or-miss for hitching because they don’t usually stop to pick up unkempt-looking white people. Then I realize, pleased, that they’ve stopped because they noticed me. One of the rare times in my life that my Asian appearance has been to my advantage (some others: making friends in science classes at UC Berkeley, convincing Zambian boys in the village that Jackie Chan is my uncle).


08:35 – We’re safely but uncomfortably wedged into the covered bed of the truck. I lounge gingerly against a sack of pineapples. The driver apologizes a third time for the dirty condition of the truck bed, and we reassure him for a third time that we’re thrilled and grateful for the ride. He generously tells us to help ourselves to the mound of groundnuts covering most of the bed.

08:42 – We’re going fast.

08:55 – We’re going really fast. Chris checks the driver’s console through the back truck window and reports that the needle is exceeding 140km/hr.

10:30 – The Chinese drop us off at Tute Junction, pump our hands enthusiastically, and wave as they drive away. They drove the past 260 kilometers in a blisteringly fast two hours — it’s as if we’d gotten an immediate hitch out of Musaila at 6:30 traveling at a normal speed. Spirits boosted, we walk over to the north side of the junction and begin hailing approaching cars.

10:47 – The good news: there’s substantially more traffic on the Great North Road than there was on the road to Luapula. The bad news: everything that comes is either unsuitable for hitching (taxis, semis) or refuses to stop for the tall blonde at the side of the road.


11:49 – Chris and Emily head over to a nearby shop to pick up some drinks. Murphy’s Law tells us that this is when our ride will come.

11:54 – Sure enough, a big bus barrels toward us, closely followed by two private vehicles. Undermanned, I run down the road flapping my arm frantically at each of them.

11:55 – The bus and one of the cars both stop, so I race back and forth collecting information. The bus is the Zambian government’s PostBus which delivers mail to the different provinces. I ask for the rate to Kasama, counter with an amount half the price quoted to me, then dart off to the next car. The man driving cheerfully tells me to jump in. Unfortunately he’s only going to Mkushi, just part of the way to Kasama.

11:57 – A handful of men who have been loitering nearby have taken up my cause and are arguing vociferously with the PostBus conductor. He calls me over and tells me that he’ll agree to my counteroffer. Chris and Emily, seeing the commotion, come running back. I quickly mouth the price and destination to them over the clamor of the men talking. They agree, and we gather up our bags and hurry onto the bus.

12:06 – The bus lurches off. We can’t find any open seats because there aren’t any. However, there are tons of kids. Children occupy the lowest rung of the ladder when it comes to bus seating, so a few of them are nudged over into seats already occupied by other kids and we slide wearily in. I put in my earbuds and the Zampop blaring over the speakers fades away.

14:15 – We arrive in Mpika, where the bus stops to unload mail and people at the post office. I move up one row and now have two seats to myself. And they recline. It’s the little things in life.

16:05 – The two small boys in the seat across from me keep stealing glances when they think I’m not looking. I wonder if I have something on my face.

17:02 – We arrive at a crowded market area. I scan the signs and see Kasama Milling. We’re here. I ask Chris where we’re supposed to get off and he says he doesn’t know. He asks Em and she shrugs. We decide to stay on the bus until everyone else gets off.


17:25 – Kasama is a big town. We’re still moving.

17:30 – Ah, now we’ve stopped. We disembark, deftly sidestep the raucous welcome line of taxi drivers, and trudge off toward Shoprite.

18:18 – Our grocery shopping done (Kasama Coffee!), we look for a restaurant. The first place we come to has no shwarma as advertised. The second has only a few tired samosas in the warming display on the counter. The security guard at a bank points vaguely down the road. We trudge off and are relieved to find an open restaurant serving nshima.

19:05 – Stuffed to the gills, we spill out into the parking lot and hail a taxi to take us to the Kasama provincial house.

19:25 – We arrive at the house. We’ll crash here tonight, then tomorrow morning we head up to Mbala and then on to Mpulungu, Zambia’s only port on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. Right now though, Chris and I spot an autographed poster of Taylor Swift and make Emily take a picture of us with it. Already feels like home.


Show me a Peace Corps volunteer

Written in collaboration with Hannah Harrison, a RAP 2014 volunteer, and cross-posted with her great blog, Hannah Goes Fishing. All credit goes to Hannah for the great blog idea!

Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you people of all colors, ages, and creeds. I’ll show you men and women and people who are sitting in between. I’ll show you daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, all of whom have left those families to find new ones across the world.

Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you someone who knows illness, misery, cold, heat, and crawling infestations of a thousand varieties. I’ll show you someone who has become intimate with infection, friendly with fungus, and can compare the viscosity of fecal matter over a meal. I’ll show you someone who gave up deodorant long ago, and subscribes to “it’s clean enough” more often than not. Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you someone who hand-scrubs their one collared shirt every night in order to be presentable before their tribal leadership, their classroom full of eager students, or their government official. I’ll show you someone who boils their water to bathe, filters it to drink, and sweats to haul it home.

Yes, it’s a cliche, but yes, it’s true — Peace Corps volunteers bathing in a stream

Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you hair that’s too long, a bike that’s too seldomly maintained, and an entire wardrobe that hasn’t been washed in weeks.

Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you someone who has faced fear, change, animosity, and misunderstanding. I’ll show you someone who looks at those obstacles as learning opportunities, even if it is just learning to cry at the end of the day for all that didn’t work.

Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you people driven to purpose, to change, to throwing themselves whole-heartedly into their work and living it out, each and every single day of their service. I’ll show you someone who is up at the crack of dawn to dig a fish pond and burns the candle late writing grants and letters home. I’ll show you someone who knows when, sometimes, it’s better to take the day off and play with the kids than to go to yet another meeting. I’ll show you someone who, when they do hold meetings, may wait for hours for no one to show up, but will keep showing up themselves in case someone finally does.


Emily assisting the facilitator during a session at Camp GLOW

Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you someone who knows that even the most impoverished person can be rich.

Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you someone who has tried nine different ways to cook an egg. Only one of them has little bits of shell still in it.

Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you someone who knows great frustration but also great love. I’ll show you a person who knows the greatest extent of hopelessness after another sleepless night next to their pit latrine, and I’ll show you the great depths of compassion when a friend brings medicine.

Have to make time for yoga, even on vacation

Perhaps not surprisingly, a lot of volunteers enjoy yoga

Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you ecstatic joy, bitter cynicism, and crushing despair. I’ll show you blind optimism, deadening restlessness, and persevering hope. Sometimes all in the same day.

Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you a 55-year-old divorced mother of three who has weathered some of life’s greatest challenges — getting married, raising children, reentering the workforce at the age of 40 — and who is now throwing herself head-first into another. I’ll show you a 22-year-old who just graduated from college last semester and has the world at his fingertips. I’ll show you a 65-year-old retired widower coming back for a third tour of Peace Corps, driven by a new chapter in life.

Show me a group of Peace Corps volunteers and I’ll show you someone who is Haitian American from Washington D.C., someone who is Japanese American from Hawaii, someone who is Pakistani American from the San Francisco Bay Area, someone who is Irish American from Georgia, someone who is Mexican American from Los Angeles, and someone who is Italian American from New Jersey. All of whom are called, without variation or discrimination, “white foreigner.”


Chantel, Michael, and Taj at the Mansa Camp GLOW in December 2013

Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you a sense of humor warped by 18 months’ worth of poop jokes and a vocabulary honed on a collection of novels large enough to make a lit major turn green with envy.

Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you a person who wants to change the world. I’ll show you a person who gets easily frustrated because she has high expectations for herself and doesn’t want to let her community down. I’ll show you a person who is idealistic and enthusiastic and dedicated and determined and maybe a little bit naive. I’ll show you a person who fails at changing the world. But I’ll show you a person who has come to realize just how much her world has changed her. And I’ll show you a world that is ever so slightly better for it.

Show me a Peace Corps volunteer and I’ll show you a citizen of the global community. Someone who can never go home again, or see the world as they did before their service. Someone who was once a child, staring at the finger pointing toward the sky. Now, they look and see the moon.

Kasanka National Park

Watching the bat migration at Kasanka National Park, November 2013


ZamTwitter, Month 11

Random news from my eleventh month of Peace Corps service, in 140 characters or less.


Checking out a fish farming youth group's ponds during the Second Site Visit I hosted at the beginning of April

March 10 – Celebrated the onset of my late twenties today at the house by doing my taxes, sipping a wine cooler, and watching Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.

March 13 – Am spending my evening sewing up holes in my mosquito net made by curious kittens while I was gone. Another wild Thursday night.

March 16 – Problem: I have no mirror to see my rapidly growing hair. Solution: the last 15 pictures on my phone are selfies. I’m not weird at all.


Finally got a haircut last week. Before...


...And after

March 18 – Had eight different meetings with officials, stopped to chat with three fish farmers, gave short speeches to two classrooms. Busy boma day.

March 19 – I love how the first steady rain we get in a week starts at 8pm. Decision time: stay in bed, or go put buckets out under the tin roof?

March 21 – Biked 36k into the bush today to visit a fish farmer’s ponds. Gorgeous. There’s a lot of Zambia I don’t get to see when I stick to the road.


Ba Mwengele showing off the effect of the recent rains on the path to his village of Mwengele (he's the headman, so he gets naming rights)

March 23 – Helping Sebastian build compost cribs this morning turned into swimming in the ponds, which turned into general laughter at how white I am.

March 25 – Today some kids showed me how to catch and eat big crickets. For some reason, I told them Americans eat butterflies. Cultural exchange fail.

March 27 – Just tried the tea wine I’ve been brewing for three weeks. It’s strong enough for one cup to knock out a medium-sized animal.

March 29 – Sitting with kids on the porch discussing Hobbes’ love life. The village gossip circuit will overload when 6 new white folks arrive Monday.


Mariah and Collin, Luapula's new married couple, and their honarary Nshinda family

March 30 – Spent four hours this morning cutting the grass around my house by hand. Today’s lesson: human lawnmowers get sore backs really quickly.

April 4 - Muzungus are on full display at Matt’s site visit. The kids haven’t seen a whole lot of people making coffee using an Aeropress before.


The look on Chungu's face is one of utter bafflement

April 7 – Our bus is delayed at a checkpoint for an hour because the driver isn’t in uniform, but it’s no problem for 9 guys to cram into a Corolla.

April 9 – I’ve given my last kitten away to Sebastian three times. All three times it escaped and found its way back. We may be doing something wrong.


With a little bit of luck, the kitten might just turn into something like this...creature we saw on the side of a store near Kanadi

Second site visit

I spent the past week hosting six trainees in the new RAP 2014 intake at my site in Nshinda. We netted ponds, conducted practice language interviews on the shore of Lake Mweru, and chucked Frisbees at with delighted schoolkids. Yesterday, Garrett, Allison, Mariah and Collin, Nicole, and Matt were dropped off on their individual site visits to see their own villages, huts, and communities for the first time. Welcome to Luapula Province, guys!

Americans eat butterflies?

It’s inyense season right now, which explains the little holes all over my front yard and the children scurrying everywhere with eyes peeled to the ground.

Let me back up. Inyense are big-ass crickets, about which I have surmised three things:

1. They appear to only be active for a short window of time

2. They must taste good, because the under-12 set treats them like the Holy Grail of foods, hunting them with the intensity and focus of chanterelle foragers or Black Friday shoppers

3. They look about like any typical garden-variety bug that has been magnified by five — that is to say, really creepy


Because the first thing I think when I see one of these guys staring back at me is that I want to munch on its mandibles

Yesterday morning a group of excited kids showed me how to catch and eat these crickets. First they locate a tunnel opening in the soft soil, then they dig a hole until they catch a glimpse of their prey inside its lair. Next a skinny arm with eagerly scrabbling fingers is thrust into the tunnel, rooting out the prehistoric-looking creature while trying to avoid its formidable jaws. Finally, they squeeze out the guts and roast the rest, legs and all, atop coals with a liberal sprinkling of salt.


Modrick, Mwape, and Chungu showing off their prized catches

Not to be outdone, and in a sudden burst of inspiration lapse of better judgment, I told them that people in America eat butterflies.

Okay, so I may have taken some creative liberties with that one. Not exactly my finest cultural exchange moment. Tack this on to the growing count of little white lies I’ve told my kids in the interest of entertainment (both theirs and mine — top on the list is “Matt knows karate”). But at least now they think they know why I run around in the bush waving my homemade butterfly net in the air, trying to catch colorful ichipempele.


Why yes, that is a butterfly net on top of my bike

Blame it on the malaria

I have some weird habits. I sequester myself inside my hut as soon as the sun sets. I put on thick wool socks with jeans after I bathe on evenings so hot and humid I could cut the air with a butter knife and slather it all over my body. (Oh wait, that’s sweat. On the other hand, my skin where not pockmarked by mosquito bites is looking fabulous.) And I crawl into bed at a ridiculously early hour to seek refuge under my mosquito net from flying harbingers of death. As if my neighbors needed more reason to think that their resident muzungu is an odd duck. All in the name of trying to avoid getting malaria.

The other day I met Sebastian at his ponds and my counterpart raised an eyebrow as he appraised my Chacos with calf-length socks. This is a very fashionable look in America, I told him. We joke that white people are more susceptible to getting bit by mosquitoes than Zambians because our light skin makes us easier for them to spot, like a giant illuminated landing strip with flashing lights that spell out “bite me.” The truth though is that malaria is an equal-opportunity disease, and Zambia is right smack in the middle of the region with the highest percentage of malaria deaths in the world.


Malaria is so ubiquitous here that in my village it’s used pretty much interchangeably with being sick in general. 15-year-old Emily stopped by this morning to take my daily produce order and when I asked her,“Ku ngangda kuli shani?” (how is your household?), she told me that her 2-year-old sister Frida was sick (Frida balalwala). I asked, “Balalwala nshi?” (What kind of sickness does she have?) Sure enough, Emily replied, “Malaria.” Little Frida toddled up a few seconds later with an impressively runny nose and toothy grin, waving a sticky paw at me; she may have had a cold, but it definitely wasn’t malaria.

Emily’s diagnosis was a slight exaggeration, but the pervasive prevalence of malaria in daily life here isn’t. An incredible four million people in Zambia are afflicted by malaria each year, with nearly 8,000 of them dying from this disease. Over half of these deaths are children under five years of age and many of the rest are pregnant mothers (20% of maternal mortality is attributed to malaria). In the United States, we simply don’t have anything remotely comparable in scale or parameters of devastation. This would be roughly equivalent to 100 million Americans contracting malaria every year with 200,000 deaths, 100,000 of the malaria victims being children under five. That would be more than sixty times the number of people who died on September 11, 2001. That would be five thousand times as many children as were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Now, I’m not comparing dying from malaria to being killed by terrorists. (For one thing, malaria deaths are largely preventable.) I’m just trying to illustrate the sheer scope of malaria’s influence in Zambia. If this large of a percentage of the United States’ population was dying from anything remotely fixable, you better believe we’d be doing everything we could to fix it.

As a global society, we have advanced technologically to the point where we now have prevention prophylaxis and treatment medicine which reduces the risk of dying from malaria to virtually nil. If it gets into the hands of the people who need it. Or, perhaps more accurately, if it gets into the hands of people who have the money to afford it and the education to understand its importance. Case in point: deaths caused by malaria have already been all but eliminated in developed nations. And right now, the grim fact is that whether or not a child will die from malaria largely hinges on the random lottery of where in the world she happens to be born and the color of her mother’s skin.


Everyone from the Zambian government to the U.S. government to NGOs to fellow Peace Corps volunteers are working to ensure that medicine is available in clinics, that communities are sensitized to what malaria really is and how to avoid getting it, and that people are educated on the importance of seeking appropriate treatment if they do contract it. March is Malaria Month in Peace Corps, and all across the world volunteers are working on malaria sensitization and education. Many are trying to educate people in their host countries; some are trying to educate people back home in their own country. Simply telling people about malaria may not sound like it would do much, but if the result of promoting this awareness is that one fewer Zambian thinks that you can get malaria from proximity to animals, drinking dirty water, or witchcraft, then it won’t have been for naught.

I’ve been learning a lot about malaria over the past year. Not only about the disease itself, but also about what its prevalence in the poorest countries on Earth means within the framework of our increasingly interconnected world. And simply by reading this and understanding that having been born in suburban America instead of in sub-Saharan Africa gives you the equivalent of a winning lottery ticket with a potential value as high as your life, now you are too.


Photo credit:

A day in town

05:59 – I wake up. No alarm clock. I’ve got this shiz down to a science.

06:45 – Out of bed and making coffee while bantering with the neighbor kids. This mostly involves them asking for coffee and me telling them it’ll stunt their growth.

07:52 – Sebastian comes by and we chat for about fifteen minutes. We’re biking into Nchelenge today. He tells me to give him twenty minutes so he can eat breakfast before we leave. Sebastian’s always late; I give him forty.

08:34 – Just as we begin to leave it starts to rain. Hard. We both quickly agree to wait until the rain stops, and I return to my hut to wait out the showers.

09:10 – The rain tapers off, and I’ve collected 15 liters in the past half hour. We’re good to go.


09:42 – Halfway to Nchelenge boma, Sebastian says he has to drop off money for a guy and we make a small detour. It’s not as shady as it sounds. The guy turns out to be the head teacher of Kambwali School, who is, I learn from a chart above his desk, the school’s 16th head teacher dating back to 1924. Before we leave, he insists that I greet the Grade 8 and Grade 9 classes next door. He enthusiastically ushers me into first one room and then the next, immediately stopping both classes in the middle of whatever they were doing. After I make each of my introductions, dozens of laughing and cheering teenagers rush up to shake my hand. So this is what it feels like to be a celebrity.

10:22 – We arrive in the boma and stop by the District Commissioner’s office. Our goal: to learn about opportunities to collaborate with district government programs on HIV/AIDS and malaria prevention. The DC isn’t in, so we end up speaking with the guy standing in for him. He talks for 15 minutes and says nothing helpful whatsoever.

10:50 – Two staffers are closing up the NZP+ office as we arrive, but when they see us coming they promptly unlock the door they just locked. They cheerfully explain that this HIV-positive living NGO organizes several support groups within rural communities. We exchange contact information, but when I tell them my name, I receive blank looks. I try again: “It’s Matt, short for Matthew, like Matthew in the Bible and Young, like young brother.” Ah, there are the relieved smiles and nods of comprehension. Works every time.

11:24 – The next door down is the deputy for the MP (Member of Parliament), who spots us leaving NZP+ and invites us in. He’s friends with Sebastian, so we oblige. We explain that we’re trying to get a new borehole drilled in our community because there is only one pump at the school and the wells have long gone dry, leaving many families without consistent access to clean water. It’s immediately clear that we are not using the proper channels for this type of grievance, but he enthusiastically writes us a handwritten note to give to the District Council anyway, the people who can actually help us. The note says, and I’m paraphrasing, but not by much, “Listen to these people.” The deputy MP flashes me a warm smile of gratitude as he tells me that he had a teacher from Cincinnati when he was a boy and “I loved that man.”


11:52 – Next stop: the Department of Fisheries (DoF) building. We greet the staff, then head into the regional PLARD coordinator’s office where Sebastian proceeds to jokingly but insistently cajole the man for various things for the next twenty minutes. PLARD is an NGO sponsored by Finland in partnership with DoF, and we’re told that a contingent of sponsors from Finland will be visiting soon. The coordinator tells us to keep our schedules open next Tuesday. Sebastian makes a crack about giving him advance warning to make sure that he’s in Nshinda, and not at his first wife’s home ten kilometers away. The PLARD guy is confused: you have two wives? Yep, Sebastian responds, grinning widely. But only one fish farm, I add helpfully. Sebastian cocks an eyebrow at me in mock protest. The PLARD guy sighs.

12:42 – We ride the three kilometers to Kashikishi, where Sebastian meets with the NatSafe bank manager to ask about the status of his CEEC loan. We had submitted a request two weeks ago to the director’s office in Lusaka for an exemption so that Sebastian can work on the new fish ponds without going through a contractor, but nothing has changed. He’s at an impasse: none of the contractors have adequate training or tools to properly facilitate fish pond construction, but the bank isn’t willing to release funds without the security of working through a licensed contractor. Sebastian absorbs this news calmly. Not for the first time, I find myself admiring his determination and persistency.

13:17 – I coast down to Old Market in order to buy onions, tomatoes, and a cabbage from the feisty bamayos at the vegetable stand. I tease them about their prices and they cackle, obligingly tossing in a few more mbasela (free) onions. I search for buns, but can’t find them anywhere.

14:12 – Still haven’t seen any buns as we arrive at the Development Aid Project for the People (DAPP) offices. We are mildly surprised to find looking back at us from across the desk only the third non-Peace Corps muzungu I’ve seen in Nchelenge in the past year. We chat a bit and it turns out that he’s on a short-term stint in Zambia from Europe, updating the NGO’s database systems in regional offices throughout the country. Sebastian and I explain that we’re advocating for a new borehole in our community, and we learn that DAPP is overseeing the drilling and installation of several new pumps in the district over the next few years. A possibility. The European man tells us the steps to take in order to fill out an application for the community requesting a borehole.


15:07 – We go to the District Council and again ask about boreholes. We’re directed to an office at the corner of the building. The man there consults a list on the bulletin board behind his desk and informs us that our village of Nalukoshi is 27th on the list of communities that will be receiving boreholes in the next phase of a project funded by JICA (a Japanese NGO). He reassures us that drilling will begin “any time after April.” I’m tempted to quip that this really narrows down the timeframe, but I hold my tongue. Finally we’ve hit pay dirt with some solid information. Now I just need to find some buns.

15:48 – We arrive at the Nchelenge World Vision office in order to wrap up some loose ends from a fish farming workshop last month. The food security coordinator we want to talk to isn’t there. We continue on.

16:17 – I finally find my buns at a small market near the barrier which marks the end (or beginning) of Nchelenge boma. They’re the good kind: soft and chewy and a little bit sweet. I haven’t eaten since breakfast, and I’m salivating. We start the journey home.

16:53 – Sebastian, laboring up the hill ahead of me, pulls over next to a couple of girls. He doesn’t know them, but one is holding a small turtle and he wants to ask them about it. We talk to the girls for a bit and find out that they’re not going to eat the fulwe, but instead are bringing it to a witch doctor who will use it for juju. Hmm.

17:25 – We crest the last small hill on the tarmac before reaching Nshinda and are treated to a magical view of the valley bathed in light from the sun dipping low on the horizon, with dark storm clouds blanketing the distance. I shout to Sebastian that we live in a beautiful place. He just smiles and shakes his head at me. Silly muzungu.