Got back to site today after spending six nights in Mansa. It was an eventful week:
-I weathered another adventure with transportation in Zambia. The list of things I’m learning to consider as normal includes flagging down a bus at 5:45am by flashing my headlamp through the dark at the oncoming high beams and hoping the vehicle stops. Also unsurprising now is the fact that it takes five hours to travel the 150 miles down to Mansa. And earlier today, the last leg of my trip back up to site involved sitting with eight other people in the open bed of a pickup truck which had POLICE stamped on the sides in big letters. I don’t know if the driver was actually a police officer, but the ride was cheap – I paid the equivalent of $2 to travel 35 kilometers – and it went so fast I swear I was airborne half the time.
-I used my first house days. Peace Corps Zambia volunteers get four days per month that they can spend at their provincial house, but these days can’t be used during Community Entry. The house had no running water and the internet wasn’t working, but I was still able to avail myself of such luxuries as watching movies and eating meat and milk products for the first time in a month and a half. I am more than a little lactose intolerant, and I was more than a little gassy. Worth it.
-I ran errands. Some were fun, like shopping – I found a sweet pair of striped, soft linen shorts for five kwacha from DAPP, Zambia’s most ubiquitous thrift store. Others were not so fun, like renewing my alien registration card so that I can continue to legally live in Zambia for two more months. After which point I’ll have to return to the immigration office and renew it again.
-I collected a month and a half’s worth of mail, receiving a delightful variety of assorted treats from my grandmother and an eclectic collection of items from my family (summer sausage, printed instructions for how to make wooden cell phone stands, corned beef hash, a copy of The Ugly American, Reese’s peanut butter cups, wireless bluetooth keyboards, underwear).
-I helped prepare for Camp ELITE, a week-long leadership camp for boys planned and run entirely by Peace Corps volunteers. However, after I became immobilized (see below), helping meant that I spent an entire morning copying a quiz and camp schedule onto butcher paper while engaged in a philosophical debate on the difference between cute and sexy.
-On Saturday I accidentally impaled myself on a thick piece of wire sticking up out of the ground. It went straight through my sandal and punctured the ball of my left foot, uncomfortably reminiscent of a pivotal moment in my childhood involving Jeremy stepping on a nail, a distressed parental figure looking for someone to blame, and me running away from home for four hours. Not to worry though! The wire only went a couple of centimeters into my foot, I’ve been religiously treating the wound with antiseptic solution and antibacterial cream the past few days, and I’ve already had my tetanus shot so I won’t get…tetanus. (Is that a thing one can get?)
Although my foot is sore and I’ve been hobbling around for the past few days, it’s healing quickly and with no complications so I’m expected by myself to make a full recovery. And I’ve got to admit that it’s pretty amusing using hand gestures and pantomime to explain to the bamayos how I got my injury. Maybe some of my kids will feel sorry for me and fetch my water.