Ntumbacusi Falls

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One of the lower stretches of Ntumbacusi Falls

Zambia’s Independence Day is October 24. This is also the day that Zambians tell you the rains start. Every year. According to older Peace Corps volunteers, this is hardly ever the actual day of the wet season’s first rain. No matter, everybody still predicts that the rains will come on the 24th. Something like the Zambian version of Groundhog Day.

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My trusty steed and I

Rain or no rain, I decided to celebrate by going camping at Ntumbacusi Falls with several other volunteers. This gorgeous series of waterfalls is a favorite camping spot among Luapula volunteers and is only 55 kilometers away from Nshinda. Within easy biking distance! I thought happily. Later: I forgot about the hills, I remembered ruefully.

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Looking downstream below the falls

Oh well. On the 24th I started biking at 5:30am and arrived at the falls three and a half hours (and a couple of burning calves) later none the worse for wear. We had a great time swimming and exploring the various falls and eating tons of food over the next two days, and then yesterday morning I rode back shaving 40 minutes off my time from Thursday.

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It's caterpillar season; these guys were everywhere

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The bamayos will soon start selling these on the side of the road as relish

A fun excursion and a welcome respite from this heat. I’m still waiting for that Independence Day rain.

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At the big falls

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Pictures from a site visit

Last week Emi hosted the CHIP ’13 Second Site Visit at her village in Kafutuma, so I got a ride up with the Cruiser to hang out with the soon-to-be newest volunteers in Luapula Province and to eat free food. I mean, to help host.

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Trainees Tom and Pete are going to be Community Health Improvement volunteers, so after their language lessons in the mornings they had various programs in the community scattered throughout the week which Emi had planned for them. Meanwhile, Eddie (RAP ’11) and I fetched water, washed dishes, and shot the breeze.

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On Wednesday we had a cooking demonstration with some of the village bamayos. By cooking demonstration I mean a six-course meal which took three hours to prepare, at the end of which one of us was a tad bit grumpy because the bamayos were bossing her around and then made off with several of her bowls and utensils as soon as the meal was finished.

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Before we cooked, we had to kill the rooster. And before we killed the rooster, Emi and I had to scour the village for an hour and a half looking for someone to sell us said rooster. Along the way we were taken to see a boy with a very infected leg who doesn’t have long to live (one of the uncomfortable realities of living in a poor, developing country with precious few resources in the way of health care), and shook off a very drunk headman whose heavy slur I interpreted to be a marriage proposal. I’m still not sure which of us he wanted to marry, the vivacious Asian American volunteer who has been called beautiful by Zambians up and down the district, or Emi.

We finally located a chicken and spent fifteen minutes watching a pack of kids corral the unlucky bird. The rooster gave a valiant effort, but ultimately succumbed to the force of sheer numbers on the side of its pursuers.

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On Friday we left Emi’s site and headed down to camp at Ntumbacusi Falls. This was a two-part exercise designed to give the trainees a taste of Zambian public transportation (colorful and crowded, lots of singing along with Zampop) and Zambian waterfalls (beautiful and secluded, lots of singing along with Taylor Swift).

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Pete and Tom were picked up on Saturday morning and taken to their individual sites, and we were joined by Caitlyn (RED ’12, who I visited when she hosted one of the RED ’13 SSVs a few weeks ago) and her friend Eva. We spent the rest of the weekend swimming and reading and relaxing, a nice way to mark the end of my Community Entry.

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