I'm back in Chipata after two weeks (minus a brief intermission) in Chinjara Village. I still have yet to use google maps to find out exactly where in the world that is. Every time I ask the question, "Is Chinjara north, east, south, or west of Chipata?" I get a different answer. Some try and draw a compass in the red earth to illustrate it for me. North and south are sometimes depicted as neighbors on their dirt compasses and it takes some persuading to convince them that they are in fact opposite. When I ask "How far is Chinjara?" I get a range from 5 km to 45 km. Chinjara is the Atlantis of Zambian villages, people can take you there but the coordinates are unknown. I lived there for two weeks, and I honestly couldn't find my way back if I forgot my box of cookies - but I would try.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about how exactly I would tell the story of my last two week. Determining a way to decide how I would share everything I experienced while not being too overwhelming is almost impossible. I decided I can't compromise on sharing so I'm going to be overwhelming. As my fellow Zambia JF Steph would say, "Spencer, you’re just being a keener".
Over the next 2 weeks I will be writing a blog series. Every day I will post a different story about what I did, felt, and experienced that day exactly 2 weeks ago in Chinjara. My goal is to create a picture of rural Zambia, what it is like to live here as a Canadian, and the realities of farmers and agents – or at least the picture I saw – and hopefully with some continuity. They will be posted on the home page, and as well can be found under the "Stories from Chinjara" tab.
So that is my plan, and here is a brief summary. The 'inside cover' so to speak of what is to come.
10 Things I Learned in Rural Zambia In No Particular Order
- "It is Murphy's Law squared." Cat Denis, the JF program manager said this to us during pre-departure training. It couldn't be more true.
- If you thought rumors traveled fast in middle school, you haven't been to rural Zambia.
- Always, always, ALWAYS check your latrine for UFOs before you squat.
- Your best defense against deadly snakes is a pack of African children.
- Hallucinating and nightmares about food are a common occurrence. I swear I figured how to make McDonalds fries. At least at the time they tasted the same.
- The Arnold Schwarzenegger's of bicycles are found in Zambia. 60 years old and can carry 4 grown men.
- My ready access to a nice stack of good Canadian flap jacks has a positive correlation with a second power polynomial trend to my mood in the mornings.
- Everyone radiates happiness with beaming smiles, until you pull out a camera. Cameras, apparently, are machines best faced with a serious stare.
- Rubbing your knuckles raw doing laundry isn't enough to earn respect. Especially if your clothes still don't come out clean.
- In the battle between rooster and man, rooster always prevails - no matter how far you drive ear plugs into your skull. Cock-a-doodle-doing happening at dawn is also a myth. This usually happens at the convenient time of 3:30 am. Mental avian cocks (pun intended).
First couple posts of the series coming later today. I tried to start last night, but I am at the mercy of the internet gods.
From a sketchy mobile internet stick,