The Kinky Green

Semi-lost in the Bush After Dark

Posted in Peace Corps Adventures by Joy on February 27, 2013
Tags: , ,

I kept telling people I was afraid of getting lost in the bush. Amai helpfully said, “You can’t get lost here.” She was right, of course. All the roads & paths lead back to one another, somehow. Or they dead-end at someone’s hut who can point you on your way.
My lift home tonight blew a tire on “the bad road,” so I got a ride from a driver who kept trying to make turns where he shouldn’t, despite my directions. Turned out fine, though. We dead-ended at someone’s hut who was happy to point the way.


Dzina langa ndine Joy Douglas. Ndine waku America

Posted in peace corps adventure by Joy on February 24, 2013

“Me, my name is, I am Joy. I come from America.”

Today I joined the Lungu family, my homestay hosts, at church. A Mai said it started at 10, so sure enough we left about 10 after. As we were nearing the church, a girl walking with us asked me the time. “10:42,” I responded. “What time does church begin?”

“10 hours.”

The choir was singing when we got there, and folks continued to trickle in after us. Aside from the lax time frame, the service was very much like what I’ve experienced in the US.

Happy V-Day… from Zambia!

Posted in Peace Corps Adventures by Joy on February 14, 2013

I made it, y’all!

Actually, we’ve been in Zambia for about 31 hours now. So far, it’s fantastic! We’re The Barn, at a nice motel near the capital (Lusaka) for the next several days doing some pre-service training. We’ve started taking our malaria pills, had a bunch of yummy meals, slept under mosquito nets, gotten some more vaccinations, been fitted for our mountain bikes and helmets, and generally had our heads crammed full of knowledge.

On Saturday we’ll go to the mall and get our cell phones. (Contact info coming soon!) On Sunday we’ll leave for our first site visits. I’ll be with 2-3 other LIFE volunteers, and we’ll visit a volunteer serving in the field for a few days & nights. Cannot wait to get my first taste of village life!

There are 43 other volunteers in our group, and getting to know them is awesome. Everyone has a great story and there are so many awesome personalities converging here. So far it’s been easy to forgive them for being young. ☺ (They’re not all THAT young…)

Love y’all!


Going… Going… Gone

Posted in Peace Corps Adventures by Joy on February 12, 2013

After a short train ride up to Philly yesterday and yet another round of Peace Corps paperwork, I spent the afternoon getting acquainted with the other 42 souls embarking on this adventure.

There are plenty of recent college grads, of course, a married couple, and one man who’ll be collecting social security during our service. We’ve got artists, musicians, fly fishermen, yogis, runners, writers, cyclists (soon, we’ll all claim that one). A relatively even ratio of women to men. Introverts, extroverts. Drinkers and teetotalers. Vegetarians and carnivores. The always-prompt, the ever-tardy.

We are a pretty pale crew, to tell the truth. But clearly diversity is showing up in other ways.

So far, the main constant is that everyone is game, excited, and willing to help. Oh, and that we’ve all been fretting about some version of the same things leading up to this. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

We are on the buses now, heading to JFK. Lusaka, here we come. 🙂


2 years, 3 bags

Posted in Peace Corps Adventures by Joy on February 10, 2013

Yesterday, I packed my bags for the 4th time or so.

ALL the stuff.

ALL the stuff.

And almost everything fit.

2 Years. 3 Bags. (And a personal item...)

2 Years. 3 Bags.
(And a personal item…)

Feels weird to have all the things in this consumer-driven American life condensed down to that.

Some are Silver…

Posted in Peace Corps Adventures by Joy on February 8, 2013

Make New Friends

Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

A circle is round,
it has no end.
That’s how long,
I will be your friend.

A fire burns bright,
it warms the heart.
We’ve been friends,
from the very start.

You have one hand,
I have the other.
Put them together,
We have each other.

Silver is precious,
Gold is too.
I am precious,
and so are you.

You help me,
and I’ll help you
and together
we will see it through.

The sky is blue
The Earth is green
I can help
to keep it clean

Across the land
Across the sea
Friends forever
We will always be

Today I met up with two of the volunteers who will be venturing to Zambia alongside me next week. Terri will be in the LIFE program with me, and Loren will be in the RAP (fisheries) program. They’re both in the somewhat limited pool of post-20s aged volunteers on this venture and will be on my train from DC to Philly Monday, so I was particularly glad to make their acquaintance before we set out.

It was great to chat with them about what led them to this journey, share a little laughter about the trial that is packing (and unpacking and repacking) for a 27-month venture in a foreign land, enjoy some coffee and sweet treats, and get familiar with two faces with whom I’ll share this outrageous experience.

Tomorrow, I’ll have a final going away get-together with the folks who’ve been part of my life in the last 7 years here. And saying my goodbyes to them will be hard, I’m sure. But I can’t be too sad, because I’ve met so many great people here, and I’ve made a decision…

I’m just going to keep y’all.

Just so you’re in the loop, folks… you get a relatively brief break from my physical presence while I’m in Africa (but this is not an excuse to slack on communication. A-hem.), but I’m just gonna keep you. For life. Mmmkay? Cool.


It’s All Happening!

Posted in Peace Corps Adventures by Joy on February 7, 2013

In a few short days, I’ll be making my way to Zambia. More details on that in a moment…

First, I’d like to tell you all how amazingly lucky I feel to have such an awesome support network in my life—from family to friends to colleagues to veritable strangers who have an interest in where I’m going and what I’ll be doing—I have been absolutely astounded in the last few months by the outpouring of love and support I’ve gotten from all of y’all.

I humbly say Thank You. Seriously. It means the world to me. And I also say, please keep it up! I want to stay as connected as possible to the folks back home while I’m away, and I’m sure I will absolutely treasure every single letter, package, email, text, facebook message, and phone call I receive while I’m in Zambia. Not to mention those visits from home I’m already looking forward to!

Now that my departure is imminent, I’ve been getting the same round of questions from pretty much everyone I encounter. So let’s address those, shall we?

My Travel Plans:
Monday, February 11 – I’m taking the train from DC to Philly in the a.m., then I’ll meet up with the other volunteers going to Zambia (there are nearly 50 of us) and have a 1/2 day of orientation.

Tuesday, February 12 – We will all get on a bus and head to NYC for our 15-hour flight out of JFK to Johannesburg, South Africa. From there, we’ll have a 2-hour flight to Lusaka, Zambia.

At some point in the first couple of days there, I will have a chance to contact friends and family to let them know I’ve arrived safely. If you’re on my list, I hope to get an email out to you.

My Service Time:
For the first three months, we’ll be in training near Lusaka. Our days will consist of language training in the morning, technical training in the afternoons. We will do site visits to see how and where current volunteers are living. We will be living with local host families. We have been informed that our access to the internet during this time will be very restricted.

In May, we’ll be sworn in as official Peace Corps volunteers(!) and will move to our respective villages, where we’ll stay for the next two years.

Staying in Touch:
The good news is I’ll be getting a cell phone within the first week. I’ve decided to take my smart phone with me at the advice of current volunteers. Depending on the 3G service in my village/hut, I may be able to stay more connected than I previously thought.

Even still, snail mail (and I do mean snaaaaaaaail mail) is like Peace Corps gold. You can write me and/or send me happies at this address for the first 3 months:

Joy Douglas/PCT Peace Corps
P.O. Box 50707
Lusaka, Zambia

When I get my permanent posting address, you can be sure I will let you know immediately!

Please note that the Zambian postal system is not what we’re accustomed to here, to say the least. Letters can take 2-6 weeks and arrive out of order or be lost entirely. (It is suggested you number them so I will know if anything is missing.) Packages can take 1-6 months to arrive. Patience, grasshoppers! I have a feeling I’m going to get very accustomed to waiting. (And waiting, and waiting.)

Lastly, if you want to be included on email updates, just let me know.

My Health, Safety, & Security:
We’ve been examined by every doctor we’ve ever had (or so it seemed), cleared, vaccinated, etc. and so on. They’re going to hook us up with another round of vaccinations, handy meds and mosquito nets to keep the malaria at bay, vitamins, a first aid kit, etc. and so on when we get into the country. If I get sick, PC medical staff will take care of me. If they can’t fix me, they’ll try trusted local docs. If they can’t fix me, they’ll medevac me out of the country, all the way back to the US if necessary.

Peace Corps has had us reading up and testing us about our safety and security. We’ll also be going through more security briefing in orientation at our staging event and as soon as we get to Zambia. My overall impression is they don’t want their volunteers to die or otherwise suffer undue harm. So that’s pretty cool by me. 🙂

That said, I understand there are risks inherent in all foreign travels, exacerbated by the perception that we’re wealthy Americans, and further complicated by the fact that I’m female, to be sure. But I promise, promise, promise (Girl Scout’s Honor) to be as safe and careful as I possibly can, to avoid anything possible that would put me in danger, and to not take any unwarranted risks.

My Emotions: 
By now I expected to be nervous and scared and all kinds of stressed out. The truth is, I’m not. I’m excited and happy and more confident in my decision to join the Peace Corps and accept this assignment than I have been about pretty much anything else I’ve ever done in my life.

Of course, I could be wrong. I could hate Africa and agriculture and not having ready access to cheese and ice cream. And if it turns out that it’s not a good fit for me after all, just know that I can part ways with the Peace Corps and come on back home any time I want. (But, yanno, that’s the last thing I want!)

Whew! That’s a long one. I’m not one for short musings, anyway, so that’s not surprising, is it?

Thanks for sticking out… it’s gonna be a wild ride!