The Kinky Green


Second Site Visit, In Full Swing

Posted in Peace Corps Adventures by Joy on March 31, 2013
Tags: ,

For the last few days I’ve been visiting Makambwe Village in Eastern Province, with Bailey & Buck (the other folks in my language group). We’re guests of Caleb, who’s 1 year into his LIFE service. Courtney, who is with the RAP (fisheries) program & lives in a village nearby, has been with us a lot, too. We’ve had an awesome time meeting different folks in the village, like the headman; the woman who makes these huge, awesome clay pots (and, on Sundays, the bootleg liquor they drink in the village); an awesome, progressive farmer who’s using a lot of great green techniques in his fields; three village elders who talked with us about funerals, traditions, & beliefs in this part of Zambia; and approximately 1 jillion iwes (pronounced EEE-ways. Literally, “you,” but it’s the general term thrown at children. And animals, for that matter.).

The first night here, we joined the folks in the village for dancing. The younger ladies form a circle around some dudes with drums and shake their bums & hips in unison while singing awesome songs like “My husband went to town & bought me a chitenje (wrapper). It wasn’t very nice. He should’ve gotten the wax one.” And “My uncle bought a bicycle. I saw him using it in town to carry prostitutes. I’m going to spill the beans.” It’s pretty rad. The women make the songs up about different things that happen in their lives. Kind of an awesome way to get back at someone who pisses you off – immortalize your grievance in song. The dudes stand around the circle and pretty much ogle the women while they’re showing off their mad hip-shaking choreography. They pulled us into the circle, of course. And everyone in the crowd laughed their heads off at us for our total lack of Zambian dance abilities. But Zambians laugh their heads off at most things mezungus (foreigners) do, so most Peace Corps folks are like, eh, screw it. Might as well have some fun, right?

When we went out to look at the fields, we wandered into a grove of banana trees that were hiding a fish pond. These amazing little bright yellow & black birds had built the coolest nests at the ends of the branches hanging over the water. They are nearly heart-shaped (though upside-down) and almost totally enclosed, except an entrance underneath, where predators can’t reach. We snagged a couple (sorry, birds) to look at them more closely. They must weave them out of green grass & then let it dry. They even finish the entrance ends with a different kind of weave. Amazing.

Buck slaughtered a chicken for the first time. Caleb’s method is to hold the chicken upside down for a few minutes so the blood rushes to its head & then slit its throat & let it bleed out. I pretty much have no desire to slaughter one. I might stop eating chicken altogether in Zambia. Haven’t decided on that one yet. I want to keep chickens if I can, though only for eggs.

Yesterday we rode our bikes out to hike up a little mountain. From the top, we could see everything for miles. It was a clear gorgeous afternoon, & we took the opportunity to explore the area. We rode through several villages, meeting tons of folks, scaring iwes, shaking hands like we were some kind of celebrities, and getting heckled a fair amount. We rode through the bush, over a few awesome bridges constructed from logs thrown over some supports, and finally along a couple of roads. We made it back just as the sun was setting, threw together a quick dinner & passed out early. One of the best days in Zambia yet.

This morning, we were treated to a ride in an oxcart. We all had a chance to drive, too. Pretty simple endeavor. The rules are: hit the cow on the right if you want to go left, or the cow on the left if you want to go right. Stand up and click your tongue to speed up. Whistle to slow down. Have the cow boy walk in front to lead the cattle when you meet another vehicle. And, above all, don’t fall off. We met a car full of Zambians who thought it was hilarious to see an oxcart full of mezungus with a lady driving. The driver stopped, got out, and chased us down to take our picture.

Tonight is our last night with Caleb & Courtney. We’ll be heading to our respective sites in the morning for a few nights. I know I’ll be meeting a bunch of people including the headman, getting a feel for the village layout & surroundings, & hanging out with my host’s family. I’m excited & a little nervous to go out “alone” for the first time, but it’s going to be amazing.

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