Tuesday, May 3, 2011

First Days at Site

I’ve been trying to keep brief daily record/notes in a small journal since arriving at site- sort of just a list of some of my activities, interesting things, or feelings each day. So, without much expansion or elaboration, I’ll just give you what I’ve recorded so far in the journal:
-          Arrived at site in Nteme- went to the school first, but nobody was there b/c the teachers were all at a funeral- the Senior teacher’s brother had died
-          We proceeded to my house and unloaded my things from the cruiser
-          My bataata greeted me and showed me the house and helped unload- then he brought me over to his family- the family and I greeted each other then sat awkwardly for about an hour- I held a 1 month old baby most of the time (supposedly she was born the day I left from site visit last time!)
-          I fetched water w/ two of the girls
-          Made fire successfully and cooked dinner!
-          First full day in my new home!
-          Swept and waxed bedroom floor, hung poles in bedroom to hang clothes from, unpacked, organized, cooked lunch and dinner, successful at lighting brazier 3/3 tries so far!
-          Amazing and relaxing hot bath sitting in huge basin- first time in Zambia to take a hot sit down bath (I’ve had cold showers, cold bucket baths, hot bucket bath, and just last week a hot shower, but this is the first time I’ve been able to sit and relax in my bath b/c I bought a HUGE bucket lol)- for those of you that know how much I like my baths in the states, you know what a big deal this is to me ;-)
-          Pumped 20L water, carried 10L
-          Relaxed reading in bed, hot day
-          Some privacy issues- certain family lets themselves in and looks at/ asks questions about all of my things, wanting to know how much they cost and where they came from
-          One nice sister speaks good English and is 21, she has been very friendly
-          Painted first mural on wall in sitting room- African bush and village scene- took all day, but I finished it!
-          Neighbor lady worked on re-cementing my insaka/cikuta
-          I cried at lunchtime b/c they were watching me (from a distance) try to make fire and sent a little girl over to give me fire (hot coals from their fire)- I was upset b/c at that point my fire was lit and I didn’t need their help- and it makes me mad and embarrassed when they think I can’t do things like make fire
-          2nd day in a row there was a lizard in my shower room…and a frog lives in my toilet room
-          Major ant issue- I have no idea what attracts them to certain things and places! Like my water jug or under/on my bed and on any dead spider or termite dirt on the floor! Ugh!
-          13 kids piled themselves uninvited into my sitting room tonight for singing and storytelling
-          Up early and made breakfast, got ready for church (Seventh Day Adventist), then sat and waited for the girls to get ready
-          Big headache from the paint fumes last night (I couldn’t keep the windows open to air it out)
-          Auntie brought cibwantu (sweet beer- non alcoholic) for me to drink
-          Church was long and boring and my head hurt- I’ll need to figure a way out of going every week
-          Cooked lunch and took a long nap
-          Fetched water, took bath, and cooked dinner
-          I’ve had goats, chickens, and other random animals walk into my house on multiple occasions- one of the baby goats even ended up in my bedroom under my bed and I had to chase him out ! lol by the way, I’ve decided I really like goats (in addition to liking to eat them lol)- they are very interesting and curious, they walk up and just watch me, they look at me like they are humans, like “hey, what are you doing?”, then the baby ones are hilarious- the one is always trying to jump up on things like my insaka wall and my veranda wall- I have no idea why… but they give me entertainment anyways J
-          Woke early and ate cold leftovers
-          Went to the field with the women to harvest/dig ground nuts (peanuts), worked for 3 hours, was not too hard, but my back will be sore and my hands are a little blistered and sore
-          Women constantly thought I was tired and should rest or go home- I had to keep insisting that I was fine and trying to prove that I am strong- it is very frustrating to have people always thinking you are weak and can’t do anything!
-          Ants are still a big problem!
-          Stupid lizards in shower!
-          Layed in bed all afternoon reading my book- finished my first book of Communtiy Entry- “The Red Tent”- very very good- look it up and read it!
-          Not sure what I should be doing work wise- don’t really know where to start
-          Burned 2 of my fingers on right hand with boiling water tonight L
-          Woke in middle of night to the sound of a pot crashing and water splashing-which really freaked me out b/c I had left a pot of soup broth balancing precariously atop a bucket- went into the sitting room and luckily there wasn’t soup all over the floor- something did splash out of the dish bucket/water though- I shined my light around some more and discovered a little mouse friend and also something flying around seeming to be a bat- so seems I have a house full of creatures already
-          Luckily my fingers seem to be okay, I soaked them in water for a long time last night and slept with them wrapped in a wet washcloth- I think that really helped
-          Was lazy this morning so I got creative and made bread porridge- put a slice of bread in a bowl and poured warm water (from flask from night before), and a spoon of powdered milk and spoon of sugar, and mashed it up- lol it wasn’t too bad
-          Hung clothesline in yard and in house (for underwear) and did wash!
-          Shelled ground nuts while waiting for clothes to dry
-          Lizards now also in my toilet L
-          Hung citenge curtain and drew out picture on 2nd wall to get ready for mural
-          Almost cried at water pump b/c the women were talking about me and laughing and saying I was tired- it’s hard to always have people talking about you and you have no idea what they’re saying- I hear my name in conversations all day (and sometimes night) long, except its not my name, it is “muguwa” the word for white person- I’ll be inside my house, and I can hear it on my family’s compound, outside my house, at the neighbor’s houses on either side- all day long- tonga  tonga “muguwa” tonga “muguwa” hahaha….
-          Made delicious pancakes tonight
-          So I guess one of the dogs decided he didn’t like me tonight, he kept coming towards my veranda and growling and barking at me, I tried to shoo him away, but he seemed to get angrier and kept rushing closer to me, so I ran in my house and slammed the door- scared the crap out of me- I guess we’ll try to figure it out tomorrow- don’t know if its one of ours or a neighbors- all of the dogs seem to be barking and going crazy all over the place right now as I lay in bed typing this


    1. Community entry sounds very stressful. I would definitely set some boundaries as far as inside your house, even if they stand outside your door and look in. Otherwise you have nowhere to get away. It seems like you have as much to learn from the people there as they have to learn from you. Keep strong and healthy and keep working alongside the people and soon you will make friends with everyone. I love you.


    2. jess, this line made me laugh out loud -13 kids piled themselves uninvited into my sitting room tonight for singing and storytelling. That is definitely upsetting to hear yourself being talked about, but realize that you are probably a very curious new neighbor to be had too right? That is wonderful advice your mom gave, to work alongside the the people and keep on being friendly. It must be hard to figure out the customs of new places. I am so sorry to hear about the lizards!