You’ll hear it from any PCV you talk to, that every day is an adventure. But it truly is. Let me give you a breakdown.
Sunday: got stuck in a rainstorm at church, and was there for 5 hours. Then went over to my host family’s and ate an unknown organ of their pig that was slaughtered the day before.
Monday: had a site visit from Peace Corps, biked to Luwingu and back in the rain.
Tuesday: ate cow intestine with my clinic head because she thinks it’s delicious. Went mushroom hunting with a group of women because I didn’t understand anything they said other than “follow me.” Ended my day by squeezing bot flies out of my dog’s face. (A more strange, disgust inducing day.)
Wednesday: made banana chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate chips my parents sent me. I then spent the rest of the day hanging out with my host family, and ended up working on the farm with them for a few hours that evening.
Thursday: clinic in the morning for antenatal, and then baking banana bread in the afternoon for Valentine’s Day :-).
Friday: read an entire book before noon, and then have my first planning meeting for international women’s day!!
It’s almost impossible to find routine here, because every day is completely unique. As a first generation volunteer, my job right now is to sensitize the community to Peace Corps and to my work. I am in community entry; the first three months at site where you are focused on community diagnoses, finding counterparts to work with, and just getting to know your role in the community. Work here is very flexible, and even more flexible for me since I’m a first generation.
Some constants in my life are: I always boil water at night and put it in my thermos to make coffee and oatmeal in the morning. I usually shower in the afternoon. If I do laundry, I have to pull up 5 buckets of water from the well. If I don’t, I only need 2. I hate doing laundry. I visit the clinic and my host family. I usually go to some church service each Sunday (I’ve been hopping around- can’t let anyone think I’m only a volunteer for the Catholics!). I go to Luwingu once a week to buy vegetables, and usually a donut too.
Life here is very fluid. Some days I do nothing but chores around my house, other days I don’t get home until 19:00 because I was watching a baby being born at the clinic. I’ve been getting used to the fluid way of life, and identifying some allies and friends in the community.
It’s hard to come to a place so foreign, where there are so many cultural differences, and find people who you think you can be truly candid with. Me? I am making friends. I came into this thinking I would have to tell people I don’t drink, don’t date, hide my complicated feelings about religion, hide my feminist views, and many other things that make me who I am. I have decided not to hide things about me. Two of the three goals of Peace Corps are cultural exchange; I am here to learn about Zambian culture AND to teach about American. So I will not be letting go of who I am in order to fit in here. I will continue to embrace the fluidity of life here in Nsanja while engaging in all of those awkward conversations about religion, marriage, and many other cultural differences. I will be respectful of Zambian culture, but don’t think I’m going to leave my ville without teaching them a thing or two about women’s rights ;-).