Thursday, March 25, 2010

Surrounded by water...

Well it's finally happened we are unofficially cut off from the outside world. Yesterday when one of the short termers was leaving he was supposed to fly out but our airstrip is now under water (for the most part) which does not make for safe landings and is difficult for take off. he was driven to Kalene airstrip which is thankfully still usable. the road to Kalene is pretty bad though so very few are even attempting to drive it. According to Pete Fisher (expat who runs the farm and gave reserve who has a helicopter)some of the roads look like rivers from the air. we've had LOTS of rain everyday and night this week. Yesterday when we went down to the swimming pool the water (which comes into it from the river) was overflowing the pool. Mr. ROnald showed us the waterline from where the river had overflowed its banks in the night. by afternoon it had receeded at least a metre and 1/2 but was still higher then normal and going MUCH faster. it would have been PERFECT for tubing, but the tubes were all put away.

I'm not sure if i've mentioned this before (i don't read my own blog :P) but due to the bad road conditions the food and supply trucks haven't been able to get supplies here for the local people. because there is so much rain they are unable to dry their casava (staple food, which is dried and used like a flour) so many are getting desparate. the maize (corn) and other crops are rotting in the fields. the people are getting so desparate for food that they are practically rioting when Pete Fisher brings Meili-meal (corn meal) by in his trucks heading to sell it in various places. He now has to take bring a police officer along to ensure peace is kept. It makes me feel so guilty b/c I've been whining that the container couldn't reach us. at least we aren't starving! we still get 3 very filling meals a day, plus 2 tea breaks. really makes one stop and think before whining! I have SO much to be thankful for here! Lina and felt particularily bad b/c we just bought a large bag of meali-meal to make meals for our dog... lucky dog! we're trying to think of ways of helping out the people without showing favourtism or starting riots and such. so far we're not sure what to do. please pray for the village people and that we'll be able to find a way of sharing our bounty with those who have nothing.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's Here!

Finally the long awaited for Canadian container has arrived at Sakeji! it arrived in Zambia awhile ago but we just got our boxes this morning... at 4am! The men packed up 2 trailers hitched to tractors and 3 landrovers and headed out from Mwinilunga at 4pm. The landrovers got through without too many problems but the tractors got bogged down in the mud. ironic isn't it that they had to get the landcruisers to go back and pull out the tractors! anyhow, they eventually got here. i feel sorry for the men driving the tractors on these roads for more then 12 hours! that couldn't have been too comfortable!
i was so excited i unpacked my boxes during rest hour, only to find out 2 hrs later that i was supposed to weigh them first. :( wish they had told me that when they dropped off the boxes! now i have to pack the boxes back up and weigh them. what a hassle! for those packing boxes in the future. if you could possibly weigh them and write the weight (pounds or kilos doesn't matter) on the side or top that would be awesome! saves a lot on this end.
well i'm gonna keep this one short. got lots of repacking/unpacking to do!

Monday, March 15, 2010


Field trip for the teachers.

I have talked about how bad the roads have gotten here, but i didn't even know the extent of it until Mr. Fisher from the farm invited us to come and look at the "sakeji canyon". so after church yesterday we took a detour to check out the Sakeji Road. this is the worst the road has ever been. we are essentially being cut off by land from the main cities. this will be a problem when the parents try to come up at the end of the term. most of them drive small cars and won't even make it up as far as the "canyon" as there are several extremely muddy spots on the way where even the tractors are getting stuck. this is also a problem as we were expecting to get our Canadian container shipment this week and at present there is no way for the "lorrie" (transport truck) to get around the canyon or through the mud on the other road. the Lord knows our needs and so we're bringing them to Him as He has a plan which we don't yet know about. Your prayers would also be appreciated for this. On our way back from our little field trip to the canyon we drove through the farm, which is also a game park. we don't usually see the animals that close to the road, but we were able to spot a few zebra, sable and another deer that i have forgotten the name of. i will post a few pictures with this blog of the road to see more pictures of the road and the animals you'll have to check out my facebook album.

this weekend was a great relaxing weekend over all b/c our second 1/2 term happened to fall on the friday/saturday and it was my weekend off! so i took the seniors tubing again on friday; this time we had gorgeous sunny weather and a stronger current (more water) so it was a lot more enjoyable! i lost one of my flip flops at the beginning but a few of the boys were able to "rescue" it when we got to the dam. after our thrilling ride down the river we went swimming for awhile and i got a nice sunburn (which is now turning into a lovely tan! :) ). i thought i would try the "flying fox", a cable that runs from the top of the ant hill to the far end of the pool. it has a handle bar that you hold on to as you zip down and which you must let go of to drop into the pool before you reach the end. i climbed to the top of the anthill, grabbed onto the handle bars looked down at the pool.... and chickened out. :S it was a combo of the height as well as being afraid of letting go too soon and landing on the cement and not in the water that did me in. maybe next term i'll have more courage to do it... we'll see. after swimming we enjoyed hamburgers and salads down by the river for lunch, washing our dishes in the river afterwards. after this i went back to the house to do a bit of baking and have a nap. I had been invited to the village for supper with a friend of the family (the same one who is trying hard to teach me Lunda). I borrowed a bike from the school, not really sure what i was getting myself into or where i was going. it was pretty easy to find his house, i only had to ask directions once. the biggest problem that i has was the bike. i should have taken it out for a test run first! the brakes were starting to go and the seat was designed for a child sized bottom, not at all comfortable! most of the ride was pretty easy as it was mostly downhill, it got a little scary going down the largest hill as i wasn't sure if the brakes were going to hold out. i was sort of dreading the supper as i'm not at all a fan of nshima, the local staple food. steward knew this however and let his wife know. so they made me a special supper with no nshima involved! :) i'm so spoiled! i forgot that they would be preparing a whole me just for me, she cooked a whole chicken, a bowl full of cooked cabbage and tomatoes, a huge bowl full of fried potatoes, and for dessert a whole pinapple cut up with guava. i told them there was no way that i could eat it all myself and that they had to help me. even with 3 of them "helping" me eat it, there was still some left over and i left very stuffed! that was when i realized that i now had to bike back... uphill!! needless to say i was quite tired and somewhat sore by the time i got back and i slept very well that night! thankfully i was able to sleep in on saturday! :) Lina and i spent the majority of time on saturday cutting out the chitanges we had bought and sewing them into skirts. we were quite impressed with outselves and the results. Jill Avery (the dorm mom) also had the weekend off so we sewed in her living room on my mom's old sewing machine. Jill is also the art teacher and was working on various crafts while Lina and i worked on our skirts. it was nice to have some "adult" time with no children calling our names or demanding our attention. as they spent hte whole day down at the river it was quite peaceful really!

now half term and the weekend are both over and we are back to the regular school days. the children had yesterday to recover from their "half term break" so they are surprisingly well behaved today. And as i was able to relax and refill on my patience stores, the day and week are off to a good start! :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010


So i ran into my first live snake yesterday. well, i didn't actually get that close to it! i was supervising the junior students down at the river when the boys started shouting "snake, snake!" and running towards it. i know that boys have this strange facination with creepy crawlies, but honestly with the high percentage of deadly snakes in this area, you'd think they'd proceed with caution. however 'caution' and 'boys' is rarely seen together. i was down near the river and the snake was up near the changing hut, (basically the opposite side of the play area) so i quickly and CAUTIOUSLY moved towards the area where the boys were congregating the whole time praying as i wasn't sure what else to do! there was no way i was getting close enough to kill it! thankfully the snake was heading away from where we were but i still had to yet at the boys who were following it. thankfully Mr. Poidevin heard the shouts as he was teaching senior swimming at the pool. he came running with a VERY long bamboo pole and after locating the snake beat it to death. after mr. P. checked to make sure it wasn't going to slither away or attack someone, i allowed the children to get a closer look. this is what we saw...

i'm not sure what type of snake it is, if someone knows please feel free to share with us. i also don't know if it was poisonous or not, but around here we don't take any chances. we beat them first and ask questions later! that was my excitement for the day! earlier, when i was teaching swimming lessons to the "no seals" (those who don't swim at all) i had a pretty good lesson. it was a gorgeous day so the cool water felt nice, which is good because often my students think it's "too cold!" also because Mr. & Mrs. Poidevin Sr. are visiting from Canada i had help with my class and was only working with 8 students instead of the usual 16. i've been trying to teach them to do front and back floats. about 1/2 my students are just getting over a fear of water, so this is rather difficult. i usually "help" them by holding them up so they can get the feel of floating. i will always tell them before i let go, so they don't lose their trust in me. one little boy was so cute, we were practicing the back float, which is always a little more scary and he looked at me with these great big brown eyes and said with a very serious voice "can you not let go of me, because my breath gets frightened away." i had a hard time not laughing, just because he was too cute! but i promised him i wouldn't let go and he was fine. he even tried it on his own afterwards, and then told me "my breath is ok now". :) these are the moments when i remember why i love children! how can you not smile when you see a face like this.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shopping in "town"

As i still don't have my work permit, i am in this country on a visitor's visa. the visa is only good for 30 days but can be renewed twice. as you know i've now been here for 2 and a bit months. so i've had to renew my visa already. i was supposed to renew my visa again on the first of March, but the immigration official has been away. everytime that we call he is not there, so i am (sort of) illegally in the country. i am still waiting for my work permit to be finished so i can pick it up. unfortunately this means that i have to fly down to Lusaka as no one else is allowed to pick it up for me. please pray that my permit will be completed soon as i have a flight booked to Lusaka for March 24th. Although it is MUCH cheaper to drive, the roads (as i've said before) are absolutely horrible right now and pretty near impassible. plus, i don't have a zambian driver's liscence and even if i did, i'd get lost before i left ikelenge! so i will be flying on the small plane (not my favourite thing to do) and staying in Lusaka for a few days until my permit is sorted out and i can get a flight back. this will leave the staff here a bit stretched as i will need someone to cover my classes for 2.5 days. so again, prayer for this whole situation would be greatly appreciated!
yesterday i went into ikelenge (the "booming metropolis") to again try to get my visa updated but as he wasn't there Lina, Miss Margie Young and I decided to do some shopping! :) of course, this is fun even if you're not intended to by anything. the "main drag" consists of a row of small shops lining either side of the 'road'. these shops are about the size of the average bathroom back home. inside is often very dark even if they have electricity they don't often turn it on. the walls are floor to ceiling shells covered in whatever the latest trucks were able to bring in. the amusing thing is that most shops carry the exact same stuff for the exact same prices. we did a bit of grocery shopping picking up items such as bread (which i normally make at home but have run out of flour), oil, matches, cokes and rice. then we went "clothes" shopping. although you can now actually buy clothes and shoes in the shops, we were really just looking at the chitanges. chitanges are large pieces of fabric about 1.5 metres in length. they have all sorts of paterns and colours, there are never any "plain" ones. these are used for all sorts of purposes. you can use them simply as material to cut out and make into clothes etc, most women wear them as a wrap around skirt. they are also used to tie children onto their back in a sling-like fashion. these are the main uses but they can be used for whatever you can imagine and things you would never imagine. quite versitile really! I have picked up a few already to wear as wraps. yesterday we had fun shopping in the different shops and picking out several patterns/colours we liked. we gathered a small crowd who followed us from shop to shop looking in the window and shouting "enga chachiwahi!" (yes, it is well/good) or "hichachiwahi" (it is not well) depending on wether or not they thought we should get a particular one. it was quite fun. :) some of the paterns were quite pretty, some not so much and others just made us laugh and say "only in africa". i was going to attempt to explain this to those who have never been here, but i think it's quite impossible. there are somethings that are so uniquely "african" or "zambian" that unless you been here and seen or experienced them it's quite impossible to understand. anyhow, after our little shopping trip we realized we had to leave in a hurry as Lina and i were supposed to be supervising free swim back at the school. we had quite the bumpy ride back as Margie was trying to rush to get us back in time! As it was we didn't have time to change into our swim suits as we normally would join the kids for a swim. we weren't too sure if we should even take the children down to the pool/river as the sky was looking rather ominously black! however, there was no thunder or lightning so down we went. by the time we got down there it had started to rain, just as the children were getting into the water it began to pour! still there was no thunder and lightening and we could still see the children through the rain, so we continued to let them swim. within 10 minutes Lina and i were looking rather like drowned rats, the children of course were having a ball! i began to sing "I'm singing in the rain" and as Lina (the music teacher) had just taught hte children this a few weeks ago they all joined in. it was quite fun really. i nearly jumped in the water to spash around with the kids, but i figured i just might drown from the weight of my already soaking wet denim skirt! after free swim was over Lina and i climbed back up the hill, slipping and sliding in the mucky clay and singing at the top of our lungs "if all the raindrops were lemondrops and gumdrops..." we certainly got a workout as we were both wearing soaking wet denim skirts and it's a steep hill on a regular day! afeter nice hot showers we sat down with tea and goodies from the package that had just arrived for Lina to watch a video. what a wonderful saturday afternoon!:)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Proud 2 B Canadian!!

Everyday since the Olympics started 2 weeks ago i have faithfully checked out the medal standings (using up precious bandwidth) to keep my class informed. as Zambia was not in the Olympics and all my students are Zambians, each one got to choose a country to cheer on. Although only one of them was allowed to choose Canada (there was a small fight over that) they all cheered with me when Canada got their first gold. of course they didn't understand the significance of it, but they were happy none the less. i have been shocked to see Canada hold it's own in the top 5 the whole time! I know that doesn't sound very patriotic, but it's the way it usually goes. we usually seems to start off well, win a few medals and then step aside and let the rest of the world take it's share. but i must say that when i booted up my computer today and read the stats i was not only shocked and thrilled but extremely proud to be Canadian! we finished 3rd in the medal ranking, but i quite literally danced with glee to see WE GOT THE MOST GOLD MEDALS!!! so while canada is still rejoicing at home (it's 1am in ontario, and knowing my fellow canadians there is still much parting to be had!) please know that my class will be having a small canada party here in zambia! i wish i had been there to watch canada beat the US (sorry to my american friends, but i know you would feel the same had it been the other way around) so if anyone taped the 2 games (both the women's and mens) please send me a copy! if you need my address let me know. well, i must come back to earth and prepare for class, the kiddos will be here in 10 mins.
from one proud Canadian to the world "HA! TOO BAD YOU CAN'T ALL BE CANADIAN!EH?" ;)