Lara is a Peace Corps Volunteer on assignment in Zambia, Africa.
She is serving from January 2000 through April 2002. Lara is
currently near Chama, Eastern Province, Zambia.
adventure for me, as I'd never been to Malawi. Matt (another PCV) went
with me a day before their
arrival so we could spend some time in Lilongwe. OK,
it's still Africa, but where did all the paved roads and good
from?? "Development" seems to have progressed just a bit
further across the
border. We had a great time, bought real coffee, bargained for curios
and had a fantastic Korean
dinner. Seeing Mom and Dad step off the airplane the
next day capped off a great start to vacation!
Once again, I am passing through Chipata
on my way up to Chama and thought I would
reacquaint myself with modern technology by typing out a big ol'
Life is (still) good over here in the
middle of nowhere, Africa. I've just completed
two weeks of much-needed vacation and will be returning to my village tomorrow. Yes, I
realize that many of you believe I am on a two-YEAR vacation,
masquerading as a development worker, but as my parents can now
attest, life in Zambia is
hardly a vacation.
Mom and Dad arrived Oct. 1 and it's been
a whirlwind of activity for the last
two weeks. After a short adjustment period during which the parents
learned the meaning of
"African time" and the daughter learned that mom and dad really didn't mind
spending megabucks for a rental car, those 14 days turned
out to be a spectacular amount of time together.
I won't steal their
thunder by telling the best stories of our travels in this
email ... I'm sure Mom and Dad will have plenty to talk about,
particularly after they get
those 20 or so rolls of film developed!
A few highlights, though:
Malawi is incredible! Picking Mom and
Dad up at the airport in Lilongwe was
First stop in Zambia was South Luangwa
Game Reserve, one of the best in the world.
Our two game drives were incredible, even to those who live here and
go often. On the night drive
we spotted FIVE leopards and at least five lions.
Unheard of! Of course, we nearly got eaten by some of those cats when
our safari vehicle got stuck
in the sand, but that's one I'll let Mom and Dad
tell more about!
Ah, transport. The return ride from the
game park to Chipata... There's really
just nothing like being crowded into a hot, broken-down mini-van with
20 other people, is there,
Dad? Especially when you're not exactly feeling OK
and the road is pocked with craters for four hours of travel, right
Mom? Now you
Next up was the looooong trip up to
Chama to visit my village. Because of some
last-minute transport problems, we had to rent a Subaru 4WD to make
Not cheap, but well worth it for the peace of mind it eventually
My village went absolutely crazy for my
parents! I hadn't seen so many faces in
front of my house since the week I arrived at site in April. EVERYONE
wanted to meet "Rala's
bapapi" (Lara's parents). Mom and Dad had at least 10,000
opportunities to practice their "Muli uli? Makola" in the
four days they
were in Chama. It was definitely overwhelming for my parents (and me),
but it was also touching to
see how so many of my neighbors wanted to shower my
parents with attention. The women's club in my village honored Mom and
Dad with a live chicken and
a bucket of Chama-grown rice, and later they taught
Mom to cook nshima.
Meanwhile, Dad entertained all the kids
by setting his watch alarm repeatedly
and teaching them to use his hand-held GPS! I'm sure that most of
my villagers, who know the
bush paths inside and out, think we Americans are ridiculous
to rely on satellites for navigation, but they humored us anyway.
After three nights in my mud hut, Mom
and Dad agreed with me that it is much like
living on a sailboat. Granted, my hut doesn't float very well, but
there's that whole sense of
living in tight quarters and keeping "a place for
everything and everything in its place" that is very much the
same. They were
awesome in my village, though. Took bucket baths in my grass bathing
shelter, ate nshima and took
care of business in the "chimbuzi" behind my house.
Just like a seasoned PCV!
As a reward for the village experience,
we headed south to Victoria Falls and
Livingstone. Beautiful hotel lodge, relaxing Zambezi River views, hot
showers, nice restaurants.
Ah, this was starting to feel more like a vacation!
Whitewater rafting, hikes along the
gorge... This is also where I decided that
in my next life I am going to be a rafting guide and adventure writer!
Our vacation ended with a luxurious
night at the Inter-Continental in Lusaka,
where management spoiled us with a bottle of wine and we all appreciated the blast of air
conditioning after two weeks of 100+ temperatures!
Of course there is so much more detail I
am leaving out, but as I said earlier,
I'll let Mom and Dad share all their stories and impressions of
Zambia with you. Hopefully,
they'll also type up something for this website so
you all can read it.
Me, I must get back to that development
gig I signed up for. Work is going to
be very busy over the next couple of months as we have some huge
gearing up and I am also trying to help my high school
journalism class publish a newspaper by the end of the year!
Thanks to Mom and Dad, who brought me
about 4 miles of red ribbon, all of Chama
District will be sporting AIDS Red Ribbons before long. It's a gesture
(wearing the ribbon) that I
didn't appreciate much in the U.S., but here I see
it can have real impact. People here generally do not want to talk
They do like wearing the "badge" (ribbon), though. Because I
only give the
ribbons to people who can explain to me the basics of HIV prevention
willing to talk about it with others, discussion of AIDS seems to be
increasing. Hard to say what
real difference it will make, but it can't make things
I continue to be convinced that doing
AIDS work here is the best use of my time.
Random testing of patients at Chama's hospital has shown the problem
is even worse than any of us
thought. When one of my counterparts, the nutritionist
from the hospital who had been an enormous help to Sam and me over the last six months,
died in September, the AIDS issue really touched home
for us. I'm sure he won't be the first friend to die here.
Constant ups and downs. That's the Peace
Corps deal I guess. OK, so that's life
no matter where you're working, I know. But it just SEEMS so much more
Thus, the need for more vacations! Next
on my schedule is a short trip up to Nyika
Plateau Game Park (on the Malawi/Zambia border north of Chama) with
Matt in mid-November.
Backpacking, camping, horseback safaris... can't be too
Then Zanzibar for Christmas, and then
friends Julie, Celeste and Jamie will be
here in January for another around-Zambia-in-14-days tour! At this
suspect time is going to fly by fast between now and the end of my
Back in Chama, Sam and I have managed to
keep ourselves entertained with some
hometown adventures. A few weeks ago we climbed to the top of Mphalausenga, the highest
mountain in the range that surrounds Chama. There is
no trail to the top, so we spent four hours bushwacking our way up the
mountain, all the while
wondering if we'd encounter any of the lions or deadly
snakes everyone warned us about. We didn't. At the top, Sam had to
coach me on a bit of
near-vertical rock climbing, but we made it. And what an
awesome view!!! Incredible! Our campsite at the very top looked like
something straight out of a
Patagonia catalog. I just hope the pictures turn out,
because most of the villagers around Chama don't believe we really
made it to the
I've recently heard that there is a
field of quicksand near Chama, and somewhere
nearby there is a hot spring. I'm sure we'll check it all out
First, though, I must make it back up to
Chama. And as you all know from my countless
tales of bad transport, that won't be fun. Once I get to site I'll
get back into my regular
letter-writing routine and reply to all of you who have
been so great with the care packages and letters over the last few
months. I can't even begin
to express to you how great it has felt to hear from
you all via mail to Chama. I apologize if my individual letters home
haven't been frequent
enough. I hope these occasional group monstrosities will
keep you updated though.
Now, I am going to fill out my absentee
ballot for the presidential elections
and get to bed. I won't get into partisan politics here, but thanks Mom and Dad for the
Gore bumper sticker!
I love you all and
miss you much!
|This is an email from my
parents (Major and Rose) who have gone to Africa to see my sister and
take a little vacation. They will be in Africa for about 2 weeks.
This was sent from Lusaka, Zambia using a Sharp
TM-20 Telmail E-Mail Organizer on a regular Zambia payphone.
WE ARE DOING GREAT SO FAR. WE WENT TO THE
SOUTH LUANGWA GAME PARK AND WENT ON A NIGHT RIDE AND A MORNING RIDE.
BOTH 4 HRS LONG. SAW LEOPARDS AND LIONS WITH CUBS, MANY ELEPHANTS,
ZEBRAS, IMPALAS, GIRAFFES, HIPPOS, CROCKS, BABOONS AND SEVERAL OTHER
ANIMALS. WE SPENT 3 NITES IN LARA'S VILLAGE HUT. DAYTIME 105 DEGREES,
ATE SHIMA AND LOTS OF HOMEMADE PEANUTBUTTER WITH JELLY ON BREAD. THE
ROAD TO LARA'S VILLAGE IS NOT GOOD. TOOK OVER 8 HRS. THE PEOPLE LOVE
LARA AND ARE VERY FRIENDLY. GOING TO VICTORIA FALLS AND WHITEWATER
RAFTING.GOT SWEPT OFF RAFT & WAS UNDERWATER A LONG TIME. IN LUSAKA
TONIGHT AND FLYING TO LILONGWE TOMORROW THEN TO ENGLAND. YOU WILL LOVE
IT HERE. LOVE , MOM & DAD
|This is the email that they
sent when they first got to London on their way to Zambia to see my
WE MADE THE FLIGHT FINE, C5-A. TOOK
TAXI TO TRAIN STATION, TRAIN TO LONDON. STAYING AT VICTORY CLUB ABOUT
TWO BLOCKS FROM HYDE PARK. TAKING DOUBLE DECKER BUS TOUR TOMORROW. CARRYING
BAGS TO GET HERE WAS UNREAL, 144LBS PLUS OUR BACKPACKS. NOT
AGAIN. WE LEAVE SATURDAY FOR MALAWI THEN ZAMBIA. WEATHER FINE SO FAR. SO
ALL SOON. LOVE DAD & MOM
Restaurant in Lusaka, Zambia
Eddie, Marie, Lara, Sam, Vickie Williams, Emily, Hadley Williams,
Jessica, Scott, Anna Maria, Bethany
Hello Mom, Dad, Maj and everyone!
I'd love to say I was writing from the peaceful surroundings of my
village, but alas, part of that peacefulness comes from a lack of things like phones, computers
and modems that make such instant communication as this possible. Life is full of tradeoffs.
So, here I am in Chipata (my provincial capital),
still two days of travel from my site in Chama.
I rode up yesterday from Lusaka with Scott, Sam and Bridgette
on a somewhat comfortable eight-hour bus ride. Comfortable means I had more than six inches of chair space and didn't have
to carry all my bags on my lap the entire way.
We were in Lusaka for the past week with the other
40 or so health volunteers from all over Zambia,
including all the vols from our training group.
Since most of us hadn't seen each other since our swearing-in ceremony
in April it was fantastic to get together! Everyone looked good. Some of us had put on a few nshima-induced pounds, but
others actually lost weight and everyone looked
What a busy week!! Our "in-service
training" was designed to let us share project
ideas and talk about how the health program is working out in the villages. We met lots of local officials and people
from other aid organizations so that we can work
together (i.e.: get funding) and ostensibly do
We also managed to pack in an overdose of social
time too. A few nights of late-night dance
clubbing, many many pizzas ordered into the hotel and some awesome
dinners out on the town.
Sam's birthday was just before our Lusaka trip, but
well, if you know Sam you won't be surprised to
hear that the celebration lasted for a good two weeks
solid! Jessica organized a big group dinner out at the Lusaka Club, where the pepper steak is phenomenal, and tried to pull
it off as a surprise for Sam. Unfortunately,
some of the other volunteers blew the surprise so we scrambled
for another way to surprise him. Here's what unfolded...
Around 5 pm, as Sam showered for his birthday dinner
out, at least 20 of us (mostly female vols plus
a trainer or two) filed quietly into his hotel room,
planning to yell "SURPRISE" and sing Happy Birthday as he
came out of the shower. Among the crowd was
Crazy Eddie (a vol from my training group) who
has a penchant for getting naked. As we waited for Sam, Eddie
proceeded to COMPLETELY disrobe in front of all
of us and then stand nonchalantly by the
bathroom door!! Emily burst out laughing and nearly blew this surprise
too, but Sam apparently didn't hear anything and came
sauntering out of the shower, clad only in a
towel around the waist.
I can only imagine what Sam was thinking as he
turned the corner, saw all of us, heard all of
us yell "SURPRISE!" and THEN saw Eddie, in all his glory, sporting his very own birthday suit in Sam's honor!
The shock was apparently only momentary, though,
because almost immediately, as cameras flashed
away, Sam dropped his towel too and hugged Eddie in a celebratory
It was a moment that already has become legendary!
And believe it or not, there ARE photos to document
this event! Word traveled quickly among the
volunteers from other training groups and we are
now known as being quite the wild bunch.
Everything afterward was rather anti-climactic, but
still we had a great time.
Now, it's back to the village...
I'm ready to get up to my site again and return to
my normal routine, but I'm also expecting to
feel somewhat deflated after I arrive. It's always a tough
adjustment after being with so many great people for such an intense week or two to return to the village where the word
"isolation" comes to mind frequently.
The extremes of Peace Corps are what make the experience so tough.
One minute you're with 20 of your best friends enjoying a very Western
lifestyle and the next minute you're in your mud hut, back to speaking
only Tumbuka and wondering if you really can ever relate to anyone in your village as a true friend. Everyone battles
this, and the best strategy is usually just to
stay very busy.
For me, I don't think staying busy will be difficult
this time. Shortly after I get back to site, my
friend Matt is coming up to visit for a few days
from his site in Mwata. It will be fun having someone to talk with, cook American food with and take some long bike rides
Meanwhile, work is also getting busier and busier.
My clinical officer and I have organized a Chama
District AIDS Coordinating Committee to develop better
AIDS education programs throughout the district. It's a HUGE area geographically and rather sparsely populated, so
reaching out to the remote, rural villages where
the education is most needed is quite a challenge. There
are roughly 80,000 people in the district, which we have divided into
four "zones" where we will go in with a variety of programs.
We want to work through our Neighborhood Health
Committees to identify people on the village
level who are willing to promote AIDS awareness among their neighbors.
We'll train these people to be "peer educators" and then
return with a few follow-up programs to make
sure the education is continuing. Since I am the
closest PCV to Chama, I am working closely on the overall organization
of this. But we have a few other vols in the district (Sam plus two who are in different programs) who will be helping
with the program in their areas. There is just
sooooo much emphasis on AIDS programs right now that
I can't imagine focusing on much else, or at least tying everything else into some sort of AIDS education.
My group of high school journalist wannabes is going
to publish an AIDS-focused newsmagazine at the
end of the year. And Sam is organizing a soccer
camp that will incorporate AIDS education into the program. And EVERYONE is begging for red ribbons to wear as a
"badge" that they are part of our
It's cool to work when you find people truly
motivated to help. It gets very frustrating when
you also have to work with people who are driven by other motives.
I suppose in that way it's just like any job, but when you're still trying to unravel all the nuances of a new culture it
can feel much tougher. Jealousy (or "ukwa"
in Tumbuka) is the number one problem among villagers, some
of whom I believe would rather hold everyone down in poverty than see one or two prosper. The idea that those one or two
could then pull the others up with them just
isn't imaginable. I try hard not to let my work get
bogged down by ukwa, but it can get maddening at times.
Anyway, the work is going well. My women's groups
are busy figuring out how to make sesame oil to
sell in the market to raise money. And another village group
wants me to help them develop a poultry operation so they can raise chickens and eggs for sale. Didn't know I was qualified
to give agri-business advice, did you??? Neither
In any case, life is good.
And now I am just counting down the DAYS until Mom
and Dad arrive!!!!! It was fantastic meeting
Emily's parents and Joel's mom this past week. I hope they
get a hold of you when they return so you can get some good travel tips. Meanwhile, I'll work on arrangements from this
I should wrap this up now as I've been hogging the
computer all morning. We're going to try and
head up to Lundazi this afternoon, but there's no telling
if transport will be available or not. Send me good travel karma!
I love you all and miss you much!
More Pictures have arrived!
Here they are, not in any particular order (as usual!)
Here for the Photo's for May 12th 2000
A NEW Email to Everyone!
This will be the last email from Lara for a while.
I'm on the brink of being posted at my
site and wanted to send out one last big HELLO to you all!
Tomorrow's the big day... the final push
out of that proverbial nest and into the big unknown
world of village life. Whew!!!
I've spent this past week here in
Chipata doing all of my shopping for supplies and preparing for site. In one day I managed
to blow 600,000 kwacha on everything from a
charcoal cooking stove to jerry cans for hauling water to
plastic basins for bathing, laundry and dish washing to enough pasta, tuna and canned
tomatoes to feed me for two months!
Aside from the provisioning, we've been
getting some much needed R&R here, enjoying the comforts of Chipata where we have a VCR,
email connection and even a pool in the
backyard! OK, so the pool isn't functional right now but still,
it's nice to look at! I've assembled my new Trek mountain bike (transport
for the next two years), cooked some scrumptious dinners in the huge semi-modern kitchen we have here and even whipped
up a few pitchers of smoothies
for all the PCVs to enjoy during the daily guitar jam sessions!
It's been a good week.
By Saturday afternoon I will be moved
into my village, Kampemba, and will be meeting all my neighbors. If all goes the way it has
for some of the other volunteers, the villagers
will likely greet me with some sort of welcome ceremony
of speeches, songs and dancing. Or they'll just stare at me and wonder why on earth
this Muzungu (white person) has come to their village!
Probably a bit of both. In any case, it
will be a huge day in my little speck of the world.
Then, over the next couple of months I
will get settled into my house, start my vegetable and flower gardens and start figuring out
what the heck I'm going to do for the next two
years! I've already met the District Director of
Health, Maxwell Musunga, who will be something like my boss. He is a
very nice, well-educated man who lives in Chama
and made the 3-day trip to Mwekera last week
just to be present for our swearing in. I'm looking forward
to working with him. Sam and I also have already met some people involved in a mosquito net distribution program that is
very active in Chama. We will inevitably be
working quite a bit with them. Beyond that, it's
a lot of wide open space ahead of me! I will have to assess what my area needs before I'll know what sort of projects to
take on. It could be just about anything from
teaching health in schools to helping organize women's
health groups to organizing soccer camps where kids also learn about AIDS prevention.
Really, I'll have no idea till I get there!
So, until then, I'm concentrating on
that huge task of GETTING THERE!!!
Tomorrow it's about a four-hour drive up
to Lundazi, where we'll spend the night at another PCV's village. Then Saturday morning
we'll take the little dirt
road another four hours up to Chama.
From there, I will be mailing out as
many letters as humanly possible.
Hopefully, they'll reach your mailboxes
before 2001 arrives!
Before I sign off tho, I want to thank
Lisa and LeeAnn for all the packages and letters that just arrived for me today!!!!!! I'd
been a bit depressed about the slow mail
service, fearing I'd receive nothing before being posted.
But your mail arrived today and COMPLETELY brightened my day!! Thank you sooooo much! (I'm suspecting that Joe might have
something to do with the
quick journey through the postal system, but that's just a hunch!).
Lucia, congratulations to you and Fred!
I can't wait to see the video!!!!
On that note, I will be writing you all
as soon as possible and can't wait to hear from you too.
Just got this email from
Lara. This will probably be the last email from her for awhile.
from your daughter, finally an official PCV!!!
Scott, Emily and I arrived in Chipata this evening (Monday) after a
long (but comfortable in our brand-new Land Cruiser) ride from Lusaka,
where we spent Sunday night.
Whew! This is really it! No more training. No more hot baths prepared
by "bamama". No more cushy PC support staff tending to our
It's a bit overwhelming. I think reality started sinking in this
afternoon as we approached Chipata and were talking about the
logistics of moving to site. On Friday, Krista will drive me and Sam
up north of Lundazi where we will spend a night with Matt, another PCV
and my closest neighbor (aside from Sam). Saturday morning Krista, Sam
and I will go up to Sam's site, move him in and go meet the chief
(he's my chief too).
Meeting the chief is a big deal. We have to take him gifts (live
chickens are good) and can only speak to him in Tumbuka. We'll have to
kneel before him and be really formal. After meeting the chief,
Krista and I will leave Sam and go to my site. Krista will stay with
me there perhaps for two nights because she has to meet with someone
nearby the following Monday.
That's good. I mean, I'd love to say that I'd rather just be left
alone and spend my first night alone and be all strong and all.
But.... I'm really happy about the idea of Krista staying there with
me at first.
Let's see, that will be about April 17 when I'm finally all by myself.
By then, though, I think I'll be ready.
The following week is Easter, which is a long holiday here.
That will be a good thing to look forward to.
We're also making plans to see Scott and Emily in about six weeks too.
I hope that works out.
Anyway, I actually am really looking forward to getting to my
house, setting up my new little world and meeting my village. It's
just scary and exciting all at once so it feels a bit overwhelming.
Also, I'll try calling you either Tuesday or Wednesday morning. (This
was today the 11th of April.
We talked for 35 min, collect)
Oh, by the way... swearing in was FANTASTIC!!! The ceremony was nice,
dignified, formal. Our speeches went over really well and the party
afterward was fun.
It was VERY hard to say goodbye to the Zimbas. Oh.... my packages
arrived the DAY OF swearing in!!!!!! How perfect!!!!!! The Zimbas were
SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO touched by your letter and loved the t-shirts (and
badada wore the Goodyear hat all night!!). I'd already bought them
some other gifts (thinking the packets wouldn't arrive) so they got
quite a bit from me. I found a Spanish dictionary for Winford (pretty
expensive in Kwacha) and I think he was stunned. He said he was going
to cry when I left. And badada said I'd moved his family to tears. I
also was pretty weepy.
Well, I better go so I can stop hogging the computer. More when I get
I love you lots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Apr. 2nd 2000
Here are some MORE photographs that Lara sent back
Here for the Photo's for April 2nd 2000
They aren't really organized or
anything yet, I'm seeing what information I can get about each
Be sure to check out all the
Photo's listed at the bottom of the Contents section to the Left.
Here is an aerogramme that Lara sent
to me. As you can see, you can fit a lot on one of those and
it's only .60 cents (USD) to send.
22 February 2000
badumbu! (That is "brother" in Tumbuka) Muli Uli? (or how are
Life is good here in the Great Republic of Zambia or GRZ as they call it
here! This week is a trying one, though, because we have left the
cushy comforts of our host families at the training center town of
Mwekela and are spending 6 days living the village life, much as we will
be in our real sites after April 8! But, this is tough now because
we are living with village families who are truly poor, and we
are at their mercy for just about everything - food, water, sleeping
arrangements, etc. Let me tell you, being poor is not good on the
stomach! There are six of us placed in this village, and we're all
starving! Not really, but food is not plentiful so it's fortunate
we all stashed some snacks in our bags before we left!
gig is hardcore PC living, Maj! It's sooooo cool, but it's
rough! When you have NO electricity for MILES, darkness is a whole
new experience. The people in this village (particularly the kids)
have had practically zero contact with muzungus (white people) and so generally
they just follow us and stare at us everywhere we go. As I sit and
write, dozens of kids just zit and watch me. We feel very much
like space aliens who just crashed our UFO into this village! But
they are all so extremely gracious hosts.
Today a blind
woman was escorted over to my house to meet me & Sam and speak
Tumbuka with us. She thanked us for coming to live in the villages
of Zambia and to unite the black and white people.
My host father
here, Agripa Nyirenda, asked me to give his 3 children middle names so I
named them Chicago, Illinois and Julia (2 boys and a girl), and for
Agripa I gave him the middle name of Major! So now he is Agripa
Major Nyirenda! He is very proud! Agripa's brother's wife
just had a baby 4 days ago and so they have asked ME to name the newborn
girl! I offered Rose in honor of Mom, but there is already a Rose
in the house. So now I will offer Kathryn, my middle name.
Lots of pressure here to think of good American names they can
It's later now and I am writing from beneath my
mosquito net by the light of my handy-dandy headlamp, which makes
readying, writing and using the latrine far easier! In this
village, the people are very careful to lock all the doors and windows
because we are just a few kilometers from Congo (Zaire) where a ware is
going on. Border incursions are not common, but also not unheard
of. Better to lock the doors.
The other PCVs and I are all a
little overwhelmed this week by the remoteness of village life.
It's not any one thing that gets us, but more the idea that damn, we
really are going to be out in the middle of frigging nowhere for 2
years! This afternoon Sam & I walked the few km to the nearest
'town' (meaning it has an open market and a bar/grocery) and had a
Coke. It was the BEST coca-cola either of us had tasted in a LONG
time. Then we just hung out and played Yahtzee and Gin Rummy while
the local people stared at us not too subtly. That will be my life
for the next two years - except I'll probably only see Sam once a month
so I'll be working on my solitaire.
Ah, but I don't mean to make
it sound so bleak. It's not, and I am actually very excited to get
to my site where I can set up my own house and start settling in.
I will be living in a prime area for travel, so it will be so cool when
you come visit! I'll be relatively near Lake Tanganyika, but
closer to some places in Malawi and to some game parks in Zambia.
Transport is a bitch, though, so don't expect to get ANYWHERE quickly or
on time. On one day, getting from point A to point B might take 3
hours, but on the next day it could take 12 hours or 2 days! There
are so many variable involved that you wouldn't even dream of!
Unlike in America, time in Africa is very elastic. So true!
But you will have a great time experiencing my village life if you just
kick back and go with the flow.
I'll try to prepare you the best I
can, but I can say now that you will be rising with the sun (if you're
not up by 6 the village and the roosters will WAKE you up!) and going to
sleep shortly after sundown. Like everyone else, I have become
extremely frugal with my flashlight use (conserving battery power and light bulb
life) and prefer to burn candles. Easier to just take advantage of
the daylight. Plus, all the creepy bugs and snakes come out to
play at night so I'd rather be under my secure mosquito net then!
Well, I'm running out of space so I'll wrap this up and get to
sleep. Marie and I are meeting at 6:30am to go running - we go
about 5k every morning - it's the only time (while we're running) in
Zambia it's acceptable to wear shorts!
Zambia Tip #
Never shine your flashlight down the latrine. Scary!
Zambia Tip #
Close up your luggage at night or you may discover some creepy things
living there the next morning.
Zambia Tip #
Everything does taste better if you drown it with salt!
Zambia Tip #
Bedbugs suck. So do biting ants!
Here are some PHOTOGRAPHS(!!!!)
that Lara sent back
Here for the Photo's for March 2000
They aren't really organized or
anything yet, I'm seeing what information I can get about each
Be sure to check out all the
Photo's listed at the bottom of the Contents section to the Left.
Here is a letter that Lara emailed
home. She wrote this on 3/4/2000.
Subject: How to eat nshima with your hands...
...and other skills I'm
learning in Zambia!
Or, Muli Uli, as the Tumbukas
say! I'm livin' it up in Zambia these days, learning the local
language and giving up more standards of cleanliness everyday.
I hope you all have seen the
website my brother's keeping up for me. I believe some letters and
photos have been posted.
So far everything has been
great here! I think of all of you often, yet I do not long to be back
in the States. Rather, I wish each of you could be here with me
experiencing this life. It is incredible.
I am living in conditions I
wasn't sure I could really tolerate and loving it. It's amazing how
quickly you shed your need for electricity and running water! It's an
incredibly simple life here. Simple beyond words simple. And that is
good and bad. A simple family life is the ultimate importance to a
Zambian and that is beautiful. But simple also means there is little
to do here, little infrastructure and few resources. This is truly
what they mean by "poverty". Basic needs (like schooling and
medical care) are just NOT met and it's difficult to get to know such
wonderful people and know that unless some miracle occurs they will
NEVER have the opportunities we have in the U.S.
We all struggle with
realizations and thoughts like this everyday and it generates some
interesting discussion among the PCVs. Few answers, but good
Ack!! Unfortunately, I have
just run out of email time!!! Yikes!
Anyway, we're all having a
blast here in Zambia. My training group is very cool and we're all
getting along well. Tonight we're going out for our big night on the
town!!! Hitting the disco of Kitwe after a pizza dinner!!! Wa-hooooooo....
the things we get excited about these days!!! I'm listening to more
bad American music here than I EVER heard in the States (Celine Dion,
Backstreet Boys, etc.!!!). I'm going to come home with some BAD music
I hope life is great for you
all!! Write letters whenever you can... we LIVE for
Love you, miss you!
Feb. 18th 2000
Here is a letter that Lara mailed
home. She wrote this on 2/2/2000.
Dear Mom, Dad & Maj,
Hello! We finally found some of these aerogramme's,
which are the best way to mail letters from Africa. Wow.
I'm REALLY here! It's almost hard to believe as we walk around
these tiny villages that this is now 'home' for the next 2
years. The people are SO nice! This week I am with Big Ed
(the dentist) and Emily (not the one I met in SF, but the other one)
and we are staying with Karla, a PCV in Eastern Province. Her
hut is not large, but we've managed to squeeze in. It's the
rainy season so it wasn't practical to use my tent here yet. My
therma-rest, however, is wonderful to have! Thank you for
insisting on that. Karla is in a meeting now so the three of us
are all sitting here at the Post Office writing home. Have you
heard from Erika's parents? They live in Richmond so we are
trying to hook you all up! Erika was going to be near email and
planned to send her family your name and number.
As I mentioned on the phone the other day, we chose our language which
determines which area we will live. I am going to study Tumbuka
and will live near the town (or 'boma') of Chana in the northern part
of Eastern Province. Sam is the only other person in my language
training so we will live somewhat near each other, which seems like a
good thing. He's a good guy and has already become an easy
person to talk to. Actually, we're all quite close now! I
guess PC does that! This Emily I'm with now also will be in
Eastern Province, but in the southern part. She's been great to
hang around with and she was my roommate in Lusaka so we are becoming
fast friends. So far everything is going very well.
visit to Karla's village has been an eye-opening experience, watching
Karla cook on her charcoal stove, using the latrine, working by
candlelight in the evening, meeting her neighbors and so forth.
Nothing was particularly unexpected, but it does have more impact to
see it in person and realize this is how you will live for two
years. They say where Sam and I are going is more remote than
most PC sites. But we also will be very close to Lake Malawi,
and some game parks, so there are some benefits! We will be in
new sites, meaning no PCV's before us. That too has it's pro's
and con's, but I wanted a new site so I am happy.
Right now there are two teen girls staring at us through the post
office window. I'm getting used to that already, though.
Usually you just smile and they smile back with the most friendly big
smiles you've ever seen.
Write a lot! I can't wait to start
getting mail! I dreamt last night that I got to come home to DC
for about an hour and used the computer and had some of mom's green
I love you
ps - feel free to post this on
Thanks Lara, I
will! - Maj
AirMail Rate Information
Feb. 2nd 2000
Lara and 20 other PCV's arrived in
Lusaka, Zambia mid day Sunday, 30 Jan 00. We spoke to her Sunday evening
after trying for two hours to get thru. She was excited and very tired.
At 5:00A.M. Monday we got a call from Lara telling us she was going to
be assigned to the northern area of the Eastern Province near the Malawi
border after the 3 month training period. She will be working with
another new PCV named Sam Rikkers. They will be learning to speak
Tumbuka (a language spoken by 2 mil people in Zambia, Malawi and
Tanzania). They are now going on a 3 day trip to a field site (using
tents) then on to the 3 month training center. She is loving it so far.
Watch for photos to come.
Mom and Dad Weber
Jan. 29th 2000
Here is an update on the Zambian mission. The PCV wannabe's
(currently referred to in their literature as Peace Corps Trainees (PCT's))
rendezvoused in D.C. on the 27th of January, 2000 to begin
in-processing and team building. That ended with a dinner gathering,
good story telling and lots of camaraderie. On Friday, the 28th, they
got their immunizations, finished bag re-packing and headed for Dulles
International Airport. The few hours of waiting and final good-byes to
friends and some families was wrapped up in a Northwest DC-10 that got
off just about on time. There was a final 20 minute wait for two
doctors whose bags showed up, but they never did (their bags were
pulled off the plane). There was also one PCT whose ticket for the
first leg of the flight was lost. Oh well, put her on and let's go.
And they did. The excitement of the moment and the expectations for
the future overcame the pull on the heart.
Mom and Dad
Jan. 27th 2000
Lara just sent this to me,
here is her schedule from now until she is settled in Zambia... until
-- Lara's Itinerary
Thursday, Jan. 27, 2 pm: Report
for Peace Corps service in Washington, D.C. immunizations
Friday, Jan. 28, 7:30 am: Assume job as pin-cushion and receive
Friday, Jan. 28, 6:05 pm (D.C. time): Depart Dulles Airport for
Saturday, Jan. 29, 7:45 am (Amsterdam time): Arrive in Amsterdam
and train into
city for 12-hour layover!
Saturday, Jan. 29, 8:10 pm: Depart Amsterdam for Johannesburg
Sunday, Jan. 30 (SuperBowl Sunday), 7:50 am (S.Africa time):
Arrive in Jo'Burg
Sunday, Jan. 30, 11:05 am: Depart for Lusaka, Zambia
Sunday, Jan. 30, 1:05 pm: Arrive in Lusaka
Jan. 30 - Feb. 2: Peace Corps orientation in Lusaka
Feb. 2 or 3: Bus to Peace Corps training center near Kitwe in the
Feb - April: Training
May: Move out to site for two-year posting
Jan. 15th 2000
My sister Lara has joined the Peace Corps
and is moving to Zambia on the African continent!
Lara hasn't left just yet.
She will be flying out of Washington, D.C. on the 28th of
January. After that, I should have some material to post into
this web site to keep everyone up to date on Lara's Life in Zambia!
Until then, check out some of these
tidbits of information that I've gathered for your consumption!
If you have any information that you
would like to share, please let me
know so that it can be included in this continually evolving site.