Today is November 8th and in 4 days I will be 26 years old. It is an odd thought since in many ways time has stopped for me since coming to Zambia-- when you can wait 4 hours for a meeting to start or a whole day for the rains to stop so you can leave your house, you start to give up on paying attention to the clock as avidly as you would in the states. These days when someone asks my age I have to think about it before realizing I'm not a 23-year-old college graduate anymore.
November is actually a big month in my family-- a large number of my relatives were born in this month. My grandmother celebrates a landmark year in a couple of weeks, and my grandfather reached the impressive age of 92 just a few days ago. It is in honor of him and his birthday that I am writing this post-- when your 90+ grandfather starts asking you to update your blog, you know you've been offline too long.
Kasama is a very different place from Serenje, a larger and older town with darker soil and more streets. We have a traffic light and street trees and more than one paved road and a roundabout with a sculpture of a crocodile on it-- crocodiles have special significance in Bemba culture. The soil is reddish brown and the jacaranda trees blossom purple in September and the rain clouds roll in as early as October (we even had one storm back in August) and thunder darkly above us. This is an area of high rainfall and humidity, much closer to the heavy rainforest regions of Tanzania and the Congo. It is also a place of high altitudes and colder winds-- tree-starved Mpika two hours south of here is arguably the windiest place in the whole country. When I moved up here I was warned to bring my wool scarf and hat and gloves and legwarmers-- leftovers of the colder life I left behind in Philadelphia one February morning. I have not yet brought out the legwarmers, but hot season is melting in the early rains and I suppose it's only a matter of time.
Time. Something I thought I'd have more of. It's a busy job and it keeps me busy, and the less-busy days provide television and computers and grocery stores and shopping sprees in town to keep me distracted, and before I know it it's November and it's been 6 months that I've been at this job. I've barely given thought to the next steps in my life-- some, but not enough. The blessing and curse of a job and a place you love is that you become engrossed in the moment of it, and forget that the moment will end. And while I don't love this job the way I loved waking up each morning to chortling turkeys and women sweeping outside my quiet little hut in the woods, I do love being in this town and living in this house with this ever-revolving cast of characters. There is nothing more entertaining than a room full of Peace Corps Volunteers-- whether they are drunk and dancing or crass and laughing or seriously brilliant and full of ideas or flowing with stories and thoughts and plans, they are a variety of moods and thoughts and different American cultures that one can easily get lost in. I have only 6 months left in this place with these people, and some days I think it just isn't enough.
So in order to appreciate the time I spend more fully, I am going to make a greater attempt to update this blog more often. I still have a lot of ground to cover-- a trip to America, a walk with a cheetah, and an unpleasant encounter with a baboon, to name a few-- and plenty of events up ahead to write about. I can't make any promises, but I can make an attempt. I used to write in my journal every day-- I used to do yoga every morning, I used to ride my bike at least 30 km a week, I used to play the guitar, I used to read, I used to sew-- but these days the pace of life leaves little time for that, so I will try for an occasional blog post instead. Better than nothing.
PS-- anyone have any ideas what I should do for Christmas holiday? Looking for suggestions...