Life back in Zambia after my visit to America has been…interesting to say the least. While it feels amazing to be back, unfortunately some not so great things have been happening.
After I landed back in Lusaka, I traveled back up to Luapula and headed back to my village. I was warmly greeted by my community, and spent a lovely 5 days getting settled back in and catching up with people in my village. On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I had to go back into Mansa to attend the bi-annual provincial meetings. When I returned to my village that Friday, I found that my outdoor dish drying rack (made of local materials) had been smashed, and my mud brick oven in my outdoor cooking shelter had been damaged. When I asked what had happened, no one really gave me a straight answer. I just shrugged it off and figured some kids were horsing around and broke some stuff.
The next day, my counterpart came and I showed him the damage to my things. He said he wasn’t sure what happened, but that he would go find out. Later that evening, he came back with some bad news.
Just as a quick back story, there has been a somewhat mentally unstable man in the village next to mine who has been causing some issues with me since May or June. I have gone to the village headman about him, and other steps had been taken, but recently things have escalated.
Apparently, the damage that was done to my drying rack and oven was done by this man. He also had apparently tried to break into my house but was seen by one of my neighbors and chased away.
My counterpart told me this, and then said that this man is now declaring that he will come and burn down my house while I am sleeping. Since my roof is made of grass, that is all too easy to do. Not only that, but this man has a history of burning down houses – he has done it twice before. My counterpart recognized that I was in potentially serious danger, and advised that I needed to leave immediately.
So, I called Peace Corps and within 45 mins a cruiser arrived to take me away. I was heartbroken and bawling as I haphazardly threw anything valuable into my bags. I grabbed my kitty and anything that I REALLY didn’t want to be burned, and left.
For the past 10 days or so, I have just been in limbo. We arrested the man, but due to the incredibly broken Zambian justice system, he was released a few days later. There is talk of possibly going back to my site with a guard, or else getting pulled out permanently. I really have no idea what will happen at this point. I have a meeting later this month to determine what the future holds for me here.
Luckily, I have been able to keep busy and keep my mind off of what is happening. I recently went with some friends to the only private game park in Zambia, Kasanka. Every year, the biggest mammal migration in the world (BATS!) essentially headquarters there. When we went, there were an estimated 10 million bats, and at dawn and dusk each day you could see them just filling the sky. It was such an amazing experience! In addition to bats, we got to see elephants, hippos, crocs, tons of antelope, and some really amazing birds. It was a blast! Afterwards, a friend of mine from another province came up to visit Luapula for a few days which was awesome.
My super amazing friend Abby managed to talk me into spending Christmas in Europe this year. I’ll meet her over there for 2 weeks and see Italy, Spain, and Paris. Then she is heading to Uganda for a month long medical school rotation, and then will come over to Zambia to visit me for about 3 weeks. I am really looking forward to spending some time with her, and the timing really couldn’t be better since I can’t even go back to my village right now. It will give me something to do rather than just sit around the Mansa Peace Corps office like a bum.
I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season back home. Even with all this drama and uncertainty, I am still happy here in Zambia and keeping optimistic. And if you are just dying *wink wink* to send me a package, here are some fresh package ideas :)
-Mac and Cheese (obviously.)
And anything else already on the list to the right —> or whatever else you think would be great to have over in Africa!
I’ll leave you with my favorite photo from the bat migration… the photo doesn’t do the actual experience justice, but I still love this picture!
Miss and love you all.