Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Updates & More Photos

[Written Saturday, July 30]

Only one week left for me in Zambia; 10 days until I’m back in the land of the free and the home of the brave. 4 days until said land defaults on its debts.

What I’ll miss most about Zambia may well be the (winter) weather. I woke up at 6:30 this morning – I had gone to bed around 8:30 last night after getting too much sun and eating too much junk at the Agricultural Expo, which is supposed to be one of the country’s biggest events but frankly didn’t even measure up to the NY State Fair – and my first reaction was, of course, that it was too early for human beings to be out of bed; but once I actually got outside, I found that it was cool, crisp, clear, sunny, and generally a fantastic morning to be alive. And it’s like that every morning – not to mention toasty during the day and cool in the evening. The only thing is that it’s a bit dry, but I’d be willing to pay that price for a permanent Zambian winter.

But things change, as things are wont to do. The day before yesterday, I was summarily evicted from my room and told to move into a room upstairs. The move itself wasn’t much of a bother – after all, I don’t have many things – but my new bathroom has no mirror and no door, so I wasn’t particularly happy about that. I figure that if I’m going to move, I’d much rather that it be over a long distance, otherwise it just doesn’t seem worth it.

The reason for the move has also been the water-cooler gossip of the company for the past few days: the arrival of 3 teachers for the Chinese school that our boss also runs. Most of the talk has revolved around how cute they would be – not outstanding, though much better-looking than the last group, as it turns out. But in two weeks they’ll be moving into the school’s dorms, and anyway most of the men here are married, so any talk of the new kids is punctuated by a lot of good-natured finger-pointing and head-shaking.

The boss liked my masterpiece, so this I’ve been working on a second publicity video, this time for one of the subsidiaries; and this coming week, I’ll be making a third. Although I’d really like to share them, especially the first one, unfortunately I won’t be posting any links: I’ve said whatever I’ve wanted to about the company so far and I think it’s good policy to make sure my comments don’t show up alongside anything that might link to the company’s name in an online search. Besides the videos, I’ve also been some on-the-spot oral translation lately; today, for the first time, I’m going with the construction company’s boss to meet a potential customer.

Yesterday I was thinking about what I should include in my Zambia Kit: a transformer, a visa receipt, etc. When I get back home, I’ll have three Country Kits (TM) - the other two are for Taiwan and China. They usually fit in a Ziploc bag, and include things like business cards, SIM cards, cash, school/library/etc IDs, metro passes, and address books. (Throw in a pistol and a few passports, and I could pass for CIA.) They’re a huge help in readjusting, and can save a lot of hassle – one of the nicest surprises in Taiwan this past winter was when I arrived in Taipei and found that my half-price student metro card was still valid.

And that’s all in today’s news and ruminations. Now for...

Photo captions!

1. Lusaka’s Tuesday produce market. This picture doesn’t necessarily show it, but the Tuesday Market is surprisingly diverse – Koreans, Japanese, Indians, Pakistanis, white people, and (I’m told) a lot of regional expatriates as well.
2. Preparing 40kg of rice – a week’s supply for about a dozen people.
3. Our brickyard. The ones laid out on the ground to dry are for paths; the rest are cinder blocks for warehouse-building.
4. Speaking of warehouse-building...
5. Some of the guys who work in materials/construction having fun.
6. My (now former) housemate at the Kariba Dam, which draws hydropower from the world’s largest manmade lake. Here I should mention that, of the three people I have lived with since leaving for college, not a single one of them has been anything less than 100% cheerful and 110% fantastic. And next year I’m living in a single, so I’m not worried about that changing any time soon.
7. Water flowing from the Kariba Dam.
8. Even more water.

This weekend is a holiday I had forgotten about – aren’t those the best? - so a few of us are hoping to get together for some LAN Counterstrike (I’m rusty but I fully intend to kick ass), and maybe some Harry Potter (finally!). I’ll do my best to update once more before I leave, and then again before I leave Johannesburg. Lately I’ve been hearing a ton of stuff about Jo-burg being pretty rough – and this from Chinese, Americans, and locals – so as soon as I get my bus ticket sorted out I’m going to try to arrange transport with my hostel there.

Until next week,

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