About Me

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I finally made the decision to go to Africa for 6 months.. at the time I was happily married and I had a great job doing business development for a great staffing firm. Everything was stable and good. Now I've returned to Toronto... My husband and I have split up, he's moved out and I'm single after being together for almost 10 years and I'm navigating my way back into my old job... and I thought it would be interesting to take everyone along in the new adventure.. if you're interested in reading more about my trip you can see that blog at myvsoadventure.blogspot.com.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

VSO adventure over and another one begins....

What can I say really so much has changed since I last wrote.  I am getting divorced.. that’s the biggest change. Bob has just moved out of the house and I arrived home on Monday May 16th. The biggest thing I learnt in Africa is its meant to be the way it’s going to be. Whether that means people just wait for things to happen because they feel it’s beyond their control or it means that things happen for a reason and unfold in a certain way and there isn’t much you can do to stop it.. I’m not sure.. Only time will tell. I just want to acknowledge some people who have been an amazing support to me; my  mom, my best friend Jesse, and my sister in law Reesa. Thank you for all your love and support but most especially for the support you have given me in these 6 months.
I had an incredible journey in Zambia.. from arriving and missing home so much to establishing meaningful friendships and embracing the culture for all it had to offer.. I had an incredible time in Zambia and I wouldn’t exchange it for anything and I will never regret taking the plunge and doing it. I would consider doing another trip of it’s kind.
There wasn’t much about this experience I didn’t enjoy but the things I won’t miss are.. people knocking on your bedroom window asking for some favour at 7:00am on a Saturday.. and taking cold showers when it’s cool outside in the morning and sometimes having no water at all. I will miss coming home for lunch everyday.. and making fresh lemonade from the lemons in my neighbours yard. I will miss living a very laid back and stress free life. Even though there is very limited things to do I never feel bored.. it’s very strange.. you can always find something to keep yourself busy with.
There is plenty still to be fixed in Zambia but there is plenty to be fixed all around the world; everyone has their own struggle it’s how you decide to tackle and concur it..It’s the end of the VSO adventure and another adventure begins...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The 10 things I knew starting out..

At the very beginning of being here.. these were the things I had learnt.. and now here are my reflections on them.
1.    1.  All that will be eaten are carbs here.. I will be a vegetarian for the next 6 mths.. with a few cans of tuna and some eggs thrown in for good measure. – in January we had a butchery (thank you Anari) open up in Siavonga.. it is far away so I was only able to go by cab.. but I went every month or so and stocked up so I did eat pork chops, steak and chicken regularly in the last few months I was here. The other thing that I didn’t realize was how many tomatoes I would eat while here.. it’s one of the only veggies that you can get in large amounts for cheap and they are delicious.  The volunteer before me had planted basil (thank you Ben) and I was able to get garlic from Lusaka.. so I made bruschetta and pasta with olive oil garlic, tomatoes and basil very often..
2.       2.The work I have to do at Siavonga Nutrition will not last me 6 months.. but there are a lot of agencies who can use help.. one of them being Celim.. it’s out of Italy and they are doing amazing micro-finance work. – this was very true.. I worked for Lake safari and then for the district council of Siavonga because there was not enough for me to do at SNG.
3.       3. It’s hot and I will have the best suntan of my life while living here.. – also very true. I don’t think I’ll ever burn again.
4.       4.I will miss my husband more than worlds can express.. and although I can still have fun it’s always at the back of my mind. – as time went on it did get easier but after I got past the halfway mark all I kept thinking about was I was halfway to seeing my hubby again.
5.       5.I will forever have diarrhea and I’ll just get used to it. – My system never got 100% used to the food and drink here.. I was either constipated or had diarrhea the entire time I was here but at least I didn’t get Malaria
6.       6.I will forever be changed by this experience and will have made new friends for life. This is very true.. Although there are few who made the list.. the ones on the list are super important to me and I will keep in touch with them forever.
7.       7.I will never be afraid of bugs again.. so far we have spiders, ants, flying maggots (which are a delicacy here.. very nice lightly fried) centipedes, a hybrid spider/moth, geckos and of course mosquitoes. Also true I’m not afraid of any bugs at all.. I am however still afraid of chicken’s beaks and feet.
8.       8.I will not see hot water for 6 months but it doesn’t matter because it’s really hot and we don’t need it! There were a few mornings when it had rained the night before that warm/hot water would have been welcome but on the whole I really didn’t miss it at all.
9.      9. A cell phone is key to a good social life.. everyone sends texts all the time, it’s cheaper than talking.- Although texting a lot cheaper a lot of people here still call because there are many who don’t read.. so I got used to calling and txting.
10.   10.Zambia is beautiful in her own way.. There are some very beautiful parts and some not so nice parts but in everything there is a little bit of beauty (that sounds so cheesy but it’s really true). I can’t express how true this is.. I will miss waking up to seeing Lake Kariba in her splendour.. to beautiful 6:30pm sunsets.. to the rolling hills from Lusaka to Siavonga and to all the changing greenery.. from 1 month to the next the landscape changes completely.. the nature grows and changes so quickly around here because of the heat.  Fruit and veg come in and out of season in a matter of weeks and you have to get it while it’s here. It’s amazing. My favourites were mushrooms, luigi which is a root that tastes kind of like potato, and rape.

Prison Break

So what an exciting weekend.. Friday night I went out with my boys.. Jack and lennox and Driver 2 of his friends.. we had a great time. It was nice to hang out with them again; in fact we all said it had been too long!
 We had a really nice time..at the end of the night I was dropped off first, I had just got out of drivers car and my phone rang.. it was Trust our house boy he had been arrested. So off we went the group of us to the police station. We got there and there were 10 boys sitting on the ground of the police office. Trust is in the corner looking like he’s going to shit his pants. I asked to speak to the person in charge and they said in order to bail him out we’ll need to come back tomorrow morning starting at 6am, and they are doing me a favour because when they arrest someone on a Friday night they usually hold them until Monday. I asked what I could do to get him out tonight because I can’t bear the thought of him sleeping in the cell. (it’s 10 x 10 and disgusting and full with drunk men.. 1 of whom assaulted a woman standing in the office with her lip cut open) She says wait for my boss... I spoke to the boss and explained Trust is a good boy who has never been in trouble, he doesn’t drink.. or smoke, he’s always at work on time and does a good job. The man says wait here and I’ll see what I can do.. 30 minutes later he comes back from rounding up another group of 20 boys... all these young boys are being arrested for being “out of bounds” this means they were found walking after 10pm.  Technically there is nothing illegal about walking after 10pm however for  anyone younger than 20 something there is an unwritten rule that they shouldn’t be found walking around after 10pm or they can be arrested.  To me this is a ridiculous practice.. the first officer told me they are cracking down on people to find the people responsible for stealing from the white people in Siavonga.. which sounds good but in actual fact the thieves are pros and they aren’t going to be amongst innocent 20 somethings..who are just having fun with their friends.. But I digress..
The boss finally comes back and I plea Trusts’ case again.. He tells me to come with him.. He and 2 of his officers meet with me in private around the corner.. and he says we’re willing to help you.. You must help us.. What can you offer.. I know he’s asking for a bribe but I’m scared to offer because it’s illegal to bribe an officer.. so I say well I’m not certain I’m doing the right thing and I don’t want to get in trouble.. But I can give you 100 pin if you let him out tonight... (it usually costs 25 pin *5.00 to get someone out) He says well I’m also looking for a white wife... can you help me with that? I explain I’m married so I can’t and I’m a volunteer so I can’t afford more than 100 pin.. But I would be really grateful if he let him out.
He told me to wait... he walked away and talked to his officers.. his officers came back and said he had accepted I paid them and Trust was set free. I took him to my house and he slept on the living room floor on my sofa cushions and left the following morning. Trust is the quietest shiest guy I know.. he’s a good kid and he’s always appreciative of the help I give him with anything. In the morning he said; I just want to say thank you.. I don’t know what I would have done without you. My heart melted.. Trust was really lucky.. usually when these kids get arrested, everything gets taken away immediately. But because Trust is young and was so scared they allowed him a phone call.. without this he would have been in jail until this morning.  I have always appreciated having the perks of being white here in Zambia but I really appreciated a lot on Friday night... we would never have been able to get Trust out on Friday night if I wasn’t. 


I haven't posted in so long because of really crappy internet access.. but although I haven't posted I've still been writing so I'm going to post a number of new posts today!
So back from Dar es salaam and back to work. I finished last Friday and went to Lusaka.. I stayed at Sanna and Alex’s and it was the first time I met them so it actual went very well all things considered. Sanna works for randstad and alex is a fundraiser in the UK. I got along very well with Alex. We have similar prospective on things. We went to majak (the cheapest and best Indian restaurant in Lusaka) on Friday night.. and there were about 30 people all sitting at 1 long table. Great dinner as usual and good company.. Nicolas and Elisa came as well. Annie and Estelle had a party that Saturday night so we were able to join in.. it was nice and then we went to Portico.. for dinner and drinks and went to see some sort of dancing from Mozambique.. kasimba? It was very nice and then Sunday we took off for dar. It was a short and easy flight over and we arrived and when straight to our resort.. It was right on the beach.. called Kipepeo lodge. Which means butterfly. It was a beautiful place right on the beach, our cabin was open air and the mattresses were on a riser and looked on to two French doors open to the outside and our balcony had a great hammock that I used every day.  It was $35.00 a night and included breakfast. Breakfast was nice you could have anything from a list.. eggs and bacon,toast etc. The following day we hired a boat to take us to a close by island. The island was very beautiful with tons of amazing shells on it. We were able to take some home with us as well.
We spend 6 hours on the boat and it took us to the island, we were able to walk all around it, we snorkelled and we ate lunch there... The snorkelling was a little disappointing because the water was so rough I was concentrating on making sure I stayed a float; but we had a good time.
The second night we went into dar for dinner.. dinner was at a really casual place.. I had chicken tandoori and it was the best I ever ate. The final night we went out for a really nice dinner...I ate the best prawns with garlic and chili’s. They were plentiful and amazingly delicious, good wine and of course good company all for $20.00 US.  We had a good trip back and we were in Lusaka from Wednesday afternoon to Sunday morning. Thursday and Friday I spent at Celim interviewing candidates for the branch manager and accountant roles.. it was fun actually and Saturday we went to the market, it rained all day and Annie and I wanted to go to a market.. we finally ventured out toward the end of the afternoon... we got 5 minutes away from the house and it started to pour rain.. We made it to the market and I found new running shoes but it was messy. It was raining very hard and the streets were flooded.. As I was walking down the street there got to a point where you couldn’t see the sidewalk and things were floating down the street. I decided to walk through it anyway and fell into a hole that was full with water and garbage up to my waste... when I got out of the hole I was missing 1 of my crocs.. some nice men  tried to fish it out  but couldn’t so I had to buy a pair of flip flops to get me home.. I miss my crocs! Lesson learned never walk where you can’t see without testing the ground with a stick or umbrella... too bad I hadn’t thought of that beforehand. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Half way through

I can’t believe we’re almost at the end of February.. I arrived here in Siavonga exactly 3 months ago.. I’m halfway through... I can’t believe it’s been 3 months. In some ways the time has flown by and this is my regular routine and on the other hand I still feel like the new kid on the block. I feel like it’s been a lifetime since I snuggled on the sofa with my husband, or kickboxed, or went to an actual grocery store and went shopping. The other side of me says this lifestyle is so easy to get used to.. it’s hard to remember my crazy life.. working all day, going to the gym and then being social. Thinking about it makes me tired... 
This weekend I’m going to Tanzania. I’m really looking forward to getting out of our “usual” routine and see something new and exciting, hanging out just with the girls and meeting new people in Tanzania..I met a nice guy in Lusaka who is from Tanzania and is going to be there at the same time we are so I’m hoping he can show us the real Tanzania.. Elisa lived in Tanzania for 3 months so she also knows where to go other than the touristy spots. I look forward to seeing the beautiful beach!
I am very thankful for my experience here in Zambia... I think if I had found VSO earlier in my life I would have become a professional volunteer. Coming to a new place, meeting new people, learning a new culture and working along side the local people to help improve their lives.. it’s addictive really.. new foods, new activities, it’s been an amazing experience and I know there is more to come.. I am really trying to look out my front door every morning and memorize the view of the lake so that when I'm in a stressful moment at home I remember what it feels like to be stress free and in the moment. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shit happens

So I always debate whether to post negative things or not.. not that there have been many negative things, but when I do have something negative to say I ask myself, in the grand scheme is it really worthwhile? I wrote this yesterday and then mulled it over all of yesterday and today and have decided to post it. 
 This morning I woke up to find we had been robbed the night before. I woke up and went to unlock our front door and noticed all of the stuff that was on top of my fridge was no longer there.. 2 bottles of olive oil which you can only get in the capital and it’s expensive.. a lot of the goodies my mom and husband had sent from Canada that I just picked up, my salt, sugar and other cooking oil.  My iron.. etc even the curtain that was covering that window. All of our windows have buglar bars.. however the window wasn’t locked and they opened the window and reached in and took everything, they even emptied my freezer of all meat and dinner pies that were there as well.
I have to say I’m exhausted and disgusted all at the same time.I’m off to the police to make a report,, which will do nothing because they’ll do nothing with it but it’s supposed to be done so I’ll do it.
I feel violated and annoyed at myself for not locking my windows..  but I keep being told Siavonga is so safe. I will miss all of the stuff my mom and husband so lovingly packed up to send here.. but I will miss feeling secure in my own home more.. I feel like someone was checking out the house for what they could take and came back in the middle of the night to steal all of our stuff.. 
So I went to the police to make the report I was there more than 45 minutes.. they filled out 3 pages worth of information and then the detective wanted to come and see the scene of the crime.. We walked to my house and he took a look at the empty freezer and bare top of the fridge.. and then said we’ll be in touch with you if we hear anything and if you hear of anything please be in touch with us.. I said no problem and off he went. I’m pretty sure I won’t ever hear anything more about it. The police told me that bolt cutters have been stolen from a nearby company and that there have been a few break in’s recently and they have stolen food when they have broken in.. I guess it could have been worse they could have cut through the burglar bars..so I have to just move on.. and let it go.. which is harder than I thought to do, I just keep thinking about all my nice stuff that I was going to enjoy that’s gone and then I get frustrated and sad all at the same time. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's day

So it's Valentine's Day in Africa. It's not as commercial as North America people where red and do nice things for their partners.. My partner is of course very very far away.. I actually said to him last week that today was going to be really hard for me because we haven't been apart for V day in 10 years. It's really weird to be in a country who doesn't commericalize Valentine's day.. but to be honest I miss the commerical-ness.. I miss the flowers and the going out for dinner.. In fact if I didn't say it's Valentine's day to some of my colleagues it might have gone un-detected. I just wanted to say to all the other volunteers who are away from their loved ones.. Happy Valentine's day.. and I hope that you don't feel too lonely.
I got to speak to my husband today and it was supposed to be a surprize but he is having flowers delivered to the city's capital because I'm going to be there this week. He had to tell me of the surprize because I changed my plans to go into town from Friday to Wednesday or Thursday and with the plans changing and my uncertainty he had to ruin the surprize.. but the idea was enough.. It made me realize how special my husband is.
If you are at home with your loved one(s) give them an extra squeeze and look at them in the eye and appreciate you're able to do it, because there are moments when Skype just doesn't cut it.. I miss my Puppy.. Happy Valentine's Day baby.