Clever reader, you’re too quick for my tricks. I suppose I DID mention that I came here for a job and not to luxuriously lay around in paradise. I’ll include a few notes on the office so far.
During the week, my day starts around 5:45 when I wake up to the sound of birds, draw a bath and make some coffee (when I’m feeling especially adventuresome, I have my coffee IN the bath–life is a little overexciting here and I’m still trying to shake my multitasking ways). After that, I get ready for work. It’s a 45-minute walk to the office on dirt paths, making the bath part slightly ceremonial, but the mornings are beautiful and many lovely, friendly Zambians on their own commute cross your path and greet you along the way, so I don’t mind the excursion.
The organization I’m working for specializes in logistics and medical commodities’ supply chain management (the art of getting medications/supplies where they need to go effectively). Saying that I have a lot to learn about the topic and the system here is a serious understatement. I’m spending this week in orientation, meeting the 80 some mostly Zambian employees and getting up to speed on projects. Luckily, being in the logistics business, everything about orientation is set up to get me looped in quickly. It also helps that, being Zambian, everyone at the office is incredibly kind, helpful and welcoming, which seems to be true of the entire city. People stop and make an effort to get to know you and really want you to enjoy your time here, encouraging you sincerely to come to them anytime for advice on work, the area or otherwise or stopping by your desk just to chat.
The office gets started at 8 and goes until 5:30 (or, here, 17:30hr) so it’s a good long day. After work, my roommate (and fellow coworker) and I are usually pretty exhausted so it’s dinner (and often wine) out under the night sky before reading and turning in for the night.
I’m told that Zambia outside the capital city, which is quite middle income, is an entirely different world and I’m excited to get to see that. With work, I will visit provincial areas for a week or so each month to conduct evaluations and trainings. I also hope to venture out on the weekends. A friend I’ve made in the Peace Corps is stationed in a rural village four hours outside the city and has promised to give me some real insight into African living when I escape Lusaka and stay over her hut for a long weekend. I’ll try to find a few other fun destinations to keep things interesting for any of you following along at home.
So far, I’ve had a wonderful transition. It helps that my roommate has lived in different parts of Africa before this contract and works at the same office. Also our Peace Corps friend, who is staying with us for a week now and a second week again in few weeks, has been in-country for a year and has left us with an incredible amount of advice along with her bush dog for a few weeks for watching. Both women are teaching me the ropes with the lay of the land in Lusaka (decentralized and confusing!), currency (5000 kwacha:1 dollar makes for a lot of zeros), local languages (Bemba and Nyanja) and overall have made everything so easy. I’m spending my free time reading, relaxing and getting to know these lovely women.
Other activities include some organized outdoorsy activities and weekend excursions into the local and ex-pat hangouts (bars, restaurants, maybe one day clubs). I also plan to start up French lessons in a few weeks at a French society, an activity that has been on my when-you’re-bored-out-of-your-mind to do list for a while now. I thought I would have gotten around to picking it up while living in Verona this summer but so far I’ve only covered my numbers and colors. Although French is not widely spoken here in Zambia, it would be invaluable in other parts of Africa and could prove very useful later on down the line. More importantly, I could speak French to Grandma B and achieve a lifelong goal. If I start getting really lonely, I could pretty easily fall back on buying a cheap wireless modem to use internet at home but I’m hoping to see how long I can go without.
Col, I hope your new home is treating you well so far! I’ll be looking for rainy weather tips when the wet season starts here in a few months. Jul and Maura, hurry up and join me on this international interactive party already! Hope your trip plans are coming together nicely. Your departures will be here before you know it! Everyone back home, looking forward to any and all words of encouragement!