Two More Months to COS

In two months my Peace Corps service will officially close and I’ll be on my way back home to Oregon! This is both a very sad and happy thought. I will greatly miss the friends that I’ve made here – the wonderful friends I’ve made in the village, with the Peace Corps staff, and my fellow PCV colleagues. Not only will I be saying goodbye to these countless friends, but I’ll also be re-entering American culture. I’m told that going back to the states is generally a bigger culture shock than entering the country of service. After living in Zambia for more than two years I believe it. The technology and consumerism of America can be very overwhelming compared to living in a mud and grass hut.

I sometimes wonder how I will cope when I return. Will I go through something like PTSD? Of course I can’t answer this question until I get there. I will be returning home to wonderful friends and family, so that should help, but, despite how much you care about me, you won’t understand. My experience can only be shared through like experience. I can talk about what I’ve done and show pictures, but you will never really, truly understand. I’m telling you this now for two reasons. First, to help prepare myself, and second, to help prepare you.

I do have one advantage not all volunteers have. I have several Peace Corps friends here in Zambia from the Portland area, so I’ll have the opportunity so see them from time to time and talk about the “good ole days” in Zambia! In fact, I may do some traveling with one of these friends before returning home, so… I don’t yet know when I’ll be returning to the USA, but it will probably be sometime in May. I’ve hardly left the country and while I’m here in Africa I’d like to see some of the neighboring countries.

Enough of that, now current/recent news

With my time as a PCV drawing to a close I am extra busy. There’s a bunch of administrative stuff I have to get done. This means I don’t expect to have another blog entry until I return home to Oregon. Of course I might find the time, but now my limited time at a computer will be used to write my reports. Also, my time with friends here is more important to me than working on my blog. I do want to keep all of you informed, but the time with friends I have made here is limited and precious.

January 26th I wasn’t feeling well and checked my blood for malaria. It was positive so I began my three-day treatment – a series of pills that have to be taken twice a day. There was a 12-hour period that I felt pretty awful so I went down to Lusaka just as a precaution. However, I didn’t need any further medication and I had a speedy recovery. I felt fully recovered in less than a week. However, this did delay my birthday vacation.

February 7th I began on my trip up to Luapula Province to visit some friends, waterfalls and a huge lake. There is not much traffic in Luapula, so I decided I would ride my bike. This topic could be an entire post of its own, but, in short, I rode my bike more than 800 kilometers in 10 days. The longest stretch was day 3 when I rode 219 kilometers with Jesse from his house to Lake Bangweulu, Samfya. I can’t say I enjoyed that ride – much of it was more like torture over very flat, straight, asphalt on a mountain bike. I much prefer hills, twists and turns to make it more interesting. But the pain was worth the reward and the next day I relaxed at the beautiful lake without once getting on my bike! After a day of rest we rode 85 km to Mansa. From Mansa I continued on my own further north as far as Ntumbachushi falls, riding anywhere from 24 to 135 km each day. On my return south I did some riding but took transport when available. Yesterday I was in Serenje and didn’t ride at all. Today I have some traveling to do and don’t know how far I’ll end up riding my bike. I hope I don’t have to ride far as I’m looking forward to more than one day of rest for my legs to fully recuperate. So, other than a short bout of malaria and sore thighs I’m doing well!

That’s all for now.  I’ll leave you with three pictures from my trip. See some of you in a few months!

Jesse and I at lake Bangwelu Saturday night after riding 219 kilometers

Jesse and I at lake Bangweulu Saturday night after riding 219 kilometers

Lake Bangwelu Sunday Evening

Lake Bangweulu Sunday Evening

One of the many falls at Ntumbachushi Falls

One of the many falls at Ntumbachushi Falls

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