Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Year Full of Status'

.......From The Bay Area

I can't believe I've been here a whole YEAR!!! So here's a year in review, as per all of my status updates* on Facebook. I never expected to have internet acces in Zambia, let alone in my village. And although my service comes and goes throughout the day, I'm usually able to get online at least once every day or two. As much as I wanted to disappear and go off the grid for two years, I'm really glad I've been able to keep a 'mini-journal' through my status updates, and share my adventures, happenings, and life with the world. 

We'll start with the day I completed Staging in Philly, then flew out of JFK in New York.
*noteworthy or favorites are centered

July 18, 2012
"Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us" -Sargent Shriver.

Peace out, 'Merica! You all mean so much to me, as does your love and support. Love to each and every single one of you. See ya in 2.25 years!

July 21, 2012
Im alive. Zambia is beautiful. I got placed in the best country in Africa!!! That is all for meow :0)

July 28, 2012
the rooster that lives outside my window cock-a-doodle-do's starting at 3:30am and does it every two minutes on the dot. Makes my 6am alarm pointless, good thing I go to bed at 7pm now though! And he will never let me miss these amazing, awe-inspiring African sunrises!

July 30, 2012
Monire! Mwaoka uli? I am learning the language of Tumbuka, which means I will be living in the district of Lundazi in the Eastern Province. I'm super excited to be going to Eastern, it has the best safari parks, the coolest animals, and the shortest rainy season! However, it is also the hottest, and will reach 120+ during summer time. Can you say no AC or fans?! Anyhow, use the google machine to find out more about where I'll be! Naonga!

July 31, 2012
Mountain biking through Zambia is probably one of the coolest things ever. Especially at sunset. Jusssayin. So stoked right now. I love my life!

August 2, 2012
Magone mokola. Zina lane ndine Caitlin Ambrosia. Ine ndine wa ku Amerika mu calo ca California. Ine ndine musambiri na wojipeleka. Ndine wotengwa yayi. Badada ku Amerika mba Vincent. Badada mba scientist. Bamama ku Amerika mba Mary Ann. Bamama mba computer administrator. Ku Amerika nili na ba bale yumoza. Ba bale mba Rachael ni ba dokatola. Ba bale bane wontengwa yayi. Nilije ba dumbu. ...and there you go, my typical introduction in Tumbuka

August 3, 2012
"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." -Eleanor Roosevelt

August 15, 2012
I eat my cornflakes with water. I bathe out of a bucket in the tall grass, surrounded by cows, goats, chickens, wild african dogs, and pigs. Said pigs attacked me one night bcuz of the sweet smell of my shampoo. I have learned more of an African tribal language in 1 month than I did of spanish in 3 years + growing up in MexiCali. I have had my headlamp, money, and sweeties stolen from me. I got malaria. I recovered from malaria. I sleep with spiders, gheckos, and who knows what else in my bed. I have been living in Zambia for one month now, but it feels like I've been here so much longer. It also seems to have flown by. I couldn't be happier.

Oh yea, and my dreads are freakin sweet.

August 23, 2012

I stopped giving kids high-fives after I saw one of them wipe their butt with their hand. I eat about 3 tomatoes a day. I've developed a fond liking of sardines. And fish heads. Cow hooves are very rubbery and taste funny. Diarrhea is a common conversation topic, everyone here has it. All the time (we use toilet paper, though, not our hands). The Milky Way extends across the night sky, and the thousands upon thousands of stars I witness nightly are astounding. Peace Corps Zambia has the highest alcohol consumption among Peace Corps world wide. They definitely sent me to the right place. I accidently stepped on and squished the insides out of my giant spider friend :( Caroline had a Green Mamba in her bed. I finally got my first letter from someone, and wrote back 15 pages. This means you all should write me letters so you learn more than my stupid weekly facebook and monthly blog updates contain. That is all. Mugone makola, it is 10pm and about 2hrs past my normal (Zambian) bed time.

August 28, 2012
so much greatness has occured these last 2 days! I met my Zambian counterpart, and he showed me pictures of the house my future village is building me: two bedrooms, an indoor kitchen and sitting area (which means you all must visit me since I have room for you in my Zamsion -zambian mansion). It is made of mud with a grass roof, and theyve already given me more than I would ask for! I will live in the village of Komsokoto, 3k from where my health clinic will be in the village of Kapichila. My catchment area (the people i will serve) is 13,380 ppl, and I will live on the compound of the village headman, my future 'dad', who is named Prince Charles! He has 3 wives, so I will have many Zambian mothers. I am a first generation volunteer, and they have never seen a white person before in their lives! My counterpart says I have one of the most rural villages around, and they have never seen electricity or solar panels or vehicles. I am located a 13hr drive from the capital of Lusaka, and will be 6hrs from my provincinal house where my laptop will be. Aside from my counterpart being amazing, i got my first two packages today, along with tons of letters! So thank you Mother, all my cousins out at the Country House, Darrick, and Charlotta Klarke! Today was like christmas and it turned an ordinary day into an exceptional one, just the pick up I needed!!

September 3, 2012
"Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love" -Dr. King

September 15, 2012
so there are these really cool flies here in Zambia called a bot fly, which are large and hairy and resemble a bumble bee. During rainy season, they lay their eggs in your wet clothes. And when you wear your clothes, the eggs burrow in under your skin, where they then hatch a maggot worm. The worm takes three weeks to mature, around the second week you will feel it become mobile underneath your skin, and the third week it pops out of your skin and goes and becomes a bot fly. Rainy season starts at the end of next month. Super stoked.

September 18, 2012

today for lunch my sister fed me tomatoes and sardines. They really know me.

September 20, 2012
every morning when i see a huge orange orb peak over the horizon and turn the stary sky into a multitude of colors, i fall in love. Every evening as that same orange ball kisses the horizon and sinks further away, allowing the sky to turn dark, and thousands of stars to appear- i fall in love. Every day I am reminded why I came here, how lucky I am to be in such a beautiful country, and that I have one of the best jobs in the world. I'm now two months into my service, and already can't imagine leaving in 25 months (sorry mom, im not coming home!) cheers from Zambia.

September 25, 2012

Today is my last day of language class. My host sisters pee on me almost every day now, so my clothes constantly smell like urine. I have eaten chicken and rice for every single meal (lunch&dinner) for the past few weeks. Africa is freaking hot, and its only getting hotter. This weekend is my sisters kitchen party, where I will get to stay up all night with a group of women dancing to drums in a sacred pre-marriage ceremony. A week from Friday I will be sworn in as an official United States Peace Corps Volunteer. Life is great.

September 29, 2012
hitchhiking two hours through the African bush in the bed of a pick-up truck with Courtney and 21 Zambians, to go dance to drums in some bushes during a sacred pre-wedding ceremony that can only be attended by women, where the soon-to-be wife will learn the secrets of the bedroom and how to please her man. I dont think i could enjoy life more right now.

October 5, 2012
I, Caitlin Ambrosia, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge my duties in the U.S. Peace Corps.

I am now an official United States Peace Corps Zambia Volunteer! Tomorrow I will begin my 23rd year of life and my two years of service to my home country and the people of Zambia. 


October 11, 2012

Here goes nothing! I am being posted to my new village today, and leaving behind the somewhat American luxuries of internet, electricity, running water, cold beer, and sit down toilets that I've been able to enjoy the last week and a half. To everyone that I got to Skype and chat with these last few days, I'm really happy to do so! To those that I didn't get to do so with, I will have internet again on Thanksgiving. But for now, write me letters (or packages if you're so inclined ;)) ! My new address is:

Caitlin Ambrosia
Box 530376
Lundazi, Zambia

October 17, 2012
zamtip #1: never throw anything into your trash pit that you dont want to see little kids playing with a few hours later. i.e. Razorblades.

zamtip #2. Dont take anything of value with you into your chimbuzi, it will fall down the hole of no return. Later while doing your business, you will always think of how youre taking a dump on your Raybans, or peeing on your once treasured iPhone.

October 20, 2012
the kids threw the black mamba that was slithering across my front yard down into my chimbuzi. Even though I watched them kill it and chase each other around with it first, I'm still terrified that it's going to jump up and bite my ass while I'm peeing.

October 26, 2012
if anyone wants to up the entertainment for me in my hut, you should send me a battery operated fly swatter. Also looking for thumb tacks.

October 29, 2012
i have internet in my village for once, so i feel as if i should update! Ive been living in the village of Kamsokoto, 'The People's Den' for 3 weeks now, and i love it! Ive been meeting a ton of people, weighing babies at the clinic, giving health talks, spending time with classes and teachers at the school, and collaborating on projects with my peace corps neighbors, who are only about 20 minutes bikeride from me. Ive made my hut my home, and am very comfortable with my new life, as is my kitten who I got to kill bugs for me but who is crosseyed and cannot catch said bugs. I go on a run through the villages every evening, and play soccer with my village kids each night before my bucket bath. My village thinks im insane, and they absolutely get a kick out of all the crazy shit i do. Its fun, they're always laughing at me! I finally have a rat in my hut, not that i wanted one, but knew they would come at some point and was wondering when id have to get used to that. My interwebz usually only lasts about 30 secs so thats why I havent gotten back to everyone who has been writing me! The Chief is cool, he's 26 and enjoys country music, but he still made me bring him a chicken to honor him when i met him. I think thats all- im healthy, im happy, but i might have worms. Yebo Africa!

October 31, 2012
every time im biking for a few hours through the sand to get to where i need to go, i think "maybe i should pretend im biking through the beach".. Or 'maybe ill pretend im biking through yosemite'... Then i think: I'm in freakin AFRICA, i get to be biking through tribal villages! Who else can say this? How lucky am I to have this opportunity to bike through Sub Saharan Africa? Still amazed everyday that Im actually here and this is my life, but Im still completely in awe and greatful. I can believe this is my life!! (currently dressed as a lizard hanging at the Castle with a bunch of Americans, eatin good and celebrating halloween)

November 2, 2012
just got back to my hut after 4 days of being away in town.. It rained for 3 of those days, so I was interested to see how my hut held up. Thankfully, it only completely leaks in 2 major areas. Unfortunately those two areas happen to be directly over my bed, and directly over where I store my charcoal. Bed is soaked, cant sleep there. Coal is soaked, cant cook anything! Oh well, such is life!

November 5, 2012
if someone was to send me a package filled to its entirety with nothing but m&ms and kitkats, i'd make them #1 in my Top 8. HINT HINT.
EDIT: This never happened. Still waiting.

November 6, 2012
seeing womens faces light up as I reveal to them that they just tested negative for HIV: priceless. 20 pregnant women tested and counceled this morning, all 20 negative! Thankful, for them and for me, that I didn't have to speak of a positive result.

November 7, 2012
every evening as the sun sets, i sit on my front stoop and write a letter to some random friend back in the States. Each letter is what would be my journal entry for the day, or a blog entry that id post if I had internet. Each week I go into town where there is a post office, and send out about 5 letters. So heads up if you gave me your address before I left, but never expected to get a letter from me- you've probably got one on the way! [and if any of you feel so obliged, you can type up the letter and email it to me so I do have things to post to my blog when i get on the computer ;) ]

also, I woke up this morning as the election results came in. My Zambian neighbors were happy, we did a dance. I celebrated my day like this: played soccer for 2hrs with the kids. Ate fresh mango, papaya, and kabesa. Planted about 30 trees around my hut to grow a live fence, read 1.5 books, went for a jog, and made chicken nuggets. Solid. 'Merica.

November 9, 2012
I went to town yesterday and ended up having to stay the night. I left this morning at 4am to bike the two hours back to my hut. When I returned, my host father came up to me and gave me a huge hug. As he pulled away from the embrace, with tears in his eyes, he said 'I have missed you and worried so much.' Wasn't even gone 24 hours and made a grown man cry.

November 12, 2012
How Zambians address me, in order from my most to least favorite: Caitelinni, Anya Kamanga, Amama, Muzungu, Madame, Sir, Eway, Booga.

November 13, 2012
It was a "Show-the-village-your-boobs" kinda day.

November 14, 2012
Today, I tried to tell a younger girl that she was strong. Instead, I told her I wanted to sleep with her. Kongona and Kugona are not the same thing. You've tricked me again, Tumbuka...

November 15, 2012
The cool thing about hitchhiking in Africa, is that I'm hitchhiking in Africa.

November 19, 2012
I think I just got married? Either way, the women threw me a kitchen party, taught me the bedroom dances, and sent me home to cook dinner and take care of my assumed husband.

November 21, 2012
TG in Zambia.. 70ish PCVs in one house. Copious amounts of alcohol and a swimming pool that we can show our knees and thighs at. This is what Peace Corps is about, yea?

November 22, 2012
Thankful for all of my families all over the world, from America to Zambia, Brasil to Romania, Ireland to Austria and everywhere in between. Glad to have so many wonderful people in my life in all corners of the globe! Multsmesc, Naonga, Zikomo, Obrigato, Gracias, Go Raibh Mile, Grazie, THANKS!

November 24, 2012
4 hr hitch hike = 4 hr lesson on malaria, hiv, and nutrition to some smart, and now even smarter, Zambian men. The coolest part was at the end of the ride when they repeated back to me all the things that they had never thought of, the new things theyve learned, and their ideas on how to apply that knowledge to their lives. Chyeaboii.

November 25, 2012
i wish you all could tune in to Chikaya Community Radio in Lundazi, Zambia to listen to The Very Fine Radio Hour show that I am currently on, talking aboot World Aids Day on Dec 1st.

November 26, 2012
you see.. The funny thing about a mud hut is that when it rains, the mud melts. Spent 11 days out of my village, all I wanted was to come back and sleep in my own bed. Hut is completely flooded, food storage is ruined, bedsheets, mattress, and suitcase with everything i own is soaked and molded. Three walls fell down, my wood bed frame is rotted, as is my ukelele, and my entire window fell out of the wall. My host mama is such a sweetie, she' been scooping water out by the bucketfull, cooked me dinner, and is letting me sleep on their floor. Be thankful you all are so spoiled in America.

November 27, 2012
popcorn for dinner and coffee with baileys. Sitting next to my fire underneath a full moon, listening to the crickets and the beating of drums. Clean sheets, a dry bed, and my hut to sleep in tonight. Oh the simple things!

November 29, 2012
why did the chicken cross the bush path?

To get run over by me on my bike.

Dinners up!

November 30, 2012
it turns out that while I was out of the vil, my 3 month old kitten fathered some new kittens. I cant believe how irresponsible he is, there is no way he is set to raise children at such a young age! Kids these days, I swear.. You cant leave em alone for one second.

December 5, 2012
spent the day yesterday driving around to villages with the Zambia National Blood Transfusion Service, taking blood donations. This might be completely sketch because Im in Africa, sitting under a tree in the dirt, and they dont use gloves, but.. I joined the Zambia blood bank and saved some lives. God knows America wont take my blood for a minimum of 5 years after returning from Africa!

December 7, 2012
and so the saying in Peace Corps goes: Volunteers who go to South America come back to the states politically active, volunteers who go to Southeast Asia return spiritually aware and curious, and Volunteers who go to Africa? They come back drunk and laughing.

December 14, 2012
I finally figured out which of my parents I look the most like... Shaved off all my hair, the hawk is gone and im now bald and lookin like my pops (minus a belly).. ;) Its not a good look for me so it's good that I'm in Africa and hair grows back! No pictures to come :)

December 15, 2012
village english lesson #1; what I teach my villagers:
Monire (rt- hello)- "howdy partner".
Muli uli? (rt- how are you?)- "I come in peace."
Mwuaka uli? (rt- good morning)- "top o' the mornin to ya."
now I need some Americans to come visit to see if my villagers greet properly, the way I taught them.

December 20, 2012

December 25, 2012
snowing for xmas in Africa! Jk its 90 degrees. And Santa doesn't know where Zambia is, apparently.

December 31, 2012
Today I helped deliver a baby.

I had pb&j for lunch with bread that I made from scratch (over an open fire, too, no oven!), peanut butter that I made, and jam that I made.

For dinner, I made bean burgers with fresh guacamole for my host family. All of these ingredients coming from the land surrounding my hut, mind you.

My garden is prospering! I will soon have Japanese Red, Spinach, Hot Peppers, Watermellon, Green Beans, Maize, Sweet Corn, Pumpkin, Beets, Onions, Tomatoes, Carrots, Okra, Thyme, Oregano, Chives, and Parsley. If anyone wants to send me lettuce and other fun things, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Last New Years I spent in Vegas. This year, Im in a mud hut in the middle of Africa and will likely be asleep by 8pm.

All of the wells around my village are dry. This means no water, which means poor hygiene, unsanitary conditions, and disease. I hear of about 3 funerals a day in the villages that surround mine.

I asked my villagers to write my name- Ketirini is what they came up with. I like it.

I think after Peace Corps, Im going to go on Survivor. And survive the shit out of it.

That is all. Cheers! 

January 2, 2013
annnnd it only took me 3 months to set my roof on fire.

January 3, 2013
things I'm looking forward to in 2013:
Friends and Family coming to visit me in beautiful Africa.
Running a half-marathon from Zimbabwe into Zambia across Victoria Falls.
Bungee Jumping over Victoria Falls.
Swimming in the Devils Pool.
Going on a safari.
Swimming with Whale Sharks off the coast of Mozambique.
Getting my scuba license at Lake Malawi and diving off Zanzibar, Tanzania.
Witnessing the Great Bat Migration in Zambia.
Movin it in Madagascar.
Helping run a Girls Empowerment Camp.
Chillin in Namibia.
Playing endless soccer, spending time with friends, making new ones, teaching a lot, and learning even more.

Anyone from home, feel free to come join me on any of these adventures. Also, if you want to ring in 2014 in Africa with me, this is my favorite time of year thus far. It's breathtaking-ly gorgeous where I live! 

January 4, 2013

you know how great it feels to take a nice hot shower after getting soaked out in the cold, pouring rain? Bathing with a cup and hot water while out in the cold, pouring rain does not have the same effect.

January 6, 2013
7 hr hitch into the capital today. Got picked up by an ambulance (and yes they let me turn on the sirens). They were transporting a patient who was healing from a crocodile attack. His arms and legs were completely mangled and he couldnt move a few of his fingers. I asked him, Ba Sir, how big was the crocodile? Bigger than the land cruiser we were in. more fishing in rivers for me!

January 9, 2013
I HATE BEDBUGS (get excited for your IST, RAP, cuz Great East Hotel is still infested!)

January 14, 2013
movie theaters, shopping malls, paved roads, street lights, pizza, ice cream, television, ice cubes and cocktails. I feel like Im in America, this is way too overwhelming. #imissmyvillagelife

January 15, 2013
even in Zambia kids think farting is funny.

January 18, 2013
January 19, 2013
annnnnd the trucker that picked me up in his Semi for a 5 hr hitch just asked me if I'm a satanist. Apparently my tattoo, white skin, and bald head make me a devil worshiper. This should be a fun hitch.

January 21, 2013

Doin my happy dance in Africa at 1 in the morning! Big ups to Big Mike Iupati! From the Idaho Vandals to the SF 49ers and now on to the Super Bowl! #9ersFaithful even in #Zambia!

January 21, 2013
heard a Zambian rap song where the artist was rapping about having 1 million kwacha. Congratulations dude, thats the equivalent to $200. Ballin.

January 21, 2013
my bus out of the capital was supposed to leave at 10 am. Its now 5pm. Only 7 hrs behind schedules. Only a 12 hour drive to make. Only been sitting on this bus for the last 8 hours being hasseled and yelled at and hit. Only missed a meeting, a soccer game, a skype date, and a crap ton of work and research I had to get done before tomorrow morning. Ill get into town around 3am if everything goes smoothly, and even then Ill be a ways away from my PC house, and traveling in the middle of the night alone. Officially fed up with Zambians that are not in my village. Lusaka sucks.

January 24, 2013
this is the best Christmas ever!! Got 7 packages today. Soooo much Americaaaaaa ahhhh! Thanks mama and papa and nana and uncles and cousins

January 28, 2013
my puppy's diet consists of termite mounds, mud, and sticks. All of which make up 95% of my hut. Adds a new meaning to being eaten out of house and home.

January 31, 2013
this morning I started out the day with a 40k bike ride, the entire way through mud, clay, and rain. I had to cross 5 rivers with water up to my knees, my bike over my head. I had to stop numerous times to clear mud out of my gears, and off my tires where it was caking up and adding weight. And did the guy I had a meeting with show up? Nope, he's coming out tomorrow instead. Now to bike home, and do it all again tomorrow morning. Touche, Zambia, touche.

February 1, 2013
Running through corn and sunflower fields that are taller than I am, working in my garden with my village kids, riding through rivers and getting muddy- life is beautiful

February 3, 2013
Zambians get all embarassed when I catch them pooping in their fields. I even wave and greet them so they have to awkwardly wave while trying to conceal the fact that I see them squatting. Good, maybe they'll support my mass hygiene project and get to digging latrines!

February 8, 2013
today I accidently chopped off two of my puppys toes. I have never felt like more horrible a person

February 11, 2013
sitting here popping what appear to be pimples all over my dogs body.. But instead of pus coming out, squigly maggots are coming out. Bot flies, you are a nasty, nasty thing.

February 15, 2013
Courtney and I are visiting Jesse at his site, all sleeping in one bed and he tells us, "yea, I've pooped in this bed before."

February 23, 2013

"you, you are beautiful woman! You need to make a love with me!"
"Ahhhh why not I have loved you forever! I must marry you, I need to have your kisses and your loves and your kids and you must cook for me! I love you so much my white woman!"

-The random man who has never met me yelled as I biked past him.

February 25, 2013
It's hard to keep the dirt out of your house when your house is made of dirt.

February 27, 2013
It's not even 10am yet and I've already washed my clothes, dishes, and bedsheets, swept and mopped my hut, weeded and watered my garden, bathed, ate sugar cane with the kids, played some soccer, painted a bike, and had my coffee and eggs. Now it's time to weigh some babies and take pictures at my Under 5 Clinic, then lunch and good-bye photoshoot for Morgan and his host family. Yesterday was a horrible day so hopefully today is better 

February 27, 2013
I just made the best cinnamon/nutmeg/vanilla/nutella pancakes with homemade banana/honey syrup. I should win some sort of I-live-in-a-mud-hut-and-cook-over-a-fire cooking show.

March 4, 2013
and the wind said, "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down." and it did. And so the little piggy who lived in the poorly built mud hut had to move in with her host family. day things will go smoothly here. Until then, rollin with the waves and understanding that I just get to experience things a bit differently than other PC volunteers!

March 6, 2013

just 3 more weeks till I can go get Shisto swimming in Lake Malawi and one month till Ill be relaxing on the beautiful pirate beaches of Mozambique. Awwwyeaaa.

March 7, 2013

there's something about squishing through cow manure in your bare feet...

March 7, 2013
i just witnessed my 3y/o brother put his penis into my dogs mouth and proceed to pee.... Uhhh...okay r kelly.

March 10, 2013
I made the mistake of looking down my chimbuzi. Never make the mistake of looking down your Chimbuzi!

March 11, 2013
I've planted over 60 trees in my village and around my hut since being here. And I just spent all morning teaching villagers about the importance of trees and planning ahead. Now we're clearing a field and I'm starting a wood lot, so that in 10+ years, there will be enough wood for their children to build homes and cook food. #shouldabeenaLIFEvolunteer

March 14, 2013
I come into town so I can get my reports done, write some blogs, and email everyone back as well as attend to other important things I need my computer/internet for.... and I end up spending the whole time on FB trying to catch up with everything.

March 16, 2013
I've felt like I've really made my hut a home with all my decorating and paintings that I've done, and while I'm sad to see all those go.. I'm going to have such a fun time doing demolition by kicking down all my walls and slamming sledgehammers into them. I'm getting a new house! Once the rains stop we'll start moulding and laying bricks for a brick chicken coop, a brick porch, a brick bathing shelter, and now a brick house! so excited, I'm moving up in the world

March 20, 2013
sometimes its easy living in Africa, most times its really hard. But i enjoy that at the end of the day, I can walk down to my garden and pick some fresh carrots, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and green beans that I've grown and make a healthy meal to sit down and eat with my host family. #toughtimes, #stillsmiling

March 21, 2013
do Albino Zambians (or are they Zambian Albinos??) get called muzungu's?

March 22, 2013
bugs and worms infesting all my food and all i do is think: protein.

March 23, 2013
idk why I thought my puppy could run 20km with me into town, but he did it!
Bot fly maggot removal count: 32. Now he goes to the vet for 2 weeks to get the other hundred or so taken out of his skin, while I go to a workshop, then the doctor, then LAKE MALAWI! Ahh cold beers and scuba diving 

March 23, 2013
literally just gave a sick girl the clothes off my back. There goes my U of I Alumni sweater, my absolute favorite and only hoodie. (p.s., does someone in the Scow want to send me a new UI hoodie?? :))

March 23, 2013
19 hours and 6 vehicles later, I finally made it to the capital.. Which isn't even half way across the country. Another full day of traveling tomorrow, just for a one day conference. Weird to think Zambia is only the size of Texas; infrastructure really makes a huge difference!

March 26, 2013
Got a ride with a man from Zimbabwe named Matikila. His name means "don't ask, just give". He told me, "if you see a sick person, you shouldn't question if he needs help, you should help him justly. If a man is hungry, you should give him food without questioning it." lovin all these crazy African names that have a range of meanings.

March 27, 2013
Was just seen by the sexiest italian doctor.. And it was even sexier when he told me that my wrist is broken.

April 2, 2013
malawi in a status update:

scuba diving, skinny dipping, hollowed out tree canoes, dancing all night every night, running at sunrise, cold beer, foreigners, bomb food, non stop drumming, chillin speaking tribal languages with the locals and a little bit of R&R in the gorgeous village of Mayoka on Lake Malawi.

So exhausted after vacation but time to get back to the vil cuz April is mad busy and my best friend comes in May

April 4, 2013
Step 1: fall off bike and break wrist. Step 2: get back on bike. Step 3: find its difficult to ride said bike with one arm in a cast, a puppy at your heels, and a rack full of luggage. Fall off bike, break other wrist? Or cancel all my meetings and hang out in town in a comfy house with electricity? Hmmm. The choice is difficult.

April 5, 2013
I now have a nice little family of mice living in my hut itd be nice if my cat did his job rather than just getting all the village cats pregnant!

April 6, 2013
All of my good friends are ending service and returning to America.. And they're replacing my 3.5 male neighbors with ALL GIRLS. Seriously Peace Corps?? Im tryin to find my future hubby. Not happy && gonna miss you guyss (and Colleen!!)

April 7, 2013
I've taught my 3y/o brother to say 'I love you'.. So now every morning and every evening he comes in my hut, kisses me on the cheek, and says 'I love you A Caitilinni'. Omg im dyinggg.

April 8, 2013
Today I turned the pumpkins from my garden into: pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin mash salad, and lots of pumpkin seeds. My village doesnt know how lucky they are to have the campfire/brazuer master chef living amongst them!

April 8, 2013
it feels good when I get to tell grown adults that I'm disappointed in them, and then see them turn everything around and show up with their ENTIRE comittee at my next meeting. It feels better when they come and tell me after my lectures how much they enjoyed it and how much they learned. And it feels even better when I see them applying what Ive taught them and making healhty lifestyle changed. (and okay, it even feels a little good when they call me Boss.. I've always wanted to be a boss!..."yes boss!")... And it also feels good when I can bike over 15km away and people I've never met all greet me by my name. The perks of being the only white person around! #successfulday

April 11, 2013
was walking from my friends house yesterday and a Zambian woman stopped and asked me "imwe banakazi panyake banalume?" Are you a boy or a girl?... At least she asked? Most common phrase said to me "hello little boy!"... Thanks Zambia! #whydIshavemyhead?!?

April 11, 2013
Here in Zambia, death is embraced as a part of life; its not something that is feared. I knew Id be surrounded by death coming here, and it's not easy working at a health clinic and seeing so many people that are ill, when a lot of the disease here can be so easily prevented or treated, yet they just dont have that access. Its hard to hear every other day about another funeral in a nearby village, and its even harder to hear that a young child has passed away, rather than someones grandparents who have had a chance to live their lives. It hit me hard when, only 2 months into being in Zambia, another volunteer, Paul, with whom I was close, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack. Today upon returning to my village, I've gotten news that my 33 y/o female counterpart passed away last night. She was my best friend at the clinic, an outstanding nurse and midwife, and she kept me laughing everyday at work. I helped her deliver a baby on New Years Eve, she's taught me all about being a midwife, and many new words and sayings in Tumbuka. She constantly made fun of me, and told everyone I was her sister. She was so full of life, and I'm greatful that she quickly became one of my favorite people and my favorite clinic staff member. This is really hard, and I imagine things like this wont get any easier over the next few years.

April 12, 2013
my 3yo brother is running around the village in nothing but a thong... And its definitely not mine, so idk where he got it!

April 12, 2013
just looked down to find a large tarantula at my feet.. Which caused me to scream.. Which caused all of the village kids to come running to my rescue and kill it for me. Im so glad I have a bunch of 8 year olds here to take care of me.

April 13, 2013
I love teaching people about health! And i love that people respect me enough to show up to my meetings at 8am on a saturday! And ummm.. I love my job!

April 14, 2013
went for a run and got completely lost for an hour and a half down some random bush paths. At least it made me run 15km! Are you ready for this Half Marathon MaryAnn Ambrosia?? 3 months till youre running from Zimbabwe to Zambia with me across Victoria Falls!

April 15, 2013
A Zambian man asked me who my favorite actor was. I didnt want to think about it, so I said Will Ferrel, since the last movie I watched (and my favorite) was Anchorman. He said "Yea, I know Will Ferrel. You look just like her." -.-

April 16, 2013
What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us, what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.

April 19, 2013
I always think I love showering after dark, under this amazing night sky lit up by thousands of stars... Until I wake up in the morning and my ass is covered in mosquito bites.

April 22, 2013
Spent the weekend camping out in the African bush with both American and Zambian friends. Woke up this morning at 5, biked 2hrs home, grabbed my stuff, then biked an hour to teach for 3 hours. Then another bike ride, 3 more meetings, then an hour back into town and an hour back home. Only 3 flat tires, until I completely blew out my back tire, broke my bike rack, bent my frame, and had to zamrig it all back together with electrical wire.. Biked a total of 90km today, and to top it off at an even 100, I just got home and ran 10km.

I'd like to give a shoutout to my legs. Good work today, legs.

April 23, 2013
After our Technical Support meeting at my clinic, we sat down to lunch with a huge pot of chicken and two different pots of goat. After I finished eating all three different meats, they told me the second goat was really dog.

#thoughtIlivedinAfrica #didntknowIwasinAsia

April 23, 2013
Alright all you giving, selfless, soccer-loving people Ive got a village mens soccer team I've been working with and teaching for a while here, and now theyre working hard and for free to build me a new house, new bathing shelter, and a chicken coop all out of bricks. They have asked if I could find their team some jerseys, and I said I'd try and find a sponser for them! Theyre looking for 14 mens jerseys, they dont care which color or style, they just want to look like a team! Message me if youre interested in making some village teens dreams come true and Ill send you the deets :0)

April 24, 2013
My little brother, Jonesi, ran into my hut at 530 this morning (i dont lock my door at night) and jumped on my bed shouting "I love you A Caitilinni! I love you A Caitilinni!" What a way to wake up

April 26, 2013
Tumbuka word for sex: nyere. Tumbuka word for poop: nyera. Dont get them confused.

April 27, 2013
This month has been full of Malaria for me since day 1. From training all 7 of my Neighborhood Health Comittees and Community Health Workers on how to teach about Malaria in their villages; creating a Malaria Childrens Book and reading it to school groups and village kids across my catchment area; writing blogs about Malaria; going hut to hut and teaching people about proper use of their mosquito nets and then taking pictures of them under their hung nets to create a photo 'wall of fame' at my clinic; working with local drama groups to create a Malaria skit and go between villages performing it; holding my own World Malaria Day Event on April 25 that was attended by over 70 locals along with 3 Village Headmen, the Group Headman, and the Chief- complete with True and False quizes, net hanging relays, and a net distribution; to a one hour radio show solely about Malaria (who knew an hour slot wouldnt be long enough to spit out all my malaria knowledge?); and finally Ill end the month on the 30th, working with the District Health Office to commemorate World Malaria Day at a nearby school by having a malaria-information booth. The information and preventative measures are out there, and Ive no doubt disseminated it to the masses this past month. But something still isnt clicking here: the behavior change. It was a sad day when my counterpart and clinic nurse, who diagnoses, educates, and treats patients for Malaria on a daily basis, passed away this month from.. Malaria. Why should a health professional, who has all the information, has the tests, and has access to the treatments still die of Malaria?? Our work is nowhere near being done in the fight against Malaria here in Africa, where it is the #1 killer, and takes hundreds of thousands of lives per year. This is a PREVENTABLE DISEASE. My "Malaria Month" might be over as I turn to different health issues in the coming months, but the fight is definitely far from over. And in the 30 seconds it took you to read this status, a child under 5 passed away from Malaria in Africa. Can we stomp out malaria in our lifetime? I hope so.

For more info, check out my blog at
or 'like' the StompOutMalaria FB page and find out what your American Tax dollars are doing to save lives in Africa. 

April 28, 2013
Today as I sat down to lunch with my Zambian friend, he ventured to explain to me why some Zambians are rich, and how they got their money. He told me they use juju and witch craft to do it, by going out into the woods and digging up the roots of a certain tree. They then take those roots and mix it with water in a bucket. They use that root-water mixture to bathe themselves, allowing it to flow off their bodies into a basin at their feet and collect again, so they can reuse the same water to bathe the next day. They wash themselves with this water every day for a month, and at the end of the month, there will be a small catepillar floating in the water. But the catepillar will not continue growing as a catepillar, it will grow into a very large snake instead, that that person is then able to control. They will then send the snake to steal money from other people. While the snake is gone, they will take a razor and the same root-water mixture, and carve certain symbols into their arms and chest. When the snake finds the money, (and not just any amount, but specifically 2.5 billion kwacha rebased) he will eat it all, then return home. The person will know their snake is coming home with the large sum of money because their carvings on their arms and chest will tell them. When the snake gets home, it will drink the root-water, and then vomit up all the money. And thats how one becomes rich in Zambia.

I'm sure glad someone finally explained this to me.

April 30, 2013
when I was a teenager, and I used to complain about how unfair/hard/horrible my life was... My mom should have sent me to live in a mud hut in Africa.

May 1, 2013

My day was ruined at 8am when I biked into town to get a ton of work done by taking advantage of this public holiday and my day off... Only to find out that everything was closed because it was a public holiday. No bank, post office, or district health office errands completed. Its a good thing the bar was open though, and has supplied me with a steady stream of beer since 10 this morning, while I sat on my computer and typed up 14 pages of 5 different blog updates. Unfortunately, the internet is down and I can't post any of those said blogs, so they're waiting in a word doc for a while. Oh well, win or lose, there's always booze! (updates, albeit drunk updates, coming soon.)

May 3, 2013
"So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism; all of which may appear to give a peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun." -Chris McCandless, Into the Wild.

May 4, 2013
my 3y/o host brother and I get into the same argument multiple times a day, every day. It goes like this:
"I love you A Caity!"
"I love you A Jonesi."
"I love you too A Cait"
"I love you more A Jones"
"No I love you more A Caity" and so on.

This little boy stole my heart. Hes definitely moving to America. He is my child. 

May 6, 2013
There are families of pigs with their wee piglets running all across my village, ducks with their ducklings all in a line, wort hogs, chickens, some hot chicks, guinea fowl and cows grazing freely. And there goes my dog, chasing them all. Then we've got naked African village children, running around chanting. And Mr. Jonesi is a freakin comedian, cracking me up all day long in my hut. Who needs a TV? I've got Animal Planet and Comedy Central right here, and my life is freakin Nat Geo

May 8, 2013
Theres more of my roof on the ground surrounding my hut than there is on my actual roof, due to the recent wind storms. I punctured my tire and had to walk all the way to work this morning. Not a single staff member, nor community volunteer, decided to show up to the clinic today, leaving me alone with three seperate programs scheduled. My first workshop training that was to begin today was an absolute complete failure. My water filter just broke, and Im out of charcoal. But all this is okay, because tonight I get to play sunset soccer with my mens team. A week from today I get to partake on a 125 mile bike ride in one day to my Procivincial Capital for a meeting. In exactly 3 weeks Ill be waiting in Lusaka for my best friend in the entire world to step foot in Zambia and spend two weeks with me doing crazy things Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi.. and in two months my Mama and Papa ku Amerika will be joining me for some wild African adventures as well. Bad day, cant put me down.

May 8, 2013
I cant believe that I just had to sit down with the kids and explain to them why they are not allowed to poop or pee on my floor.

May 9, 2013
I'm upset because my bike is broken and the guy who said he'd come fix it 7 hrs ago never came, so I had to walk 5 miles in this hot african sun to go teach teach a lesson
that only 5 out of the 82 people that signed up actually showed up for. I'm thankful because I'm not a pregnant Zambian girl with a baby tied to my back and a pile of firewood on my head, walking 10 miles in the hot African sun to a treatment program at the clinic that the staff might not show up for. Every time I think things are tough for me, I realize how much harder things are for them.

May 10, 2013
Typhoid outbreak where I live. Lets see Zambia, you've given me malaria, meningitis, staph infection, parasites, and full body rashes. Am I going to find out what typhoid is like? (I will second-hand, from working at the clinic; don't worry fam/friends, I'm vaccinated)

May 12, 2013
When I chose to come and live a life on Earth, I had to make sure I had a perfect portal in which to arrive from and to care for me. That's why I chose Mary Ann Ambrosia as my mother she's the best!

Shoutout to all my second mothers out there, from my friends parents that constantly put me up in their house and let me raid their cupboards, to my Auntie Mommy and the rest of my wonderful Aunts who influenced and played motherly roles in my life, to my amazing Grandma who had to put up with MY DAD (so sorry Nana), to the host-mothers I've got around the world from Ireland to Austria to Zambia, and to all my mama friends out there.. and of course mothers of my spirit children, who let me steal their kids and pretend they are mine.

Also, Happy Future Mothers Day to myself, about 14.5 years in advance.

I think that covers it. 

May 14, 2013
125 mile bike ride camping trip. Ready.. GO!

May 20, 2013
Covered from head to toe in bed bug bites. Thanks again, Eastern Prov house & Africa, I really appreciate scratching all my skin off, not to mention lookin realllll good with red bumps all over my head/arms/torso/legs/feet.

May 21, 2013
This is the first time my living conditions here in Zambia have made me break down and seriously consider leaving the village life. Was laying in bed and heard some noise in my hut so I got up to check it out. Walked into the other room and saw all of my walls were literally black, crawling with ants. Looked up, saw the same on my ceiling. Looked down and saw my legs and feet were covered in ants, and each step i took left the only bare space of floor, which was soon filled with the little black creatures. Ran outside yelling, to notice my entire hut was black, as is all of my surrounding grounds. Theyre not just any ants, they're fckn biting ants. Im sitting here in a corner of my host fathers house almost in tears, but am finding some humor in the 20+ adults and children that are jumping and screaming around my hut spraying chemicals while being bitten. Trying to kill every last ant that is currently sinking its teeth into my skin while I debate calling PC and telling them to get me out of here. I hate you tonight, Africa. Take me home :(

May 22, 2013
Just had the biggest cry fest with my host parents when I had to tell them I'm leaving the village. It got even worse when my host mom, who doesnt speak a word of english, told me how much she loves me and begged me not to leave, all in broken english through her tears. PC is pulling me from my vil. My heart is absolutely broken.

May 23, 2013
Shout out to my super awesome, amazing, hard working, inspiring Aunt Susan, as tomorrow she gives a TED Talk!! She was born in Brasil, raised in 'Merica, then served as a Peace Corps Education Volunteer in Brasil in the 60's. She now resides in Brasil and owns and operates a Childrens Discovery Museum, which I got to go work with her at for a short stint after finishing college. Its such an amazing museum, and an unprecedented learning opportunity for the children and families that get to visit and explore there, at For The Children. Good luck tomorrow, Aunt Susan! Love you and can't wait to be linked to your talk so I can watch man, my family is the coolest. — withSusan Murray.

May 25, 2013
My hut is back in working order (for now, until it rains again), I'm excited to be able to sleep in my own bed again tonight. My boss comes out to visit tomorrow and we'll discuss my living situation and if/where I'll be moved. Too in love with my village to leave it, I think I can put up with this crap for 17 more months just in order for me to stay.

Had too much fun on the radio yesterday, and a blast at my local Agriculture Show today. Brought my SLR, got some pictures of Nyao Dancers, Muganda dancers, and everyones Ag stands, then we had a local Zambia vs Malawi futbol match. My clinic also had a stand at the show, where we did malaria and HIV tests, took blood pressure and weight, passed out vitamins, weighed babies, had a demo hanging of a mosquito net, and distributed mosquito nets...never stop teaching.

I also scored 10 trees for the equivalent of 4 USD! What a steal. Cant wait till my hut is surrounded by jungle, in like 15 yrs when I cant enjoy it.

Tomorrow I play with glitter with my village while doing a hygiene lesson, and will build tippy-taps (hand washing stations made from local village materials). Then I pack up and get ready to go because.. MONDAY MY VACATION STARTS!!! I'll be in town for one night if anyone wants to skype, then my Emily lands in Zambia on Wednesday, we take over Victoria Falls, do some white water rafting on the Zambezi, and snuggle with lions in Zimbabwe. Next she gets to visit my village, where I will make her work harder than I do (shhh), and we'll finish it off with a nice romantic weekend in Malawi

no more negativity.. I've got too many reasons to smile!

May 26, 2013
Im moving.. To chipata town.. Which means endless internet, real non-village food, and a black hole for my miniscule volunteer stipend.

May 27, 2013
I'm having some difficulties.. yesterday I crashed my bike into nothing, just did a front flip over my handlebars and landed in a tangle of gears, tires, bike chain, and bike frame; felt like I sprained my broken wrist, and today I'm too sore to turn my neck. Then on my run today, I fell twice, from tripping over rocks. so I've got some nice torn up palms and forearms.. I need to go back to the basics- training wheels and crawling!!! Seriously.

May 30, 2013
learned my lesson.. Dont set your bag down. Was taking a picture with a baboon when he casually got up, walked over, grabbed my bag and ran off into the jungle. SLR camera lenses, walltet, phone, ID and alllll my money. GG monkey.

May 30, 2013
Enjoying endless tea, pastries, and finger sandwiches on the bank of the Zambezi river, surrounded by monkeys and zebras in the classiest establishment I've been in in quite some time, the Queens Royal hotel, with my hunny a day spent ziplining over the Zambezi river gorge, getting soaked by the largest water fall in the world, being robbed by monkeys, and laying on a zebras back. Tomorrow entails an elephant-back safari, walking with lions, and cuddling with cheetahs. Yea, our life's cooler than yours. I know. Sorry we're not sorry. — with Emily Kate Swiger at The Royal Livingstone Hotel - Victoria Falls Zambia.

June 1, 2013
I got bit by a lion. I rode an elephant. And i ran with a cheetah.

June 2, 2013
White water rafting on the Zambezi. Capsized the raft, hit some major rapids, was thrown overboard, got to float down a stage five rapid while waiting to be pulled back into the raft, did some cliff jumping, saw some crocs in the water with us, and a herd of 10 elephants walked right in front of us grazing. This. Is. Africa!

Now we board an Bpm bus, get to LSK at 2am, board another bus at 4am, get to Chipata at 11am, hitch hike to Lundazi, then ride bikes to my village. Em and I are exhausted, and we're on day 4 out of 14!

June 12, 2013
Dropping off Emily at the airport and seriously considering swiping my parents credit card and hopping on this flight back to 'Merica with her. I miss home so much, and now my little bit of home away from home is leaving me im in limbo for the next month or so until I get a new house built, so it's only practical that I go back to Cali for a bit, right??

June 12, 2013

June 13, 2013
Just spent two hours laying perfectly still in an MRI machine to get pictures of my wrist... Because the technician forgot I was in there and went to lunch. Oh Zambia, you're so good to me.

June 14, 2013
Honestly... I'm just tryin to find a husband who's down to live the expat/backpacker lifestyle and travel everywhere around the world with me, with no intentions of returning to or settling down in the US for a very long time. Is that too much to ask?

June 15, 2013
Fingers crossed for our Chipolopolo boys to beat Sudan today and qualify for the World Cup so I can go from watching them play in Zambia this year to watching them play in Brasil next year!! EDIT: They lost. No World Cup for Zambia.

June 18, 2013
the orthopedic surgeon says I need surgery on my wrist, but I have to see a specialized surgeon because the surgery I need is very rare. He says he suggests only 2, and one of them is the best in the world with this specific surgery. That guy is in Milan, the other is in America. I doubt PC will let me go to Milan, but either way, I'm getting a PC paid for trip to some country other than Zambia for surgery & recovery.

June 26, 2013

Because getting a tattoo in Africa is legit.

July 11, 2013
I'm leavinnn on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again! PEACE OUT ZAMBIA, WHATS UP ALL-EXPENSES-PAID TRIP TO SOUTH AFRICA!!! — feeling fresh.

July 15, 2013
Yesterday as I was going through the security check at the airport, I set off the metal detector. I pointed to my wrist and told them that my cast has metal in it. The agent just looked at me and said "oh okay, go ahead." Perfect, because really I was carrying weapons grade plutonium. [made it to South Africa, Peace Corps forgot to pick me up at the airport, & a military officer tried to rob me.]

July 15, 2013
Surgery this week -> 1 week in a splint -> 6 weeks in a cast -> 6 more weeks in a splint = I'm not allowed to ride a bike = I cant get to my site = I cant do my job = Peace Corps throwing around the words "Medical Separation" = not a happy Caitlin.

July 16, 2013
washed my clothes in a washer AND dryer today, then had all-you-can-eat sushi for the equivalent of $13 (which is 6 more dollars than I make in a single day), now drinking delicious south african red wine ($2/bottle) and watching Dexter.'s the little things.

July 17, 2013
It was exactly a year ago today that I hugged my family and best friend goodbye. A year ago tomorrow, I signed my life away to the Peace Corps. A year ago on Friday, I started my new life in Zambia. And I'm celebrating my 1-year anniversary by being put under anesthesia in a foreign country, having my first ever major surgery, and will be waking up all alone in a hospital for 3 days, where white people speak Africaans and not English. Cheers.

So there we have it. A year in the life of Caitlin in the Peace Corps Zambia, as per Facebook status updates. When I think back on my whole service thus far, I think very positively about it, and only a few incidents stick out in my mind. But looking back on my status', I see how much crazy stuff has happened to me over the last year; all the emotions, all the ups & downs. I also see how much I've accomplished, whether it was integrating into my community, learning a new language, learning a new lifestyle, teaching others, and being flexible beyond belief. I wouldn't trade this last year of my life for anything. Even with the negatives, all of the positives pop out further in my mind. It has been such a crazy, amazing, wonderful experience. And I am so excited to see what this second year brings! Heading back to my village, all fixed up- my wrist, my hut, and my heart. I'm so amped, relaxed, reset, motivated, and happy. <3

 To Zambia......

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