One of the nice things about some Peace Corps site placements in Zambia is the clustering of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs). Site clustering allows PCVs to be able to support each other, and it gives us the opportunity to collaborate on programs and projects. Although my site isn’t technically a cluster site, I do have other PCVs who live within my district.
A total of 5 PCVs live in our district, Mufumbwe. Kat, my closest neighbor, lives in the district capital, Mufumbwe, which is about 15km (roughly 9 miles) away from me. Kat is German-American and loves to sew. I visit her whenever I head into town to do market shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables and whenever I need to do some work at the Internet Cafe; this is about once or twice a month. When I spend the night at her site, we enjoy each other’s company over Cappuccinos or Vietnamese Coffee, as we cook extravagant dinners together. And by extravagant, I mean cheeseburgers.
Heading east, past Kat, is MarMar, who lives in Nyansonso, which is about 75km (roughly 47 miles) away from me. MarMar and I flew in together into Zambia, and out of our entire intake of 64 Health/Education PCVs, we were the only two in our language group, Kiikaonde. MarMar and I spent A LOT of time together during training, since it was just us two, but now that she’s so far away, I don’t see MarMar often. When I do, it’s nice to hear what she’s been up to.
And making a U-turn back west for about 140km, heading past Kat’s site and past my own site in Lubilo, you’ll find the other two PCVs living in Kashima East. Kashima East is about 45 km (roughly 28 miles) away from Lubilo. Chad and Aubrey (otherwise known as Chaubrey) are a married couple from New Hampshire; the nicest, most sincere, and querkiest couple you will ever meet in your life. Chad is an Education PCV; Aubrey, a Health PCV. Chad worked as an Adult Literacy Teacher back in the states, and Aubrey helped save lives in a hospital as a Registered Nurse. Whenever we get together, it’s always a good, memorable time, fully equipped with food, boardgames, and fun. They are both running enthusiasts, as well, so it’s nice to have them close so I can have some running buddies.
Kat and I traveled to Kashima East this past weekend to celebrate Chad’s 30th birthday, deep in the bushes of Africa! Kat brought some fresh vegetables from the market and I brought some Trader Joe’s goodies to share which were sent to me two weeks ago from my cousin back in the states. Thank you, Lynn! Love you!
Together, we rang in Chad’s dirty 30 with two pizzas, a chocolate cookie cake, snacks up the wazoo, movies, and boardgames.
We watched 21 Jump Street (super funny movie; totally missed this one when it came out back in 2012) and The Revnant (as much hype as it got, I didn’t really like it) and played Muchkin: Adventure Time (one of my new favorites) and Querkle (so fun!). We even snuck in a 15km morning run through brambles and bushes on Sunday morning. Chad and Aubrey are currently training for and running the Mt. Kilimanjaro Half-Marathon, and as many of you know, I’m training for and running the Victoria Falls Marathon in July (you can follow my training here!)
Chad, Aubrey, and Kat will all be finishing their service in August this year, so they’ll be leaving in 6 months time, and a new intake of Health/Education PCVs will be coming in when they exit. I remember the very day when I met each of these amazing PCVs, all of whom welcomed me with open arms into our district, Mufumbwe. They’ve helped me in more ways than one, showing me the ropes, answering questions and giving advice, and just simply being great, new friends. I’m so grateful for them and will miss them so much when they leave. You got big shoes to fill, incoming PCVs!