Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jack Fruit

Timmy is holding half a jackfruit. Many people have never seen this fruit before so I am dedicating this blog to it. Later today we are visiting the waterfalls near us and there is a big jackfruit tree there.

Oh, sorry I cut off the top of his head. I never claimed to be a photographer. Tom is the visual person in our union. I could totally be a great photographer but I think that spouses shouldn't compete so I leave the awesome camera work to him. I'm a good wife that way.

Jackfruit is huge! Can you see that there? It is like a massive watermelon but spongy rather than hard. I think this saves it when it falls from the tree it grows on. I can't imagine being under a tree when this thing decided to fall. Good thing Newton was sitting under an apple tree. If this had fallen on his head we might be living in a completely different world not knowing why we couldn't jump really really high. But I digress....(as usual)...

Maureen (one of our staff members) is processing the fruit for us today. It has a very pungent smell that fills the room. It is very sweet and tropical smelling. Is 'tropical' a smell? If so, it is very close to the scent of this fruit.

First Maureen pulls out the little seed pod. The goop (for lack of a technical term) surrounding the pods is very very sticky. That is why she is wearing gloves. Apparently if enough gets on your hands only kerosene will take it off. Ewww! I always pull them out very carefully. Or I get someone else to do it. Delegation, people!

Next Maureen peels the seed pod. That thin, yellow stuff she peels off is the edible part. The white and brown lump is the seed. Not good for eating. The red bowl behind there is the waste and the clear rectangle container is the yummy stuff. Not a whole lot of food from that huge fruit but completely worth it.

And there you have it. The finished product. Now, how to describe the taste and texture of jackfruit? It is hard to do but I'll give it a shot. The first time I ever tasted jackfruit I was living in India and was about 10 years old. Just as someone was handing me my section of the fruit there was a power cut. It was completely dark and as something was placed in my hand I thought my friends were playing a trick on me and had handed me a banana peel instead. It is waxy and smooth. The fruit is chewy and a bit stringy. Little bits can get stuck in your teeth. But never mine! I'm completely ladylike and never have stringy bits in MY teeth. Ahem.

Jackfruit is pretty sweet and you can only eat so much before reaching your saturation point. Maybe that is why God put it in a package that required you to work hard for it and eat it slowly. Hmmm, food for thought.

Until next time, may God bless and keep you on your own personal adventures.



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mutomboko part 3

In the afternoon of Mutomboko Saturday we gathered all the kids together and sat in the corner of the playground in our little gazebo to watch the crowds stream by on their way to the arena. This meant that the Chief would soon be passing by in his grand procession.

Thankfully this year the Mutomboko committee not only graded the dirt road leading to the arena and passing directly past our house but they also watered it several times to help control the dust. In years past we had to close all the window and still dust coated everything.

The kids were so excited to watch all the cars and trucks passing by. They would call out: blue truck, white car, etc. This silver car had them a bit stumped.

I found this woman fascinating as she walked by carrying her three-legged stool on her head. She was all set for the ceremony at the other end of her long walk. I could never do that! Poor lady though, as soon as I took the picture she looked over and saw me with a camera and took the stool down. She must have thought I was making fun of her.

"No, Lady, I was admiring you! I'm sorry!
" Now she probably ended up with a backache and it is all my fault. Great, now I have guilt!

Henry was hilarious as he got so excited about all the people and the traffic.

Unfortunately for him he only had one syllable with which to express himself. Da! So he would pat my arm and say "Da Dah" (excuse me) and then "Da!" (look). He did this for the entire time.

Here is Elias with his sweet smile right before the Chief's procession passed by and his lost his smile completely. Poor little guy! You'll see why in a minute.

There is the chief passing by. Do you see him suspended above the crowd on his royal litter being carried by his indunas? The nannies were really excited and were waving their hands and yelling, "Mwata" "Mwata"! As the chief is carried he has men that run alongside him and periodically shoot off muzzle loaders. They are really loud and it frightened some of the kids terribly including little Elias.

There is T.J in the green shirt right next to Petronella's elbow? See him? He had awesome placement in the crowd running right alongside the Chief.

Here is little Johnny. He loved the muzzle loaders. He told us the story afterwards, "Bang! The chief got broken. Hooray!" Umm, not quite, Johnny. Something got lost in translation....

The crowds continued to stream past even after the Chief came by. They were all heading to the arena for the main ceremony which includes long speeches and traditional dances.
This heavily overloaded truck had a joker on it who yelled out as they passed by: "Hello, Ba Na Impundu, why don't you make monkoyo? Ba Na Impundu means mother of twins and is my nickname here. Twins are highly regarded in this culture which is a little rare. In some African cultures they consider twins to be a curse.
Monkoyo is the local maize beer. The local people have a hard time understanding why I, as an influential member of this village (ha ha), don't make beer to share with the masses.

After the procession had passed by and the traffic had slowed way down a crowd still lingered at our gate. Apparently we were now the main attraction.

This reminded me of the times, shortly after we moved to Africa, when we would visit a little zoo and botanical gardens on our day off. We would walk round the zoo doing the tour with everyone and then make our way to the tiny pool for a refreshing swim. The funny thing was that our fellow tour goers would follow us to the pool and stand completely around it watching us swim. No one ever got in but some of the brave ones would call the kids over to take a picture with them. We often considered collecting an exhibit fee.

And now let me leave you with this sweet picture. Little Jennifer was completely caught up in the excitement of the afternoon but had no idea what it was all about. She was dancing to the sound of the drums from the procession and the ceremony that followed.
I wish I could share the video with you but my camera saves in Quick time and my Windows Movie Maker won't accept it. I apologize for my lack of computer savvy. Anyone out there in cyber space have an idea for me?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mutomboko part 2

A beautiful sunrise greeted me as I woke early Saturday morning to begin preparations for all our guests and the days' proceedings. While this picture won't win me any prizes I hope it gives you an idea of the beauty I enjoy. The sky is a big part of my source of inspiration here. It makes me really happy!

The first time I traveled up to this area I was pretty overwhelmed with the size of the project we were taking on and the thought of leaving my cozy nest in Ndola, surrounded by friends, and heading into the unknown. That night at our lodge there was a power cut so everything was black. My good friend Kate and I walked outside to get some fresh air and looked up to the most amazing sky I'd seen in a very long time, if not ever! There were stars going on and on and on. They were blanketing the sky and curved around like a giant IMAX theater. I knew then that it was all going to be ok. The same God who hung the stars one by one in this vast universe was taking care of little old me way out in the dry and dusty bush.

Anyway, enough of that. Back to Mutomboko. That's why you came, right?

Jasmine and Troy were my steady helpers through the day as we made desserts, chilled drinks, boiled eggs, chopped veggies, etc. etc.

Jasmine's picture is a bit blurry because she and I playing a game taking candid photos of each other and trying to catch the other off guard. Obviously, she won! Just look at that pretty smile!

This is a picture of our dining room looking into the kitchen. I love love love the new paint color. It warms the rooms up and makes them a happy, inviting place to be. The paintings were done by an artist in Lusaka. They are huge and just what the space needed.

While we were busy cooking and prepping, Tom and the boys had also gotten up early and gone into town for the first ceremony. The first event takes place outside of tow
n where The Battle of Katele took place a couple hundred years ago. It is about 20 miles away from the village center. The chief rides in a truck and then walks to the battle site to give an oral history of the tribe. He drinks beer and sprinkles a white powder on the ground. During key parts of the ceremony Chief Mwata's guards shoot off ancient muskets and this whips the crowds into a frenzy.

As with most celebrations in rural Zambia, beer plays a big part. The beer is made from maize and boiled up in huge metal drums days in advance. Because of this the crowds can get pretty wild.
On this particular occasion, Tom, the boys, our manager, Nkandu, and our gardener, John had all driven out to the battle ground. As the ceremony finished and everyone tu
rned to head back home, the crowds began pushing and shoving onto any available vehicle hoping for a ride back home. Our gardener is a very good bodyguard at times like this and he proceeded to push people away from our car so Tom could drive.
One man, however, refused to take a hint and grabbed onto the Landcruiser and hung on for dear life. Tom was shouting to the boys to help John. Timmy was pushing the man off, T.J was using his foot to pummel the man's grip on the car and John had a death grip on the man's shirt. Still he wouldn't let go. In the process, Timmy got whacked in the face. Our manager hopped out to help and was pulling the man from behind and still he hung on. Finally Tom jum
ped out of the vehicle and it was at this point that the man let go. Tom jumped back in and the boys slammed the door shut and they drove off leaving our poor manager to finish the fight.
This was the first brawl the boys had ever been in and they were pretty excited. As a mom I was less than thrilled but was glad they had stood up to the challenge and not cowered in a corner.

Here is Timmy returning happy and excited from running with the crowds during the main procession. Spain has nothing on us. They just run with the bulls. Here we run with the chief, the crowds, the indunas, the headmen, the drunks and most importantly--the dust.

More tomorrow. Coming next: Mutomboko part 3: The Procession and the Kids

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