Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vic Falls

My friend, Debbie, is leaving tomorrow. Le Sob! I can't believe nearly an entire month has flown by. We have had so much fun together--don't make it stop. And! I haven't even had time to blog all the adventures yet. Our mini-vacation at the beginning of her visit is still being documented. I hope it isn't boring you too much but this is how I'll know it really happened 6 months from now when we're really and truly pining for each other. Wait! I just realized I'll be able to see her in 6 months. I'll tell you why soon.--I hope.
And now, on to the adventures!

Vic Falls. That is what the cool people in the know call Victoria Falls. They were named that by David Livingstone when he 'discovered' them in 1855. The natives of course had known them for years and called them by the name of Mosi oa Tunya (The Smoke that Thunders). This is because the Zambezi River rushes into the gorge with such force at high water season that the water sprays back up into the air, turns into a cloud-like mist (which can be seen from miles away above the treetops) and then falls like a monsoon rain. It's amazing!

Debbie and I looked at them first from one side of the gorge and then walked around to the top of the falls. 

Here you can see the mist obscuring the view of the other side of the gorge.

The deceptively peaceful river before it reaches the waterfall's edge.

Debbie looks down at the edge of the waterfall and wonders how many have attempted to go over. 
Interesting fact: When the water level is low--at the end of dry season--you can walk across the top of the falls.

We had decided to view Victoria Falls au natural without any rain gear. We knew we'd get wet but thought it would make the adventure more authentic.

As we headed down the path we met a young lady who strongly suggested we head back and rent the ponchos and Crocs. She said even with that protection we would end up wet.

We're glad we took her suggestion. The outfits were goofy with the rental people first putting a garbage bag over us and then a poncho but it made the experience more fun.

I'm claustrophobic and the thought of being encased in 2 layers of plastic including a hood that obscured my view made me a little crazy. I said my prayers as they dressed me and then opted to leave the hood down and take my chances.

This is the first viewing point. So far so good.

This is the second. Already we were in monsoon-like conditions with 'rain' pouring down on us.

I risked this one last photo with my camera in a ziploc bag and then decided to put it away for safekeeping.

We were so grateful for the Crocs as we crossed a narrow bridge that was a solid rush of water. 

We inched across carefully and just stood in awe at the majesty of God's creation. If you'd like to see more photos of the waterfalls google it and you'll agree that God did good! We said that this type of experience really helps you to appreciate the word awesome in connection with the holiness of God.

We finally made it safely out a bit wet but so so happy.

A little extra treat as we left the park was watching this huge baboon attack jump on a teenage girl, walking right in front of us, so he could steal her bag of potato chips. An interesting mini-adventure to round out our day. I bought a little wooden baboon for Debbie's desk to commemorate the experience.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Bloggiversary to ME!

It has been one whole year since I first put fingers to keyboard and typed the story of our Mutomboko Festival. I had no idea what I would write about every day but I've been amazed at how many stories there are to share as well as what everyone finds interesting.

The first time I got a comment from someone I didn't know personally I did a little dance. How exciting! People, real people who didn't have to love me, enjoyed my stories. Who knew?!

It really does help that I live in a place where the unusual is fairly usual. Not many other people can say that their pet monkey stole their car keys out of the ignition. It's true! Yesterday Tom found his car keys on the gravel driveway by just happening upon them. We weren't even aware they were missing yet. We shudder to think what might have happened if Kanono had taken them far off into the trees or garden! 

I started out simply with the blog and am gradually getting bolder. There are still many things I need to learn. Any long-time bloggers out there that want to help me learn more--please let me know. I have questions!
SITS has been a big help over the past year. I learned from them how to make a three column layout and so many other tips.

Thank you all for reading and following the adventures. I love sharing my life with you! It makes me feel that I have a community supporting me. What a treasure!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sundays in My City--Vacation Day Four

I have so much to say regarding Raphael and his passing and the medical system here plus some good news regarding the care we're able to give babies here. For now though, please sit back and enjoy photos from one of the most beautiful places on earth!

The day we took the bus down to Livingstone we had booked a sunset cruise to see the wildlife along the banks of the Zambezi River as well as to see the sunset (of course!). As the day passed I realized we were cutting it close in our arrival time at our lodge where we would be picked up by the van that would take us to the boat. We called Jollyboys (our backpackers lodge) to tell them our expected arrival time. They assured us we would be in time.

As soon as our bus arrived in Livingstone we hurried to the lodge and checked in. They said the cruise van had just left but would be right back for us. We changed and then waited outside. and waited. and waited. Finally, we went back inside and the lady at reception called the company only to find there had been a mis-communication and the boat had already left. No!
No worries though. The van came back for us and told us we would get to take smaller boat out on the river to catch up with the slower moving cruise boat.

As we drew closer to our boat we saw elephants on the shore. Because we were in a small boat we were able to get right up next to them. 

Aren't they beautiful?

I was worried about how to get from the small boat to the larger one but there was a convenient little ladder. 

The cruise was really nice with a three course 'dinner' and unlimited drinks included in the package. Everyone milled around taking pictures and having a good time.

We saw impala on the shore and do you see the holes in the side of the cliff?

That was home for these brightly colored birds.

Very exciting for me was seeing hippos for the first time in the eight years I've lived in Zambia.
Did you know they are considered the most dangerous animal in Africa?

Debbie had a great vantage point when she climbed the stairs to the captain's level.
I had to pretend I was five years old and crawl around between people's legs.

The sky was too cloudy for a perfect sunset but we'd see that the next day.
As it was the scenery was amazing!

Sadly, I missed out on getting a good shot of the waterfall's mist billowing up above the treeline. It is what David Livingstone saw when he first caught a glimpse of Victoria Falls and saw why the natives called it Mosi O Tuna (pronounced Tune-ya) meaning-- The Smoke That Thunders.

Check out more pictures from around the world by clicking on the button below.
Unknown Mami

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Thought I'd Seen Everything!

I'm still in shock hours later. 

It took me solid minutes to even be able to verbalize what I'd seen. 

And for me that's a record.

Tom thought that I was holding myself in reserve for the sake of our guests and that if not for them I would have been screaming, shouting and throwing things. 

I'm not sure......I think I was in too much shock to do more than sit with slack jaw and barely speak.

What is it that got me so upset?

Well, I will tell you the story:
Today while we were eating lunch I saw the kitchen helper take one of my steak knives out to the wash room where she was preparing food for the nannies' lunch. Because I prefer for her to use the proper knives for each job I followed her out to tell her to choose a different knife.

As I opened the door to the wash room I saw the lady in the corner of the room with her skirt hiked up and her hands between her legs. My first thought was, "What the heck is she doing with my knife??"
 When I asked her what on earth she was doing she produced a can and said, "I'm sorry, madam, I am urinating." (This room is less than 50 yards from a fully equipped bathroom with three toilets) 
When I found my voice I asked her why on earth she hadn't used the bathroom. She replied, "I apologize, madam, I failed to go to the toilet." 
I had no words to say but managed to sputter: "Well, go wash your hands right now!!"

This all took place less than 3 feet from the food she was cooking for the nannies.

I honestly sat in stunned silence for minutes on end today and I don't think anything can erase that image from my brain. What would you have done in my shoes?

*Update* I should explain that the knife was safely lying on the counter and not involved in this woman's misdeeds. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Vacation Days Two and Three

The continued adventure of my recent mini-vacation:
After eating dinner Sunday night I found out that some good friends were in town so Debbie and I headed over to the chinese restaurant where they were eating to say hello. We negotiated with the taxi driver to take us to the restaurant, wait 30 minutes and then take us to our hotel. After agreeing on the price we headed out. 
The restaurant was located in a place called the Showgrounds where during Agricultural Week it is packed with booths and shops but the rest of the year there are just a few business scattered around the different fields along winding roads. At night it is a bit  dark and spooky even though some of the best restaurants in town are located there.

We got a bit nervous when the taxi turned toward what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse. He started to drive up a ramp into a deserted room. I admit freaking out a bit at this point but then we turned and there at one end of the warehouse was the restaurant.

The entire seating area for the restaurant was upstairs. Only bathrooms were downstairs. --I posted a picture of a sign from these bathrooms a couple weeks ago.
That sign to the right of the photo is for a local African beer (ale) and yes, it is very common to have advertisements painted on the walls of businesses.

Remember we had negotiated with the taxi to wait for us for 30 minutes. Well, when we got to the restaurant he told us that he needed to go put gas in his car but that he'd be right back. We told him we were concerned that he would neglect to come back but he insisted he would be right back. 
Well, thirty minutes went by, then forty. Every time I called the taxi he said he was on his way. Over an hour passed without an appearance. We were getting a little worried. It was quite late at night and he also had a blanket in the car which I'd purchased earlier. Finally he called and said that he was outside the showgrounds but the security guards wouldn't let him in so he was coming in on foot to collect us. We started walking and boy, was it scary. Here I was with a relative newbie to Zambia trying to stay calm and reassure her that "sure, this happens from time to time. Nothing to worry about." We eventually met our driver and walked to the gate and he drove us safely home. Another adventure tucked away.

The next morning we went to the bus station to travel to Livingstone to see Victoria Falls. 
Debbie was eager to find a coffee shop, and look! we did!

The shop attendant asked if Debbie wanted the styrofoam cup to have a cover and when Debbie said yes, she peeled off some Saran Wrap and covered the cup. 

Our bus was advertised as a 'luxury coach'. This meant it had only four seats across instead of five and......(drumroll please)......airconditioning! Debbie was so grateful for the latter about halfway through the trip.

I was surprised to see so many Muzungus (white people) on the bus. Living out in the bush you forget how many tourists come to Africa. When we visit Lusaka with all the embassy personnel and tourists and missionaries we have to hold ourselves back from yelling and pointing: "MUZUNGUS!!" 

The bus ride was pretty much absent of adventures. I did see a drunk in the back of a pick up truck in front of us try multiple times to climb out of the moving vehicles. The other fifteen people crammed in the back with him kept pulling him back in. That was entertaining.
Then not so entertaining was the fact that the bus company chose to show a slasher movie (after first showing Rendition) as the 'on-board' entertainment. There was an American family right at the front of the bus with all these little kids. Thankfully the bus conductor finally changed the movie to G-Force. Much better!

You'll have to come back tomorrow to see what adventure awaited us at the end of our trip.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ngombe, Community Projects and Thali Plates

The same day that Debbie arrived we headed to N'gombe. A shanty town, called here a compound or township, Ngombe is a crowded housing area or 'neighborhood' right in the middle of Lusaka. It is a 10 minute drive from some of the most luxurious neighborhoods and shopping centers in Lusaka.

I sometimes feel that the people living in these compounds have it worse than those living in rural villages. While they may have more access to jobs, running water, and (possibly) electricity, they are living in horribly crowded conditions with terrible sanitary conditions. Wells near open toilets and no place to grow fresh food is just part of it. I also wonder how demoralizing it is to live so close to people who have much better lives than you and not have any hope of accessing that for yourself. 

This is a typical general store.  
Those little plastic bags on the left are filled with tiny amounts of  rice, cornmeal, sugar and salt.
People buy what they can when they can.
The bottles on the right are filled with cooking oil.
I can see the original container but you have to be careful;
you don't want to buy oil that has been mixed with stolen transistor oil.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me when I visit N'gombe is how happy the kids seem to be. They play in the streets like this little boy who had invented a game of blindfolded sack racing. 
There he was, happy as a clam, hopping from one end to the other of this yard.
There is a lesson here for us, isn't there?

This little boy is hanging on desperately to his childhood despite being the designated babysitter for his baby brother or sister. Check out his car made from scrap plastic bottles.

We were in N'gombe to visit the project that Debbie and I had worked at the first time we met. Tom and I had worked with this community school for a couple years and Debbie came out to do some teacher training.
This was the original project that Tom and I moved out to Africa to help with. We worked with them full time for a couple years and then once they were established we moved to more part time help to give them time to grow and become a strong, independent charity. 

 Debbie and I also organized a library for the teachers to use in their classes. It was good to see the books still there at the school with the little colored dots we worked so hard on 6 years ago.

When we first arrived at the school we heard loud music and singing and found these teenage boys rocking out in one of the classrooms. Their lyrics were simple--pretty much just Jesus and Savior and--but their dance moves were pretty good. Most importantly they were having a really good time.
Pastor Sakala has done an amazing job with this community project. When we first met him ten years ago he had less than 200 students and just a couple classrooms. Now he has resident orphans, 600 students, a hospice and clinic and this church building. (They carry benches in from the classroom each Sunday)
It is so refreshing to see a man who works hard completely by faith to care for those within his own community.
After spending the afternoon in Ngombe we went out to eat dinner.  Looking over my pictures and remembering my evening gives me a pang of guilt. After describing the poverty that surrounds so many people how could I go out to eat?This is a common dilemma when living and working in Africa. You can give and give and yet you'll still have more than those around you. You can feel bad about it or you can realize that you can only do so much and enjoy the gifts God has given which sometimes includes dinner and fellowship with a good friend.

This is my one of my absolute favorite places to eat dinner in Lusaka. The restuarant is Mahak and I always, always, always order the Thali plate. It is 3 different Indian dishes plus rice, yogurt and chapatis or naans. You can have all you want of any of it. The three dishes are determined by what the chef decided to cook that day. It is always vegetarian and oh so delicious. It's also very affordable and is considered the everyday food of India many times. If you come to visit me I'll make sure you get a chance to try this. So, when are you coming?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sundays in My City--Vacation Day One

Unknown Mami

Ok, so I'm kinda cheating on this one because number one, this isn't really my city and two, this all took place two weeks ago but a) I don't even live in a city but a village so what's a girl to do? and b) this is my blog and I can write what I want. Hah!

Our volunteers, Summer and Hannah, had wrapped up their month long stay with us at the orphanage which was wonderful--their stay, not that it was over--and I accompanied them on the bus and got them to their airport on time.

 Amazingly, just after they walked through the security and check in gates my friend Debbie showed up at arrivals. Funny how that works! Lest you think that there was some kind of cosmic coincidence going on, we actually planned it that way. It's true!

Debbie and I had been planning this visit for months. We (she) pored over all the websites and booked flights and planned activities. We were both so excited! One of the things she had asked for was that I meet her with Starbucks at the gate. We had a good laugh about that because the likelihood of Starbucks opening a store in Zambia before her arrival was less than nil. But, good friend that I am I decided to make something happen.

Here it is! Zambia's own version: Sturbacks! Oh, yeah.

Trouble was, I hadn't taken into account my ability to get into trouble coupled with my clumsiness and inability to juggle multiple bags and cameras and hot beverages with any type of skill. 

Witness therefore the result:

I'm telling you! If I were a different sort of person I could totally own a sweet little coffee vending cart right now. There was no sign on the cup or anywhere nearby stating that the double shot espresso with added hot water was dangerous and not meant to be poured onto your person. 

Anyway, all's well that ends well. We checked into our hotel. Six years ago when Debbie and I met on her first mission trip to Zambia we stayed at this very hotel. We were excited to stay there again. The room was cute with African Zebra print that just happened to match Debbie's luggage. 

See? You can hardly see her suitcase.

Here is a better shot. Isn't that cute?

 Tomorrow: More trips down memory lane and a trip to my most favorite restaurant in Zambia.

Take a tour with people around the world at Unknown Mami's Sundays in My City.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I Feel Special!

I've been interviewed! You can read my questions and answers here at a website called Say Anything by Dee

Go check it out and then come back and tell me what you think!

I really enjoyed doing this assignment because I got to look back over things I've written over the past (nearly) year and also remember why I write this blog. I hope you enjoy looking through all the links and getting to know me a little better. If you have more questions you'd like to ask submit them in the comments or write me an email and I'll try to answer them in the near future.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Geek Mothering Fail

This week we celebrated Timmy's 17th birthday. One year before 18!! How did this happen??

Anyway, Timmy decided he wanted to have a Green Lantern cake. I told Jasmine that I would look it up on Google so I knew what the face looked like. She gave me a funny look and said that, no, it was a symbol. Oh. This should have been my first clue....

Once I found out it was a symbol I thought I'd have an easy time of it. Simply a circle cake with 2 rectangles on either side. Done!

We settled on carrot cake made from scratch. Homemade cream cheese became delicious icing. Way to go, Mom!

What was that you said? Pride comes before a fall? Well, you might have said something earlier!

The cake was assembled. Strawberry yogurt served as a moistening and delicious filler between layers. I got out a kite that showed the Green Lantern image and copied it exactly. Just as I finished trimming things so it looked perfect Jasmine walked in. 

Jasmine: Why are the side rectangles tapered?

Me: Because that's what the Green Lantern symbol looks like. (Duh!)

J: No! That's the Justice League Green Lantern.

M: Oh.

J: Just stick the pieces you cut off back on and we'll cover it with icing.

M: Umm, I already ate them....

So, we moved forward. Can't cry over eaten cake now can we?

The icing was gorgeous. Beautiful, creamy white loveliness. But that wouldn't do for a Green Lantern cake. So out came the colors. After the first addition of green it looked perfect for a baby shower cake. Nope. More green. Now it looked summery. Still not good enough. I had an idea. Add some black. We did just a drop and sure enough it looked much better. Let's add a bit more. Oops! Now it looked like green-purple mold. Not quite the color we were looking for. 

The more we worked on it the worse it looked. I felt like we were in the middle of a sci-fi or horror movie. Would this icing morph into a monster?
Aaah! Attack of the (Surprisingly Sweet) Swamp Thing!

Adding a bunch more green finally worked. We iced the cake and were ready to sing.

It looks like I still have a ways to go to be the perfect Geek Mother. But at least the kids know I try.

Happy Birthday, Timmy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


We had technical difficulties yesterday. Sorry to keep you waiting.....

While I was traveling last Tuesday Tom called to tell me a new baby had been brought to the orphanage. His mom had just died and he was 3 months old. I asked them to send the baby's family to get the necessary paperwork from the Social Welfare department as well as get a check up for the baby from the clinic.

The next morning everything had been done and Raphael joined our little family. I asked Jasmine how he was and all she could say was that he had big eyes.

When I got home on Friday morning I found out Jasmine was right. Those are some eyes. Raphael was also very tiny. I weighed him in our clinic using our trusty fish scale. He weighed only 3 kg. (6.6 lbs) at 3 and a half months old! I looked over his paperwork and found out that he has been exposed to the HIV virus. According to his grandfather, Raphael's mother was the victim of sexual hit and run--his words. Raphael's father had not been involved at all and married another woman. When a child has been exposed to HIV in utero the normal procedure is to start them on an antibiotic to help keep infections away since their immune system is most likely compromised since the mother's immune system was not doing its job.

I noted that Raphael was eating well--3 ounces at a feeding--and keeping it all down. For his size it wasn't a bad amount. Saturday morning the nanny informed me that Raphael was starting to cry about 30 minutes before his feeding scheduled every 3 hours. I told her to increase his formula to 4 ounces since he seemed able to handle it and did look pretty miserable.

That evening Debbie told me she thought that he was looking listless in the afternoon. When he joined us for Family Playtime I immediately saw that he was not doing well. I didn't know whether to be sad or proud when Jasmine took one look at him and could tell he was dehydrated. I was proud of her for having that knowledge but sad that at 14 years old she has been around enough sickness to spot it right away.

We immediately called for the village medical officer to come up and put in an IV. About an hour later he showed up and we got to work. We started the examination in the dining room using the table directly under the light but then moved down to the clinic.

The first step was to get an IV line in so we could administer fluids as well as antibiotics. Miraculously we were able to get a line going on the first try.

Debbie was a real blessing holding a flashlight and shining it wherever it needed to go. We had a light in the clinic and electricity (Thank goodness) but it wasn't really bright enough for the work we needed to do.

Here Debbie is watching the IV drip carefully. Such tiny babies can go into cardiac arrest if the fluids go in too quickly. This is one of the things that keeps me up at night when we have such sick babies. I constantly monitor the drip rate because it can change depending on the angle of the needle, the activity of the baby, etc.

Here Raphael is finally all fitted out with his drip and splint to keep it in place.

After getting fluids in him Raphael began to perk up a bit but is still a pretty sick baby. The following day we introduced a third antibiotic. The next morning (today) I had the medical officer insert an NG tube allowing me to feed the baby with a syringe. Raphael has been so weak that he hasn't been able to suck much from the bottle. The NG tube gives me a way to continue to feed him all the milk he needs. I offer him the bottle first for about 15 minutes and then I use a syringe to push the rest of the milk through the tube. 
He had two tube feedings today and it made an immediate difference. He has been crying more and letting us know his needs. This afternoon he drank two ounces by himself and I only had to add another ounce through the tube.

He is still quite sick and needs plenty of prayer but I am cautiously optimistic. I will continue to update you as time goes on. Thanks for praying!
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