After over a month away from school I’m back in my village, Miangalua. I had such an eventful break! It is weird being back and for the first time in six weeks, I have been alone.
After my Early Service Training (EST), I went to see a couple of friends’, sites in Ruvuma Region. It is so beautiful there!! I couldn’t believe it. There were mountains everywhere and it seems like you are always on the tallest mountain, always having an amazing view of all the surrounding mountains. After over two weeks of traveling I needed to do some laundry so the first thing I wanted to do when we got to my friend Caroline’s was laundry. It felt like such a peace corps moment, visiting friends and doing laundry outside together. The next day we were going to my other friend Molly’s, but first we decided to take a walk up the mountain while our clothes finished drying. There was such cool area on the top of the mountain! There was a soccer field, big rocks that you can climb on everywhere, and you could see Lake Malawi. On the way down it started to sprinkle a little and a nice old man told us to come into his house and wait out the rain. We thought we could make it so we kept going. Maybe two minutes later it started pouring!! We should have known to listen to someone who has lived here his whole life. We ended up waiting in a doorway with a tiny overhanging. Lesson learned!
After going to Molly’s site and having the best dinner of banana bread and peanut butter, we went to spend a night at Liuli on Lake Nyasa (lake Malawi to anyone outside of Tanzania). If I think of Paradise, I think of Liuli. Luckily when we got into the village the owner was around so he led us to where we were staying or we may have never found it. We went down a street then kept going past a church after the road ended and it turned into a path. Then down the rocky path covered by trees onto the beach. We walked past the only two buildings I could see and at that point I was getting very confused. We were just walking on the beach with heavy bags that have enough clothes for the month of travel that we were in the middle of. Thank God for Joseph (the owner of the guesti), he was carry my rolling back on his head so I just had my back pack. Finally, after maybe 200m, we start to see some bamboo huts on the beach. Turns out that is where we were staying!! As we got closer we could see there were tables and benches made of drift wood. There was something that resembled a lifeguard chair except it was big enough for three and there was another bench below the raised one, all made from drift wood. It reminded me of what the contestants on survivor would build if they won a reward challenge and got tools. Being right on the beach and away from a big town we really got to see how life really is there. What I mean by that is we saw several people bathing down the beach, men were doing laundry, and we saw fishing boats made from hollowed out trees. Apart from the environment resembling paradise, the food was amazing!! It was Josephs birthday so I think maybe we got more food than the guests usually get. There was so much! I wish we were able to stay longer but we only were able to stay for one day.
Molly, Caroline, and my other friend came to see my site in Rukwa. My house doesn’t have enough places for four people to sleep though so we went and hung out with my site mate. He has bunk beds and a futon so it worked out perfect. After Ruvuma, Rukwa didn’t seem like it had that much to offer. But it was the first time I had been back since before Thanksgiving and it was so green!! It looked like a whole new place and I didn’t even recognize it. After a couple days it was time to start our big trips!
On Christmas Eve, I met up with some volunteers from the class ahead of us to board a train for Zambia. It took 24 hours, so we were on the train for my birthday (less importantly Christmas too). I was tired from traveling for a month at this point so I was in bed early. At midnight I woke up to people busting in our cabin singing happy birthday to me. It was cool that they did that since I had just met most of them less than a day ago. We got to Lusaka that night and then the next day we took a bus to Livingstone. We stayed there a couple days before heading to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. We walked across the Zambia/Zimbabwe border which goes over the bridge over the gorge. It was beautiful! We saw someone bungee jumping and it was scary just watching!! I definitely was seconding thinking whether that was really something I wanted to do. I had almost a week to think about it though.
When we got to our guesti in Victoria Falls there were already people from Peace Corps Mozambique there. Then some from Zambia also ended up staying at the same guesti. It was like a family reunion with people you didn’t’ know were in your family. It was fun comparing stories with them and hanging out for the week. For those of you who don’t know, the reason I was down there was for a music festival. It was really fun, a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be though. But it was cool hearing the South African DJs and meeting people from the different countries in Southern Africa. There were a lot of really safi (fancy) people there, it was way different than Tanzania. But this attracted a different crowd that the people I am around in Tanzania, so I can’t base judgments on my experience.
Besides the music festival, while I was there, I went into the park to see Victoria Falls from the Zimbabwe side. It was so big! I mean, I knew it was going to be, but you just don’t realize until you see it in person. I decided against bungee jumping, there just wasn’t time. I told myself I would want to come back again when I had more time. I was planning to take the train and it only leaves on certain days so I needed to leave. But then I was convinced to stay. SO I WENT BUNGEE JUMPING!!! It was the scariest thing I have ever done in my entire life! They asked me if I was ready while they were wrapping towels around my ankles. I think my exact reply was: “no, but I’m still going to do it.” Then I was on the ledge looking down into the gorge and they said “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Bungee!” I tried to jump off but I think I fell before they could just push me. As I was falling (for what seemed like forever, but they say is just three seconds) I turned to look up at the platform to make sure I really just did this because I still didn’t believe it. Someone somewhere has a picture of me turning and they say I look so peaceful, I was not at peace though. I need to track that down so I can share that with you all. As scary as it was it was still fun and I would do it again!
Now it was time to head back to school, since I was already technically late for the “report by” date. So I got back to school a week late and I was still there before all the students and most of the teachers. Now two weeks later most students are here, some are still trickling in, and I have started teaching.
Until next time, kwa heri!!