002: Posting

Buy this plastic bucket, buy these plastic bins and buy those plastic plates. Buy three sizes of nails, buy two kinds of brooms, buy one piece of art.  Buy things you need. Buy bars of chocolate, bags of chips and a big box of wine.  Buy things that make you happy.  Spend all your money; you won’t need it where you’re going.  Buy, buy, buy, and write your name on everything.
This was the advice she had received from other volunteers as she prepared to post. Over time extensive lists where complied of things new volunteers should buy before moving to their permanent site.  Chelsi herself had diligently prepared a list over the three months of training. Buy kerosene for the stove and the right size mattress.  She wondered if some things she would ever really use, while making choices when buying other things was a stressful matter.  There was no limit to the amount or size of things she could buy;
“Four bags of cement and one writing table, please!”
Peace Corps Zambia is special, they still did things the old fashion way: a cruiser ride directly to your site with all of yours things.  Chelsi had heard that this had changed in a lot of the other Peace Corps countries, so far as to have heard from one RPCV that he had been glad that he had brought only two small carry-on to country because the only ride he could find to his the site of his permanent home was on the back of a motorcycle. 
Though for Chelsi this lingering luxury had created a conundrum.  She stared at all of her things now piled up in front of her new house.  House was a loose term.  Most of the volunteers in Zambia do live in houses; a spacious 5 by 6 meters, made of mud brick plastered with clay and lime with vents to let the light in and smooth cement floors.  Chelsi was to now live in a hut.  It was not that the grass thatch was starting to slide off the roof or that the doorway was too short or that there was more termite tunnel than wall or that the floor was filled riddled with holes or that with no effort she could stand in the house and see clear over the wall and under the roof to the outside, or that the structure was a mere 2.8 by 4.3 meters measured from the outside; it was all of these things combined that lowered her new home to hut status.  She had been told by the Peace Corps volunteer leader to think of her new home as cozy.  It was certainly going to be cozy sqeezed in with all of her stuff.   
The moment the cruiser pulled away her new host brothers started haphazardly shoving things at her to put in the house.  They were driven by the idea that the less the neighbors saw of her things the better,  but there was also no way it was all going to fit just thrown in. 
As she was getting her host brothers to back off so she could organize, her host father walk up.  He appeared older than he probably was, with grey hair and whiskers.  His skin was starting to sag around his face but his eyes were big and round giving him an open and welcoming appearance.  He walked slow, he spoke slow, “Welcome, you are moving in to a nice place.  No one will come and steal your things.”  Chelsi had heard that his English was limited and since she was not in the mood to exercise her kiikaonde she simply smiled and nodded, “I’m happy to finally be here.”
“But do not leave you water bucket out when you are not home because someone may come and put poison in them.”

Categories: Action, Adventure, Thriller | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “002: Posting

  1. Kirsten

    What is the destiny of the cement? I sense a home improvement project in your future. Also, what’s the Community Housing Authority ruling on building an extension? Would it have to be brown, or could you paint it?

    It sounds as though your host family is filled with both compassion and a necessary degree of wisdom to keep you alive, of which I’m glad. Perhaps, keep a colony of mice around for testing the water.


  2. Amanda Chaput

    Hello my beautiful friend! I recieved my first letter from you yesterday! I would respond however your return address was to Park Ridge haha and then on the back of the card you wrote “write me back at”… Then clearly got distracted haha I was then on the phone with your brother for an hour trying to get it but he didn’t have it and said he would ask your mom…. This was 24 hours ago and I am still adressless .

    I just want to let you know that you always have a place to come home to in Michigan with me! All of the furniture is yours anyways and I’m sure mav and tiny Africa dog will be bffs 🙂 please send me an address soon!


  3. Kim Winter

    Poison for you or for bugs, Chica?? WTH??? I just now looked at your blog and only read the last one. We’re thinking of you back here in the WO and now with our “latest Mark Rey Student”, have a daily reminder of how long it’s been since you joined us. BE SAFE over there and receive many hugs from the DC area…


  4. Jean A. T.

    Hope your living quarters are coming together! Keep well, my friend!


  5. mary ann c. Kennedy

    My sister-in-law had us write “used clothing” on any packages we sent her while they were in the Peace Corps in Kenya. Theives still managed to steal all the baby/maternity clothes I had sent her, when they left their car unoccupied (with the clothing still in the box) for a few minutes. Chelsi, this is a great account. I can picture the whole thing. Thanks! Sounds like you are off to a great start, with special help from the gentleman who’s trying to keep you from being poisoned! Now there’s a true friend.


  6. Vicki

    Dear Cousin,

    What an adventure! Cement, chocolate and wine? Sounds like the trappings of a liberated woman. Look forward to hearing more!


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