Good morning all,

In my last post I talked about visiting my neighbor, and about the hard news that I received before I headed over to Samfya for the Fourth of July. I talked about how difficult it was to receive that news, and I mentioned the feelings of helplessness and hurt that surround us when we lose friends, but are thousands of miles away.

In this post, I’d like to focus in on the Fourth of July. It was a cool afternoon as we left the provincial house – eight people strapped up with all their camping gear and luggage piled high on the roof and interior of the car. We were packed in like sardines in a tin, I can’t help but feel like we were a piece of priceless glass, tucked into an international parcel, with every possible space stuffed with packing peanuts.

We negotiated the prices, piled in, and even managed to get one of us seated on the middle console in the front. Transport in Zambia is always a treat, and we were barely out the gate before the driver tried to convince me that I should drive the vehicle. I asked him repeatedly if he had a license, and he said he did and there wouldn’t be any problem. As it turns out, our driver’s license wasn’t valid. We made it ¾ of the way to Samfya, before we hit a transport traffic stop manned by the RTSA police. The police asked for the driver’s license, and with eight PCVs packed solidly into the vehicle, then pulled us off the to the side of the road. As we loosed ourselves and extricated ourselves from the vehicle, it felt like a circus show. The 15 clowns in a tiny vehicle. We waited around in the sun, talking and chatting as the driver paid his fines and we continued on about 45 minutes to an hour later.

We were still in a good mood, and we discovered – much to our delight and dismay – that the driver had a small TV screen installed in the dashboard, and more importantly that it worked! We were only dismayed because we were about an hour and a half into our trip before we discovered we could watch terrible music videos while gasping for fresh air.

We pulled down the big hill to Samfya lake, slid past the Department of Forestry office, and the gates of the lodge. Then we were out at the small beach on a small point creating the bay. We were excited and burst from the vehicle, unpacking our gear and setting up our camp. Once we had settled in, it was time to strip down to trunks and a t-shirt, lay out on the sand in the sun, and enjoy the beach weather.

As the day passed, we headed up into town and grabbed a traditional Nshima lunch – it was a great meal, Nshima with chicken and vegetables – the staple. We headed back down to the camp, had a couple of sundowners, and started up a fire. Relaxing and enjoying the evening we had another fantastic night in typical Peace Corps fashion. Great conversation, good company, and music.

The week continued on, and about mid week, more and more of our fellow volunteers arrived. It wasn’t until Wednesday that the best surprise arrived. A big fat sheep, and sheepy was going to be spit roasted on the day of the fourth.

We set sheepy out to cure, having it rest in a cool storeroom for the night, a block of ice wrapped in plastic bags set inside to keep him right at the right temperature, and then the next day we spit ‘im and started the fire and coals underneath. As he sizzled and roasted the delicious smells set the mood for the day.

That day there was a motor boat – some attempted water skiing (I was too heavy for the boat/engine) lots of swimming, and a circle of folks watching the sheep roast. As the evening came and we ate, we were in rapture of the food, and as evening set in a few fellow volunteers broke out their Banjo, Guitar, and voices and we celebrated the birthday of our nation in fine style.

The next day it was time to clean up, pack up, and head back to the house. I’d have a night to relax, and then it was time to board a night bus, and spend 14 hours on the road down to Lusaka.