Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Travaille: Market day at Ng'ombe Compound

Here are a few pictures from my photoshoot today for a micro-finance bank. In all I did portraits of 14 vendors (all microfinance clients) and met (with the help and introduction from the bank's loan officer) several others that had either 'graduated' from the bank or were putting their proposals together. The shops this group were running sold: cooking oil (below), vegetables, kapenta (dried fish), rocks (to nibble during your pregnancy), fresh eggs, used clothing and shoes, chitenge cloth, fritters, chicken, offals, charcol and  popcorn. There was also a grocery store, a hair salon, soup stall, a carpenter's shop and a barbeque stand.

Monday, June 29, 2009

ho hum weekend....

Finny, proud piggy in the Lost Little Cowboy
We had a far-from typical weekend.  Todd got up at 5:30 on Friday morning in Choma after a religious leader's training and drove back in time to see Finny perform in the preschool graduation (his class did Lost Little Cowboy), pick up Owen from school, shower and get back in the car which I spent about 35 minutes packing -- actually, I kind of threw any camping or cooking related things in the general direction of the car and hoped for the best.  
Our friend graduating all the way from the Yellow Class up to the Reception Class at "the Big School." (with the school's GM)
We drove slowly...achingly, painfully slowly, through Friday afternoon traffic and then like bats out of hell out to the Kafue National Park where they close the 'Hook Bridge' gate for the night at 6pm.  We got there at 5:45 and it was ALREADY closed. Thankfully someone appeared from  the bush with 'the book' and a key (Zambian Wildlife Authority keeps close track of park visitors) and we were soon on the dusty road to our home away from home for the weekend, the Lufupa River Camp, just as the sun was setting.

The campsite under the marula tree which we shared with our friends and their two sweet girls

The 60km drive from the main park road to the camp took 2-1/2 hours; our tardiness at getting to the gate was not punished....we were in fact rewarded with the most amazing drive...we saw a CHEETAH!  Thankfully the kids were not asleep and we got to see it just sauntering down the road lit by our headlights (about 10m in front of us), then it turned off and disappeared into the bush.  Right after we saw 6 lion cubs (and made sure that the windows were up at this point b/c we didn't see momma lion) and also a genet which was just incredible.  We got to camp and met our friends, who left Lusaka at a reasonable time of day for a 6 hour drive and arrived in the daylight to set up their camp like most normal folks like to do.  The camp/lodge host met us to say hello and to remind us to be mindful of the fact that the camp is IN the park and we should expect to have wildlife in camp....i.e leopard, hippo, wild dogs, hyeanas and elephant that come nightly to check on things and eat from the marula tree that we were camping under....OK, Goodnight.

It was FLIPPING COLD that first night but we all slept despite this the threat of being a leopard snack if we needed to get up to go potty, er, visit the abulitions block. In the morning we all went out on the boat and went fishing, did a little game drive and then did a night drive.  We saw: monster crocs, hippos galore, monitor lizards, birds of every shape and size, elephants, maybe a wild dog (not confirmed but we can't figure what else it could have been), warthogs, bush baby, more gennets and every nearly every kind of antelope in the book: bushbuck, impala, puku, kudu, waterbuck, roan, sitatunga etc. 

How cute are these safari campers? O and Scout
Monday was a work day and school day. The kids are both healthy again so are back for their last week of school, I had a photo shoot and TJ jumped back into things as he has a busy few weeks as we prepare to leave for Seattle (9 July).   We were so lucky to have squeezed in one last adventure before the insanity of traveling. Some photos from the weekend.

my espresso pot barely survived the camping experience (with O still looking sickly)

Fishing on the Lufupa River, Silver Barble for tea (with O looking much better!)

See?  roughing it:  my ice cold G&T had a LEMON not a lime!  

The staff spoiled the kids rotten

Kudu.  Kafue NP has no shortage of antelope....cheetah snacks

Ellie Elephant having a snack before a very close encounter with the Jennings family as we left the park on Sunday

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lexi-Lucy, aka Not Our Dog

This is Lexi-Lucy.  She is NOT our dog.  We just feed her and play with her and let her chase the cats around our yard.  Sounds like she is our dog, you say?  But she is NOT.  
Our neighbors moved out a while ago and they left her behind with 7 puppies.  Mr. Zulu (the gardener) sold the puppies and fed her for a while and when he left the workers that came to tile the driveway (don't ask why) they fed her.  when they left....Lexi left the property in search of food...without much luck.  She did find a spitting cobra somewhere along the way, hence the very fashionable (but gnarly) "Captain-Jack-Sparrow-dog-pirate" look.  She found her way into our yard a few weeks back and we just bought our second bag of dog food.  
But she is not our dog.  Really.

Friday, June 12, 2009




Since starting the process of applying for our Zambian drivers licenses we have between the two of us accumulated 5 tickets for various offenses, signed an 'admission of guilt' form, and acquired an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the RSTA (Road Safety and Transit Agency).   It has been a drama in 4 acts.  (see the posting from for the previous installments)

RSTA moved the office where you pick up your card from the Lumumba Road office (where I was so excited about the 'Ladies Line' at the card collecting office) to a mysterious place.  No one could tell me where it was because I didn't know any of the landmarks and the road doesn't have a name.  

Once I find the new RSTA office (between the Interpol office and the city bus station around the corner from the Central Police Station), I find the gate closed at 9am even though they are supposed to open at 8.  They are open but the lot is full so I must jump the curb and park in the ditch (as instructed by the guard). I proceed to the building.  "Madame!? Madame?!?" Yes?"Madame, you need to go this side." and the guard points to a gnarly old shipping container in a dirt lot behind the parking lot for the RSTA building.  Sure enough the container has been converted into the card-dispersal station.  There are only a dozen people waiting but no one seems to be doing anything and there is no line, never mind a 'ladies line' so I go to the little plastic window and present my papers.  They are refused.  The other patrons (customers? clients?) assure me that I just need to wait for a bit and then he will accept the papers.

After the RSTA guy gets through his stack, sure enough, he accepts another batch of papers, ours included of a fellow who is also waiting.  The RSTA guy has two long tables in front of him with cardboard tabs and stacks of thousands of licenses in rubber-banded bunches. I am assuming they are in alphabetical order, but let's not get too crazy.  The guy calls names one by one and hands out cards or hands back the temporary papers with new extension stamps.  I am discouraged that some peoples' papers have many, many stamps.  

We do not get or licenses.  We do get a stamp: a mere 20 days extension.  Before I can take my papers, however, this guy swoops in and grabs them, announcing quietly that he is going to do me a big favor and he marches off to I know not where.  I wait and wait and wait.  I am trying to remember what he looks like and what he is wearing for the police report.  After some time (40 minutes or so), the container guy wants to see me inside.  From what I gather the 'favor' was checking for our cards in the main building before we were turned us away but the cards were not there.  Someone returned  the paperwork back to Mr Container dude who in turn returned them to me.  

20 days later
Same routine, only this time when I stuff my papers through the little plastic window, I get, almost immediately in return....the licenses.  Very anti-climatic.   The drivers license saga is complete. We have our licenses -- I have a class B license TJ inexplicably has a class C license.  We have them..."now now" as they say here.


Boys: we have two of them.  They are sweet and gorgeous and bright and completely nuts. We love them to pieces.  

SAFETY FIRST! I 'caught' the kids in the act the other day doing vinegar, baking soda and food coloring experiments in the garden.  I am certain O was standing out of the frame in the safety zone.  I am pretty sure the goggles were his idea, too.  I'm also certain Finn is wondering if anyone would notice if he tasted the experiment.

Most of the time they are good friends.  And good sports.  They are game to try anything if it has to do with a ball (rugby, cricket, field hockey, baseball, bocci, etc) or a flinging themselves into the air. They are both very much looking forward to the 'home visit,' although Finn keeps asking if July is close to Seattle.  This is a fair question.

World Malaria Day

April 25 is/was World Malaria Day.  TJ participated in activities which included diagnostic testing for malaria, information and net distribution, health counseling, and dancing with big scary pythons (of course) in Katete (about a 5 hour drive from the capital, Lusaka) with his colleagues from Seattle, Lusaka and all over Zambia. Here are some of his photos from the day. 

For more information on WMD:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rhythm of Life, larger than life

"On May 16th 2009 Lusaka saw it’s first large-scale music festival and health fair, dubbed “The Rhythm of Life.”  Over 12,000 festival goers came to the Lusaka Showgrounds for a free, family-friendly all-day (and into the night) event that featured on-stage entertainment from Zambia’s top musicians, drama groups, visual artists, choirs and speakers.  The featured musician was world-famous Zimbabwean musician Oliver Mtukudzi who played two sets in addition to coming back to the stage to perform the festivals namesake song, “The Rhythm of Life.”  Other star performers included Matthew Tembo, the Mwale Sisters, Danny, Cactus Agony, Xploits, Maiko Zulu and Angela Nyirenda, among others.  

The success of this USAID-funded was a result of cooperation with the coordinating agency, Health Communications Partnership (HCP), the Zambian Ministry of Health, the National Arts Council of Zambia and hundreds of partners in the field of public health.

Concert goers were treated to musical entertainment but also had the opportunity to visit through the health festival where exhibitors were set up to promote the festival’s theme,  Move to a Healthy Beat.  The atmosphere was energizing.   Exhibitors distributed materials with information on malaria prevention, cancer screening, and HIV interventions.  Visitors received counselling on everything from male circumcision to high blood pressure and practitioners performed services including onsite weight checks, vision tests, blood donation, and malaria testing and referral."  

(so reads the beginning of my write-up for the Malaria Consortium.)

(Warning:  Here is where I start tooting my horn.)  I still cannot believe what happened when I turned over a set of designs and 4 photos of Matthew, Miriam, Ester and Margret to the folks at HCP.  THIS is what happened! Marketing! Pens, badges, posters, banners, tee-shirts, VIP passes, even the signs for the toilets.   There is something so thrilling about driving through Kalingalinga with the kids and having them notice...."MOMMY!  MOMMY!  The POSTER!  I saw YOUR poster!" And to see my work larger than life.  Thanks, guys.

Margret and Ester on the shirts (above).  All the artistes (below), with Brian the musical coordinator) from the Dream Team on stage in their ROL gear at the first public performance of "The Rhythm of Life" song.  Great job, kudos to Cactus Agony for his part in writing this tune.

Life and Death

(with sincere apologies if this offends anyone)
I have been experiencing 'safari photo' fatigue and needed to show something that you probably haven't seen from someone's brilliant trip to Africa.  I am rotten at photgraphing animals unless they are very small or very dead.  This unfortunate creature clearly falls in the 'very dead' category.  

The nile cabbage is providing cover for several of Hippo's cousins (just out of the frame) and also is hiding several of the pond's more ravenous residents...a bunch of crocs were making attempts at an afternoon snack but the poor thing was so bloated they couldn't even get a taste.

Wet and Dry

The family made the long (but now with interim road improvements, 
not-so-hideous) trip to Livingstone on a whim the other weekend.  
It looked a bit different in May (above) than October (below).

Papa (and Owen) taking in the view from the Knife-Edge Bridge in October (above). The bridge in May (below) 
Todd and Finn taking on water near the bridge (below)

Above, rainy season, Below, dry season