Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A certain kind of crazy...

Well, my friends, I’m afraid I’ve been remiss for too long, and for all you readers out there anxiously awaiting my next update (and, again, I’m sure there are just legions of you…), I apologize. I promise it won’t happen again. For realz. And I mean it this time. You see, PC Zam had just blessed the provincial houses with Wi-Fi! *cue trumpets and fanfare* Real, speedy, American-style internet. It’s AMAZING! It’s the little things that you learn to live without, and kinda even appreciate not having sometimes, but then when you get them back, it’s mind-blowing. For instance, yahoo mail and cosmo.com. Makes me afraid to go back to Americaland, almost.

So, the latest news is that I have successful completed my Community Entry period. And by successful completing, I mean I survived. That’s right, three months alone in my village, learning how to function on my own in a completely crazy new world. There were ups and downs, highs and lows, some blood, lots of sweat, and, I won’t lie, one or two tears (But really, only a couple. Honestly. No major meltdowns yet, unless you count chasing the village iwe with a giant stick when the little brats wouldn’t listen to me when I told them to get out of my insaka…kids these days…). It’s a wild time, let me tell you. The funny things about it though is you do make it, and when you look back on the past three months, you don’t know how it could have gone so fast when you are sure that every day is about 43 hours long. It’s incredible, I felt that this weekend was bigger than my birthday AND Christmas combined, just because I feel like I’ve aged (/grown/changed/improved/become so totally hardcore…) three years in the last 90 days. You don’t know how it happens, but somehow while your life seems to be caught in this otherworldly stasis of a foreign world, you’re catapulted forward into a whole new stage of your life. It feels…like sunshine and rain and a hurricane all at once. Then you finally have a moment to pause and reflect, and in that deep breath, you realize you’re so very different than when you began it’s hard to even remember what your life was like before. Somewhere along the way, that very wild, crazy, outrageous way, you’ve become comfortable and made this strange new world your home. Or maybe that’s just my life these days…

But anyway, enough of that mushy stuff. I want to welcome the newest intake that arrived this weekend. Even though you missed the last flight to Lusaka (ahahahahaha, too funny), you still made it, and hey, at least the PC staff didn’t forget you were coming. If I could I would make the Transformers transformation sound right now, because that’s what’s happening to us all. “PCV’s: Super-cool people in disguise”. Can’t wait to meet you all, especially the divinely blessed people who will be coming up to Luapula, unarguably the Greatest Province In Zambia. Welcome home, kids.

I wish I could take a snapshot of what my new life is like here for you all. It would undoubtedly be full of sweeping vistas, rusty single-gear bicycles, tons of children, and hard-working maayos (Plus lots of sand. Seriously, if I had known there would be this much sand in my new home, I would have never begged my parents to take me to the coast before I left. It’s ridiculous. I’m investigating dune tires for my bicycle at dry season gets closer and the Sand Trap moat surrounding my community expands daily). You see, as a Volunteer, every day is an adventure. You are constantly surprised by your own strength, and at the same time, have moments where you begin to question your sanity. It is an awkward time, a trying time, a time that you can only describe as “crazy.” And indeed, it is a well-known fact among PCV’s that you really have to be a certain kind of crazy to do this.

Let me illustrate. There is a sordid drama currently happening in my village, a scandalous soap opera of passion, jealousy, and revenge. There are secret affairs, back-stabbing lovers, illegitimate offspring, and vicious rivalries, and I have observed it all from the comfort of my porch. It’s taken me a while to get caught up on all the details, but, as I’m sure you will soon agree with me, on the whole it is riveting entertainment for me. I call it….Eggs of Our Lives.

Ozmodius is the scrawny scruffy rooster that sleeps in the tree above my hut. He is the sorry Water-Boy type, with about fourteen feathers, a bare neck, no spurs, and a sad wheeze in his crow. He tries so hard, and yet he is, in every sense of the word, a reject. I mean, he’s moved in with the village musungu, so what does that tell you? Poor Ozmodious, he has pretty much nothing going for him. Now, there is another rooster that stays across the road. Glossy, huge, perfectly feathered, and fierce, Arthur Jackson is every hen’s dream and the neighborhood pimp. AJ, as we shall call him, is Mr. Joe Quarterback of Mwanachama, and his favorite sport is chasing Oz and beating the drumsticks outta him. He rockets around the village with this ridiculously determined swagger and I’m pretty sure that Cheap Trick’s “Mighty Wings” is constantly playing in his head. They are bitter rivals.

So Ozmodius is madly in love with Barbie, the sweet strawberry-blonde chick that has a distinct girl-next-door vibe. The problem is, Barbie is currently with AJ, as they are usually spotted together strutting around the village scratching in the dust. In my opinion, he totally uses her, and obviously Oz agrees with me, because a couple of weeks ago I watched him make a pass on Barbie. He carefully shadowed her for a few laps around my garbage pit, then, he made his move, jumping in and sharing a piece of my old tomato butt with her. It was subtle, innocent, and filled with danger. I knew that they were seeing each other secretly; I would catch a few longing side glances as the days went on.

The time finally came when I witnessed the big showdown. Oz and Barbie had stolen a few minutes together, chatting and giggling and pecking about beneath my mango trees. Then Oz couldn’t stand it anymore and just HAD to jump on her. I watched as they consummated their illicit love with bated breath, fearing the worst, and I wasn’t disappointed. Out of seemingly nowhere, Arthur Jackson barrels into the yard, all feathers and fury. He soundly trounced Ozmodius, who had to escape into my bathing shelter, and then confronted his cheating mistress with cruel pecks and reprimands. I was literally on the edge of my seat.

I thought that was the end of it. Barbie and AJ broke up, and a couple days later I saw the cocky cock with a new bleach-blonde, barely legal tramp, obviously a trophy rebound to shame Barbie. I was so thrilled; finally, Oz and Barbie can be together, because they are sooooo meant for each other. Oh, how wrong I was. Ozmodius was spotted not but five days later with AJ’s new squeeze, the tramp, and poor Barbie was seen morosely picking through some weeds, alone and disgraced in the eyes of the other hens. This tells me that Ozmodius isn’t really in this for love, he was just using Barbie to make AJ’s life as miserable as he possibly can. Why, you ask? I was wondering the same thing, so I did some investigating, and observed them both hanging around this old grey hen. I think…they’re step-brothers. It’s plausible, you know, the odd adopted egg, the bitter resentment, the constant competition…. I will most certainly keep you updated on the new happenings, because Aurthur Jackson will most certainly find out about this new betrayal.
I think, over all, the saddest thing is that this has really taken on a life of its own. We are genuinely entertained by stuff like this. Which leaves the more critical question: Will we ever be able to fit into normal society again? It remains yet to be seen…

Thanks to everyone who is keeping up with me and thinking about me. If you haven’t yet, just trot on down to your post office and jot me a post card or something, I love hearing from anyone and everyone, even just a little bit, and a stamp is the most efficient investment you could make when it comes to buying my affection. :D Just kidding. Well, only a little.

Headed down to Lusaka in a couple of weeks for IST, I’m getting so excited to see everyone and learn some cool new tricks of the trade. Hope all is well half a world away.

1 comment:

  1. the chicken drama is amazing. i think it would be a great picture book. or a serialized cartoon strip or something. you crack me up, ash, and i love reading about your latest adventures!! :D