Where to start? A chorus of birds waking us up before the sunrise every morning. Trees bursting with red and purple flowers. Sun shining so directly overhead that there are no shadows. Drinking Aperol spritz and having wood-fired pizza under the stars at Portico.
Gigibonta, Little House Books. Chicken pies in Choma. Ethiopian food, Kalingalinga, Zambians walking, always walking, with baskets and babies and sometimes top hats or several gallons of water on their heads.
Riding our bikes to Delish for coffee and doughnuts. Chasing the cats at Dil and ordering chicken samosas, murgh jahanhara, murgh adraki, paneer tikka masala, Castle, and dry, white wine.
AISL, the Friday Market, mobs of primary school kids in yellow t-shirts clamoring for impala burgers and red velvet cupcakes. German sausages and freshly squeezed orange juice at the Dutch Market, bread and schwarmas from Melissa, venison carpaccio and the best burger in town at Lilayi. Baby elephants!
Levy Junction, Go-karts, East Park, Frozen, Manda Hill and Vasilli’s for Mommy Croissants. Mrs. Ball’s Chutney, Stoney Tangawezi, Blue Moon Cappuccino, Handy Andy. The pool! “Bush camping on the African Savannah with no gates between us and the wild animals,” as Eli says.
Sleeping under a mosquito net, having a sand pit, hiking the Boiling Pot at Victoria Falls and ending the day with Olga’s and Sun Downers.
Pimm’s Cups, Campari, Windhoek, Mosi. Brewing our own beer with the Boleys and the Del Bosques on Saturday afternoons. Zambian Iced Tea. I will miss grapefruit schnapps and Schweppes Dry Lemon!
Nshima, greens, and boiled beans after school, sometimes chicken or fish or meat, but always nshima and beans eaten with our hands.
Here is Jake with the 25 kg bag of nshima we bought every month.
Our cook, Mary, who made a decent attempt at bagels and the best little apple pies. Eli’s farm, calling me out to see his rivers and his floods, and showing me the most beautiful birds I’ve ever seen just sitting in trees in our backyard. Jake collecting wallets and being crafty, making necklaces, potholders, pillows, a teddy bear. Nature Tracking. The Mountain of God. Why did the chameleon cross the road? Avocado trees, the compost bin, garden lettuce taller than Jake, and riding bicycles over a carpet of purple jacaranda blooms.
Fried fish at Peace Corps for lunch.
Sometimes it felt like we lived outside of Zambian culture, behind gated walls and razor wire, driving cars and buying groceries in our own ex-pat parallel universe. Unlike our previous assignments, it was harder to integrate here. Thank goodness for Ms. Hilda and her invitations to weddings and Kitchen Parties, to see what real Zambians do! Otherwise the cultural experience we felt on a daily basis was more of a British/South African one, filled with things like flat beer, sausages, and expensive safari trips. Things I will NOT miss are coriander-flavored boerewors, bean-filled english breakfasts, and orange marmalade. I will never be one of those ex-pats who gets excited when Pizza Hut comes to town.
In the last three years there has been so much to see, so much to smell! The perfume of flowers and rosewood that permeates all the burning scents in the evening air. Poinsettia trees. Bats in the backyard. Funerals and pick-up trucks bursting with singing Zambians, honoring the cultural cornerstones of Life and Death.
When we are getting ready to move as we are right now, thinking about what I love about Zambia means remembering Azerbaijan and Ukraine too, and all the good-byes we’ve already said. It is like saying good-bye to everything we’ve ever loved, all over again.
Zambia is in our souls now. And we know, that like the others, it will remain there until the end.