Well, our tour of duty in Zambia officially ended late January, when Thom returned home for good. It was a busy autumn for me, going back and forth from here to Zambia, and supervising the building of our barn and remodeling of our new home here in Northwest Michigan. During this time our oldest son also got married (to a wonderful woman!) in Colorado and we spent Christmas with relatives in North Carolina. Thom was even busier, organizing workshops and conducting research in Lusaka, while giving some side talks at Cornell and in Washington, D.C. I quickly achieved Gold frequent flyer status and Thom’s a Platinum member now. We’re ready to stop traveling for a while and are really ready to come back and live in the U.S.!
How to sum up our Zambia experience? It was very different for Thom than it was for me. For him, it was incredibly busy with boatloads of meetings, politics, research, analysis, writing, travel and much more. It was rewarding for him too, in that he accomplished his goal (with lots of uber qualified colleagues, of course) of establishing an independent, Zambia-based and run, agricultural policy center. The Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) was launched a full year before schedule and is now run under the able leadership of Chance Kabaghe. Chance and Thom are truly peas in a pod, brothers in heart.
For me, it was like a wonderful, magical vacation on a remote island. I gardened, baked bread, made cheese, got a puppy (our beloved butterball Boerbel Coco), explored the area and enjoyed the company of some wonderful women (esp. Emily, Cassie and Tendayi).
But, sometimes no matter how wonderful a vacation is, you just get to the point where you’re ready for it to be over. I got to that point about 1.5 years into the experience. It’s actually pretty boring in Zambia (safe, but boring). I had done what I could to improve someone else’s home but I got very itchy to get back to the U.S. and set up our new homestead and start building our gardens and raising animals.
A lot of information given in this blog is probably out of date now. For example, as of January 1 this year (2013), the government rebased the currency by dropping the last three 0′s, such that 50,000 kwacha is now 50 kwacha. You have until June 30th to turn in all old currency for new. Here is what the new currency looks like.
Now that I’ve been back for a few months I find that I sometimes miss our sunny easy life in Lusaka, especially with the amount of snow we had this winter. I also miss our wonderful guard Bernard and Danny the gardener who, with the savings they made working for us, quit their jobs and opened a pub together. If you can believe it, Bernard the guard worked a full two years for us (or really G4S, the security company), 6 days a week (including holidays), 6 am – 6 pm, and missed only one day in two years (when his family got malaria). One missed day in a 6-day workweek, 12 hours a day, over a two year period!!!! Amazing. (Photo: Bernard on the left and Danny on the right, sorting clothes we brought for them to distribute to their community.)
So, this post wraps up “Letters for Lusaka. Thank you for joining us on our African adventure. I’ve appreciated all of your comments and even better, made some new friends through this blog that will last a lifetime.
We’re beginning to enjoy our new life here, and liking our homestead more and more each day. More importantly, we love being near some of our kids, who are an absolute joy to have around (we love having adult children – they’re so pleasant and helpful!). Perhaps it’s time to start a new blog – something on starting a new homestead (with animals, gardening, friends) in rural northwest Michigan? Here are some photos marking the start of this new chapter in our lives.
Thank you for your love these past two years! May your lives be full of joy and peace.