21st Century Pen Pals

I remember the very first time I discovered email.  I was in grad school at the University of California, Irvine, and urgently wanted to reach a new friend at the University of Arizona.  Someone told me about telnet, where I could simply type in someone’s name and a message, and get a response within five minutes.  The year was about 1990.

Fast forward to 2010 where facebook and the blogosphere are part of my daily life, and that includes the friends I’ve met on each.  We’re 21st century pen pals.  I feel like with 21st century pen pals you get to know each other faster because multiple “letters” can be exchanged each day and we can see photos and videos of each other.  We can even take care of each other though we may be on other sides of the world (right Ang?).

Eloise from Cape Town had contacted me after reading my blog asking about housing here in Lusaka, as she and her husband were moving there this spring (North America’s fall).  We corresponded many times and learned a bit about each other.  When she realized I was in Cape Town (from the blog) she contacted me and before I knew it we were meeting face-to-face at the Lord Charles!  It was wonderful meeting someone in person with whom I had only been a pen pal.  I enjoyed her company and am looking forward to her moving here in October!

Later that week I picked up Joanne and Jami from the Kilimanjaro Lodge and took them to Kamwala, the primarily Indian-owned section of town where you can get good deals on everything from hardware to fabrics to appliances to dishes, and so forth.  Joanne is a Canadian I met on my blog.  She was coming to visit the child she had been sponsoring through World Vision.  A friend’s daughter (Jami) decided to tag along at the last minute.  But first, we had a nice cup of coffee at Kilimanjaro Cafe.


(Darn! My hair doesn’t look blond anymore, especially compared to true blonds.)

Let me tell you, there was some serious rubber-necking in Kamwala at the sight of Jami’s bare legs in a short summer dress!


After Joanne picked up some pots and various other things for her sponsored child’s family, we drove out to Sugarbush for lunch.  Along the way we picked up two more pen pals whom I had yet to meet!  Heather and Gina each had contacted me on my blog regarding their impending move to Zambia.  They each had arrived a couple of weeks earlier and Heather had just gotten her vehicle in the last 24 hours, so we drove to her home and then she and Gina followed us to Sugarbush in her new car.

Heather had been particularly interested in our experiences regarding importing pets to Zambia.  Like us, she had heard that one should not go through South Africa because of their strict quarantine laws, and that British Air only allowed dogs as cargo.  Problem was, her little Boston Terrier, Ruby, was a snubbed nose dog and they do not do well in cargo.  So, her plan was to have Ruby certified as an emotional support dog (for legitimate reasons) and fly Ethiopian Airlines.  I was really keen to hear how it all went.  (Emotional support dogs are treated like any other service dog and they can sit at your feet or on your lap in the airplane, and walk freely on their leashes in the airport, whereas dogs flying as carry-ons have to stay in their carriers or the flight attendants go nuts.  Like seriously we’re-going-to-turn-the-plane-around nuts.)

Here’s everyone enjoying lunch at Sugarbush.  From the left going clockwise: Jami, myself, Margaret (one of Thom’s colleagues here for a one-month assignment), Heather, Gina and Joanne.















About Kimm X Jayne

Gravatar Photograph from the exceptionally talented Ben Heine. http://www.flickr.com/photos/benheine/3794765860/
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5 Responses to 21st Century Pen Pals

  1. ang says:

    I wish I was there! Looks fu, pen pal 🙂

    Ps I used telnet to log into the library back in the day

  2. Joanne Hutchinson says:

    Sorry to disappoint but I am actually a brunette. I now call myself a blonde with silver highlights and in some of the pictures I brought home my mother & I think I look a bit like Jane Goodall. So now I can look to the future and just let the blonde grow out and be happy with the grey.
    Thanks so much for the mention. I have been writing a bit and it seems more like a book than a blog, but I will try to blog later this month.
    I will mention though that it is strange but I feel like I have lost my baby toe. I am unbalanced. Even though I had Njamba’s picture on my fridge and updated it yearly thanks to World Vision, and I only received their annual reports I feel like a part of me is missing. Maybe it is jet lag but i have a little hole in my heart.
    Carl is saying that he would like to go back with me in 2015 when he is on a 4/5 from school. I am planning it already. Too bad you will not be there then. Njamba will be 20.
    Thanks again for everything and I will be in touch.
    PS you are photogenic and this is a book you are writing.
    Luv Joe xo

    • Kimm X Jayne says:

      Hi Joe! You’re doing exactly what I’m doing then, going more blond as I go grey. You should write a book! If you read Christy’s blog I think she has the same feelings you have. take care!

  3. Helen Ambassador for Lusaka InterNations.org says:

    What a lovely post – oh yes I too was at Uni – University of Queensland in fact, when the internet came in to being – it was 1996 though and I was in charge of a whole 6 computers that ran the internet and students could make a booking, present their student cards and then be taught if needed how to use a browser and surf the web. It was totally in its infancy with Netscape Navigator and Excite mail as my primary tools for browsing and emailing.

    Now skip ahead to 2011 and I am totally involved in the web – I run an online expatriate community for expats living in Lusaka -InterNations.org enabling the expatriate community to chat online and join us at our offline events each month!

    My husband and I are web designers and encourage businesses to use SMS/text for their marketing as its so immediate. I use Facebook to keep in touch with friends from school from 20 years ago and check for email on a constant basis – since Skype usually my source of a phone line does not work well here with our small bandwidth.
    Oh and I write a blog for business called http://texo-tech.blogspot.com, and perhaps I shall find something to Tweet about too!

    Gardening is the only thing I do everyday here in Zambia that does not need the internet – and even then I could use it to check on what tree is growing in the garden.

    Who would have thought that in just 16 years the internet would keep me plugged into my family, friends and the business world like this!

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