Monday, May 18, 2009

Four days in and I already found a running partner!

The trip to Kipiri Mposhi was delayed until Tuesday, which meant day 2 in MOH. I have taken up walking to work – although – not without problems, as I walked a good 15 minutes in the wrong direction before getting assistance. In asking for directions, I also gained an escort to the office…although a 30 min walk took 1.25 hours, so I think he took me on a tour. Either way, at some point the conversation turned from our appreciation of walking versus riding in the crammed mini-busses to our mutual running interests. Turns out he runs for 2.5 hours, several mornings a week! Imagine that – not only did I find someone to run with, but someone who likes to run for a long time. He is well over 6 feet and legs like a giraffe, so I am not so sure how this arrangement is going to work.
I will also have to turn on my filter for our long runs. At another point during our walk – remember 1.25 hours long – he began telling me about his family situation and how he is not married. I asked if he had a girlfriend – “you know, dating without the commitment of marriage”. “Oh – a girl who is my friend –yes”, he replies. “Well not really just friends – more than that, but you don’t have to marry her”, I try to explain. At this point he makes the noise that Tim Allen used to make on Home Improvement. At this point I nervously laugh, realizing I have overstepped in trying to understand the culture here – “Uh, it must just be something Americans do”.
Or maybe it is just what Zambian men do after they are married. As the next conversation of the day was with a MOH driver, who explained to me that he had a wife and a girlfriend, as do ALL the men, according to Peter. I will spare the details, but I am sure you can imagine where I took this conversation. Ever the feminist.  Poor guy has to drive me three hours in to the bush tomorrow too. I have a feeling he is going to be one of my closest friends, though.
Other news…
I attended a huge concert on Saturday – geared towards HIV awareness. Turns out a contact I made before leaving the US is the Chief Advisor to the National AIDS Council in Zambia, so I had VIP treatment all day long. Something I am still getting used to… I have been in more Land Rovers in the last four days than I care to count. I have thought about starting a picture blog in which I pose in front of Land Rovers, emblemized with UNFPA, UN, WHO, USAID and the list goes on. There is an incredible amount of foreign aid in this country – and yet huge health challenges persist. Hmm…..
And my self-appointed Zambian mother turned into the evil step-mother at some point between Friday and Saturday. (Her daily accommodation rates were also more than my rent in Berkeley!) I quickly moved over into a more reasonable accommodation—equipped with a pool and bar – and very friendly neighbors. All day long I am greeted with, “Kareeeeeeeeeeeen from Caliiiiiforniaaaaaaaaaaaa”.

With that so said, so long for now…….promise the next report will have more news from the field…
KarEn from californiA


  1. Karen,

    It sounds like life will be very interesting. Can't wait to hear from you again. You do meet the most interesting people. Be careful.

    Love you,

  2. I like the things you do.
    I like the people you meet.
    I am jealous. I am getting on a plane to Zambia in 10 minutes. See you at the Luksakakskaksaksaskaksska airport.

  3. Karen from California....have to say that I like the sound of that :) and by the way you fit the stereotypical bleach blonde image that everyone has of CA gals. So you're running with a giraffe, riding in countless land rovers with MOH chauffeurs, residing pool-side with a bar close by....hmmmm can you please remind me---where are you? Little Musungu has managed to fit right in while the rest of us get to live vicariously! Love & miss you, Aunt Sue