I'm 23! Don't feel much different than I did yesterday, yet 22 began what feels like an epic chapter that will continue to be filled with stories of adventure, inspiration, frustration, and beauty. The past weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. After IST I moved into a temporary homebase, in Kalomo which is a boma (small town) 40 minutes south of Choma. Not really diggin the town vibe, I miss the quiet communal feel of the village, so I am traveling from village to village working with other Peace Corps volunteers on various programs. Just came back from doing a cheese-making demo at my friend's school, which was a success! Cheese-making, particularly as hungry season begins (in between planting and harvesting time), is a great way to improve food security, especially because at this time the cows are producing lots of milk due to the rains and abundance of grasses for them to eat. All you need is milk, vinegar or lemon juice, and salt to make village cheese! The kids really loved our cooking demo. I spent my birthday evening with this same friend, listening to music and enjoying the clear, starry, moon-filled sky.
All of the Southern volunteers had a giant January birthday party on Saturday. The theme was mustaches, machetes, mini skirts, and mohawks. Tons of fun and overwhelming celebration. Headed to a friend's village before the party to do a malaria prevention talk at the Under 5 clinic. The sun has been shining the past 2 weeks, so we bathed and swam in his river for almost an entire day. Got tons of vitamin D, which I have been missing in the rain! Headed to another friend's village today to do an HIV prevention talk in her class, and then doing both cheese-making and HIV education in yet another village next week. Then to visit a close friend in central province. Keep moving, that's my current slogan. I want to teach myself how to make fruit jam this weekend as well, so I can teach villagers how to preserve the abundance of a single fruit before it spoils (for example, now mangoes are falling everywhere, and many rot before they can be eaten).
Saw photos of my new hut... I can't believe how much work Peace Corps staff and my village have put into this new home! I am expecting to move in at the end of February, and I really cannot wait. I cannot wait to re-decorate my hut with paintings, wall-hangings, citenges, collages, photographs, etc. I am also planning a vegetable garden and kitchen compost, hoping to grow kale, lettuce, carrot, onion, and sunflowers. Hopefully the chicken wire can prevent the goats and cows from eating the vegetables! My new hut is located on top of a hill that overlooks the entire village, as well as the nightly golden sunsets. I have a mango tree, a bit more privacy, probably better cell service than I had before (which was next to nothing, so anything will be an improvement!), and hopefully a comfortable new home. Sending so much love to you all back home <3