Happy 2012 From Zambia!

Happy New Year from Zambia! It’s amazing to think that I have celebrated three new years in Zambia. 2010 and 2011 were both great years (for the most part anyway), and so far 2012 has been pretty good. In mid-December, I was approached by Open Africa, which is an organization that KTL and specifically the Community Relations Project have been working with to promote eco-tourism and development of tourism activities in the area. Basically, they need someone to work with the monitors we trained at the workshop back in May (and who haven’t really done anything since) and help monitor and promote conservation activities for the participants in the route. This project has been funded by the Global Environment Fund (GEF) and the World Bank. By happy coincidence, this funding finishes in May – just like me. I am still working on figuring out exactly what I am supposed to be doing, but I am excited for this opportunity, and I think it will benefit me professionally. For more information about Open Africa as an organization, visit their website at www.openafrica.org.

For Christmas, I went to Lusaka and spent a few days with my boyfriend and his family and friends. It was really nice to be a part of a family Christmas celebration – although it was very different than the family Christmases I am used to in America. We also attended five (yes, 5!) Christmas parties throughout the weekend. I got to have an interesting glimpse into a whole other side of Zambia – that of the white Africans who have made Zambia their home. I felt really welcome and had a great time the entire weekend.

After Christmas, we headed down to Victoria Falls. Instead of spending this New Year’s Eve in Livingstone (on the Zambia side) like I had the past two years, I decided to go across to the Zimbabwe side. We stayed at a super nice hotel just outside of Victoria Falls town called Elephant Hills Resort. Victoria Falls was hosting a music festival called Falls Fest. This was the third music festival I’ve attended in Africa – which is three more than I’ve attended in America. The headlining act for the festival was Locnville, which is a group from South Africa. I downloaded their album, and as it turns out, it is awesome. They put on an awesome live show as well. Most of the big acts played on the 30th, and the 31st was mostly cover bands and DJs. It was well organized (lots of bars) and the liquor and food were surprisingly cheap. It was a bit strange to be using American dollars again but also nice to be using a currency without so many zeroes. The trip to Victoria Falls was a nice break, and I enjoyed the time hanging out with friends, new and old. We did do one really touristy thing – afternoon tea at the Victoria Falls hotel. We had a full tea service – tiny sandwiches, scones, and delicious pastries. It was lovely.

After ringing in the new year, it was back to Lusaka for a day before heading back to Serenje. Luckily, the boyfriend was on leave from work so he was able to drive me back to Serenje and to Kasanka. I was able to show him around Serenje and Kasanka. It was a great trip.

I’ve spent the last week in Serenje at the Peace Corps house as the acting PCVL. Basically, I’ve been babysitting the house and making sure it is stocked with everything we need. I’ve also been doing some work, including launching a new blog. This new blog is focused on what I’ve been doing for Open Africa. It is a review of the stops on the Nsobe Sitatunga Route. I hope to get all of the attractions in the next five months and write reviews about all of them. So far I have written about Serenje boma and our visit to Wasa Lodge at Kasanka. Check it out at nsoberoute.wordpress.com!

I hope you all had a great holiday season and a great start to 2012. I don’t have much planned for the next few weeks, just trying to figure out what is going on with Open Africa and getting everything sorted out with that program. I plan to visit some more of the sites and also follow up with the monitors that were trained at the workshop in May.

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