Things have been winding down here over the last few weeks. It is hard to believe that I only have about a month left before I finish at Kasanka National Park. The biggest question that I have been getting is what am I doing next, what’s the plan? Truthfully, I am still looking for the answer. It looks like I will be returning to Iowa mid-June, but I still haven’t booked any tickets. Mostly I am still waiting for Peace Corps to give me my ‘cash in lieu’ instead of a plane ticket home. Most volunteers select this option instead of having PC book a ticket so they can travel a bit before heading back to the States. Right now my plan is to hang out in Zambia for a week or so after my official COS (Close of Service) on May 24th, and hopefully visit South Luangwa National Park for a couple of days. I’ve only been to SLNP briefly (although it was an eventful 45 minutes – elephant charge, lion sex, and lots of animals) so I am looking forward to getting a chance to experience the park and hopefully take some great wildlife photos.
I am then planning to head to Cape Town, South Africa for a week or so. A good friend of mine from Peace Corps Zambia is currently studying at the University of Cape Town, so I am looking forward to visiting her and seeing the world’s top tourist destination.
And then it will be back to Iowa, unless plans change (and this is Africa, plans almost always change). I have been looking for jobs on both sides of the ocean, and have applied for several. Hopefully I will be able to find something that I will love as much I have loved living in Zambia the last three years. Job searching is always difficult, but especially when I am on a different continent and only have internet access (and power for that matter) about once a week.
As far as work goes, I have been mostly working on putting together some funding proposals for Open Africa. Open Africa has received funding for conservation and monitoring of the flagship species. The flagship species for the Nsobe Sitatunga Route are sitatunga, elephant, black lechwe, shoebill and wattled crane. Hopefully we will get funding to have two community schools come for a park visit, to buy GPS units for the scouts to monitor species, and maybe even get the calendar from the Art Contest for Conservation printed. The trick is that this money has to be spent before the end of May. So the next few weeks will be filled with activity.
There is still no power at the Conservation Centre, which is completely frustrating. The majority of the work I should be doing right now is paperwork – funding proposals and budgets for Open Africa, and paper for Peace Corps before I COS. I am disappointed in how long it has taken to get this fixed. I know it is Africa, but five months seems excessive for a small part that can be purchased in Lusaka. It is frustrating that the people in charge do not seem to think that the Community Relations Project is important enough to have the electricity restored in a timely fashion. Ok, that’s my rant for the day.
Anyway, I will keep this blog updated as much as possible over the next few weeks as I say goodbye to Kasanka National Park, Serenje, and Zambia. It will be difficult, but I am looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life. If you have any special requests for souvenirs, let me know!