July 23-24

Yesterday was by design a leisurely day. I decided to try out a few ideas. The first was making a knife as there is a limited supply in the village and none can be bought at the market. I keep asking to borrow them and I'd rather just have one. I had traded Charles a 2 kg bag of sugar for two scalpel blades used for shaving the slaughtered pigs. With David's help, I inserted the blade into a small stick. To secure the blade in place, David melted some plastic in the remaining space between the stick and blade. It was a success and I used it to skin the pork belly we braai'ed last night with ease.

The next project was a plastic bottle ribbon cutter. These tools use a fastened blade raised a few millimeters above a board to cut plastic bottles into surprisingly strong string, which is in short supply in Shamiyoyo. The current supply of string is sourced from discarded tires or tree bark.

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Shamiyoyo has no extra washers or screws, and no one has a screwdriver. Richard was visiting and I asked him to be my guide and translator if needed at the market while I looked for these supplies. It took stops at four different shops to find these supplies but they only cost about 20 kwacha. Before returning to the village, I decided I wanted my first (and second) beer in over a week and rewarded Richard for his help and company with a cold one.

Mosi - a Zambian beer named after the native name for Victoria Falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke which Thunders), one of the seven natural wonders of the world and by some measures the largest waterfall on Earth. 10 kwacha or about $0.75 each.

Mosi - a Zambian beer named after the native name for Victoria Falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke which Thunders), one of the seven natural wonders of the world and by some measures the largest waterfall on Earth. 10 kwacha or about $0.75 each.

I used the wooden back of a discarded brush to fasten the washers and blade. After some practice runs, I got it to work. I think I'll make a few more for the village with the hope that, while reducing plastic litter, they'll be able to make lashings for their houses, fishing nets, baskets, and other tools and crafts.

I ended the day by watching Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse with Wana. It was both of our first times watching it. I knew it got good reviews, but it lived up to its reputation. Solid movie with a stunning, stimulating, and original visual style. I remarked that I'd never seen a movie like it, and Wana joked that neither had he. It was also his first time seeing a depiction of New York City (or any US city). He described NYC as beautiful and was surprised at the size and number of cars.

I woke up today a little late around 7:30. For breakfast, I boiled some eggs (15 kwacha/dozen at the market) and had rooibos tea with fresh squeezed lemon juice from a tree a stone's throw away from my tent. As I was drinking tea, I noticed Gertrude and a few young girls were playing with a dead chick. I notified her mother and she just laughed. TIA.

Gertrude is a cutie despite her affinity for dead baby chickens.

Gertrude is a cutie despite her affinity for dead baby chickens.

After Mufulu and Chim dropped off firewood for me, Wana's aunt stopped by as she was going to work in the garden and I offered to help. They are growing cabbages in this garden and I was tasked with spreading grass in between rows to reduce evaporation after watering the crops.

Wana's aunt working in the garden. Since last year, she and about half the women in the village call me Mr. Ngombo as a nickname. Ngombo means 'compass' or 'navigator.’

Wana's aunt working in the garden. Since last year, she and about half the women in the village call me Mr. Ngombo as a nickname. Ngombo means 'compass' or 'navigator.’

Normally, no big deal. However, I just learned yesterday that the local venomous black snakes I heard about are black mambas and sightings are not infrequent here, though bites are exceedingly rare (I'll be fine Mom). I'm hesitant to report this knowing my Mom reads this, but Charles just informed me he was bitten once, and in his words, 'it was only on my ankle.’ After tying a tourniquet, he went to the nearby hospital and recovered after one day. As a safeguard against these snakes while working in the garden, Wana's aunt pokes the grass with a stick before I handle it. After about an hour, she said we were finished because she was too itchy. Per usual, she will return in the evening to continue working.

As we left, I noticed a crowd and herds of cattle on the soccer field. I was told the Kaoma vet was vaccinating cattle for black leg disease (locally known as black quarter disease). Infected cattle can quickly lose the ability to walk and some die in under a day. Local cattle herders pay 2.50 kwacha per vaccination.

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The cows were herded into a space enclosed by a square wooden fence. As they were funneled single file into the narrow exit, the vet injected each one as they walked by. Perhaps a little foolishly, I stood at the exit to snap photos. I narrowly escaped being rammed by a few with horns exceeding a foot in length as being stabbed with a needle makes no one happy. I never say never but that experience may have convinced me that the Running of the Bulls is not for me.

Tonight, I'm attempting to make tomato sauce from scratch as Wana has never tasted it. I hope I do it justice with the limited ingredients I have at my disposal. Wish me luck.

Update: some rats ate half of my tomatoes so the sauce has been postponed.

Ben KirbyComment