Cheddar Bay Biscuits (from his perspective)

We've now been in Zambia for well over one month. I'd envisioned writing a bit more frequently than I have thus far, but even in Africa, life has a way of pushing its own agenda on you. As a result, I'm imagining myself sitting in a restaurant (let's say Red Lobster) with someone who says they want to know "everything" that has happened up to this point on our trip. For my own writing purposes, I've decided that this will be the inspiration I'm going to use to begin this information "spill".

But luckily for us, our waiter has just arrived with a fresh batch of cheddar bay biscuits.

I ask for a strawberry lemonade and our waiter disappears to fill our drinks and give us time to look over the menu.

The weather is beginning to heat up here. Living in the midwest, I always felt like I could make the extremes of the seasons a bit easier to endure if I mentally prepared my body for really hot or really cold weather (I'm not sure if this is a human thing or just a weird me-thing). Oddly, I still feel like I need to be preparing myself for winter, but Blake and I are quickly realizing the reality that we are going to have a year straight of summer (really more like 18 months when we finally move back to the states). It's a strange experience to say the really messes with your head. 

We've been told that the really bad times of heat here, which apparently arrive during October/November and depends heavily on the rain, can feel like fire. I don't imagine it will get too much hotter than the summers at home, particularly during those days when the sun produces heat indexes so hot that your car thermostat reads 112, but you have near constant relief from the heat because of the plethora of air conditioning.

In other news, we are becoming professional chefs by living here. We have a pretty nice market here (relatively speaking, of course) and several small grocery stores, but many things are difficult to find, making cooking a challenge. For example, if we run out of cheese, we have to drive an hour and a half to Livingstone because no one sells it here. UPDATE: WE FOUND CHEESE AT ONE OF THE GROCERY STORES! I'm not sure if we should consider this a normal thing, but you can at least gauge our experience with finding various foods based off our excitement to finding cheese here.  

And on top of that, the things we can find here are not the same as they are at home. By this, I don't mean to say that we can't seem to find our favorite brands here (although there are a surprising amount of brands, ranging from Tic-Tacs to Lays, and of course Coke, that have made their way here), but rather that we don't have many of the pre-made, pre-packaged conveniences. We've developed a food schedule of sorts to help with our grocery shopping, but many things must be made from scratch because they only have ingredients to make things and not the things themselves.

Thankfully, Blake and I are getting a lot of help and are learning how to make things. All-in-all, we're actually eating fairly well. From baked potatoes to chicken enchilada soup, from corn flaked chicken to tacos, we are pushing ourselves to create a pretty nice little menu. We both decided early on that we would need good food here, because we wouldn't be able to survive for 9 months on a white rice diet. 

"Yes, I'll have the Crab Linguini Alfredo with a side of steamed vegetables, ranch on the salad, and could we get some more cheddar biscuits? Thanks." 

In America, you have access to everything. There's no energy shortage, it doesn't cost you a month's electricity to run the washer and dryer a couple of times, and you can run to the store to get literally anything you want and have ten different brands and size options to choose from. Now, to be clear, I do not think there is anything wrong with this, but I am discovering that there is a thin line between access and excess.

The ease of being able to run to the store, or any other number of American "convenience" oriented ways of life, is not inherently wrong. I do believe that there is something to think about with the amount of food we throw out, the energy we consume, the sheer amount of stuff we have. Be careful of having your access to things lead to an overabundance and an eventual idolization of your excess. I think it's incredibly difficult to self-examine that kind of thing.

Blake and I sometimes talk about how hard it's going to move back and try to strike the healthy balance between the way we live here and how that might translate (or not translate) back home. Anyway, I'll leave that alone now. 

As a short tangent, I feel compelled to tell everyone about wall spiders. These guys just hang out, practically flat, against the wall (it is extremely rare to see them somewhere that is not on the wall), and eat bugs that find themselves unknowingly within the spiders' range. They are incredibly fast. We've decided not to kill them, as creepy as that sounds. They don't bother us, and they do a nice service. It's basically a bit of symbiosis. Creepy, scary, haunting, symbiosis.

I think this guy's legs are a bit bigger than a half dollar size, but there are others whose legs span larger areas, exponentially increasing their spook factor.
But not all animals are bad. Especially not the four chickens we have! Blake and I knew we wanted to have chickens at some point in our lives when we have the house and space in the States, and our experience here has only sealed that deal for us. I built their coop with our day guard/gardener, Richird (to whom I apologize for misspelling his name in my first excerpt, but I'm quite certain he will never see this; and even if he could, he couldn't very well read them, so I think I'm in the clear), and Blake and I bought them several days later.

The chicken coop.
From back to front: Sandy, Momma, Goldy, and the lunatic, Becky, who refused to cooperate for this picture. 
It took them awhile to settle in to their new surroundings, and I had the hardest time finding them good feed, but after a week or so, they began to lay us eggs. Now we no longer have to purchase eggs from the store, and we have so many that we can give them away to people! The coop was made with sticks, string we found in the house, and chicken wire I bought for about $15, and each chicken was $5, so we will be operating in the green very soon.

We are trying our best to keep up with the chickens' output of eggs. 
Our waiter brings us our salads, which reminds me to give you an update on our garden!

The corn is looking amazing, carrots are really coming along, and everything else is either doing average or struggling, but I have confidence that things will come around before too long. Perhaps the rain will give them some needed relief from the sun (if the rain ever comes, that is).

Our corn is about knee high right now. 
The carrots have gotten even fuller since I took this picture about a week ago. 
Even so, Blake and I will have some much needed relief from the sun, because we just finished putting up our pool! The family that lived here before us, as I have mentioned previously, had 6 children, so we've got some treasures (and some junk) hidden in this house. As I write this, we are in the process of filling it up with a hose that's attached to a water facet that sometimes doesn't work. We've been filling it for nearly 6 hours now and it's about a fifth of the way full, so hopefully we'll be able to swim before we come back to America...

The hose on the right side of the pool makes its way back to our house, through the bathroom window, and attached to the shower head. 
We also found a trampoline...

The girls love to jump on the trampoline for recess time during school. 
As we finish the last bits of croutons from our salad, our waiter comes to take our dishes and tell us our food will be out shortly.

Two weekends ago, Blake and I had our first, and hopefully last, immigration woes. We entered the country on visitor's visas, which last one month. During that month, we were supposed to apply for worker's visas, which would last the entirety of our trip. Soon after our arrival, we gave everything we needed for our applications to a local man who works for the Mission, but he failed to take them to apply. That's just the unfortunate reality of African life, people do not value time as is sometimes needed.

As a result, we needed to exit and re-enter the country to get another set of visitor's visas (you are allowed to do this three times, so hopefully we don't have this issue again). Long story short, we did what we needed to do and ended up giving our things to a different man, who returned with our application receipt less than a week later.

But the real story here is that because we had to leave the country, we decided to make an adventure of it. We stayed at a little motel in Livingstone, and from there, took a day trip to the Chobe National Park, where we went on a Safari.

The first half of the day, we traveled by boat. It was an unbelievable experience. They drive you right up to animals sitting right on the shore, and parked you there until the group decided it was time to move on.
The boat.
When we made a stop to see some animals, everyone made their way to the front of the boat with their phones and cameras. Normally I don't like the "tourist-iness" of these kinds of things, but I've learned to embrace that they are usually popular tourist destinations for a reason. 

An elephant taking a mud bath. 
A couple of water buck, with some antelope in the background. 
This heard of elephants was about 15 strong. 
Just another elephant. 
This crocodile knew he was being photographed. 
A cape buffalo. 
Me admiring the cape buffalo. 
A big yawn from one of the hippos. 
The second half of the day was spent on a jeep.

A few zebras. 
This is a heard of cape buffalo and a couple of giraffes in the back, but it was difficult to get a great view. 
This was the highlight of the trip: four lions (although only three are pictured here, and two of them are well hidden behind that bush). 
Some evil baboons (they did nothing in particular to us, but I am a firm believer that all baboons are evil). 
But eventually, we had to return to our normal lives here. Saying that, I realize I haven't had much time to explain what I actually do here. But I'll save that for another blog, because this one seems to be getting long enough for one post.

As our bill arrives, I pick up the tab, leaving a generous tip (this is my fantasy, so I'll treat it however I fancy); but there is still one thing I want to say.

I'm not sure how many people know this, but during the final semester of college, I decided I wanted to go to Law School. I've since taken the LSAT, received my score, and created a list of schools I wanted to apply to.

Applications opened on September 1st, so I prepared a personal statement that I could cater to each school's requests, a personal resume, and proper internet connectivity. I applied to OU, KU, Washburn, and a couple of places far outside of the midwest, but something tells me Blake and I will want to be close to home once we finish this stage of our lives.

This entire process, from submitting my applications to submitting my non-refundable deposit to the school I end up choosing to attend, will all have to be done from thousands of miles away. It's an incredible task and a daunting decision, but there is plenty of time. I'm still waiting on acceptance or rejection from 5 schools, and then I will weigh my options.

To be clear, I am purposefully leaving this blog very vague and withholding most of the details of this situation, mainly because the only thing that really matters is where I ultimately choose to attend. When I finally make my decision and send my deposit, I will write an update accordingly.

Until next time,


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