Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Our Garden

Ok, so I must apologize.  It has been a few months since I have posted anything.  Long ago, I promised to post photos of our house soon.  I finally have some photos to share.  These are the pics that I took of the outside of our house and our garden (or "yard" for our American friends).

 Here is the view of the inside of our gate and our driveway.

This is the front of our house

and here is the back.

This photo was taken from our back door, looking left.  The pink building in the corner is the servants' quarters, where our housekeeper and her family live.

This is the view looking to the right.  The pink building is the pump house for the pool.

I know that our lapa ("gazebo") shows up in another photo, but it is one of my favorite aspects of our yard, so here is a photo.  We spend a lot of time here!  The girls and I eat outside most days and I like to sit in the nice wicker furniture and read or respond to emails while the girls play outside.

Finally, here is the side of our house and our garage.  The garage has some fun acoustics.  Once a week, we host a group of toddlers for a playgroup.  When they all come over, they love to go to the garage and shriek because the garage amplifies their sounds - imagine how loud a group of shrieking toddlers can be!

Stay posted for photos of the inside of our house.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

We have internet!

The middle of last month, we moved into our house.  A few days after moving in, we started the process to get our internet.  We expected the process to take a few days or maybe a week, but were shocked that it actually lasted about a month.  We finally got our internet just over a week ago.  The process, like many things in Zambia was complicated.

First, we had to go to Zamtel (the phone company) and request that a survey be done of our house to see if it would be possible to get a phone line for internet.  At that time, we had to submit a letter from our landlord stating that we did live at the property and had permission to get a phone line and internet.  After making the request, we waited about a week for them to come to do the survey.  As it turned out, though, as soon as the technician arrived at our house, he remembered our property from a previous tenant, so an actual survey of the property was not necessary.  In fact, he never even came through the gate into our yard.

After the survey, we returned to Zamtel to fill out two forms (see photo below) to request a phone line.  The form required a lot of information and a passport-sized photo.  It took the technicians another week to come and install our phone line.

Then, I went back to Zamtel to fill out the same form again (with another photo) to request our internet. Again, we waited over a week for the installation.

While we waited for our internet, we used internet through the cell towers.  USB drives with SIM cards can be purchased at the cell phone stores here.  The internet was not great and did not do well for uploading photos, but it was better than nothing.

Thankfully, we now have real internet and it has been working well.  Now, that we have internet, I have a lot of posting to do!  I have house photos, vacations, and other fabulous activities that I can't wait to share, so stay tuned!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Kalimba Reptile Park

This afternoon, we visited Kalimba Reptile Park, which is located about 45 minutes from our house.  

Kalimba has several snakes including a python and mambas, but our favorite thing was the crocodiles.  

We saw crocodiles in a variety of sizes.

And, we saw some of the largest crocodiles enjoying a lunch of chickens.

We got within a few feet of many of the large crocodiles.

After seeing the animals, the girls had a fabulous time playing at the playground.  

We had a lot of fun at Kalimba and I am sure that we will go again!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My First Time Driving in Lusaka

This morning, I did something that was both exciting and terrifying.  I drove for the first time in Zambia!  Since we first started talking about moving here, I have been dreading driving in Lusaka.  They drive on the wrong side of the road and I read in multiple sources that many of the drivers are a little crazy.  

For the first two weeks that we were here, Mark's company lent us their driver.  On the weekends, Mark has been driving our car (a Toyota Prado).

This week, the girls and I have mostly stayed home. Yesterday, we needed to run some errands at the mall and hired a taxi (with a driver recommended by a friend) for the afternoon.  I was thankful that the taxi driver was available to drive us as the traffic around Manda Hill shopping center can get a little crazy!

Today, the girls had art class, which is only about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) from our apartment and on the main road near us.  I did not want to pay a taxi for such a short drive, so decided to drive it myself.  The girls and I loaded up into our car and headed to art class. 

While it was scary at first, driving in Lusaka was not that bad.  I am still not ready to drive in the busy parts of town and it feels weird to drive on the opposite side of the car and the road, but I feel confident about driving near our house.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lunch at Revolucion Mexican Bar and Grill

For lunch today, we decided to try a Mexican restaurant here in Lusaka.  Having moved from Texas, we like our Mexican food and we are accustomed to eating at Mexican restaurants on a regular basis.  We saw that Revolucion Mexican Bar and Grill had 4 out of 5 stars on Trip Advisor (and is one of the few Lusaka restaurants with any reviews), so we decide to try it.  They do not have a website, but you can see their Facebook page here.  

With the tropical trees and the Mexican decor, I felt like I was dining in Mexico.

We did not expect the food to be as good as what we got in Texas, but we were still hopeful for good food.  As it turned out, the food was mediocre; not bad, but not great either.  

We had chips and salsa,

chicken burritos,

pork tacos,

and meat and cheese quesadillas.

I was told by another American that the Revolucion has great margaritas and is a wonderful place for happy hour, so we might have to try that sometime.  We have also heard that there is a very good Mexican restaurant, owned by a Nicaraguan, close to our house.  The next time we are craving Mexican food, I think that we will try it. 

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Zambian Grasshoppers

This morning, the girls and I looked out our door and saw a huge grasshopper sitting on a chair.  I told the girls that it was a grasshopper; Abigail replied "I thought it was a chair hopper".  

We went outside and watched the grasshopper for about thirty minutes.

When the maids arrived, the girls showed them the grasshopper.  Carol (one of the maids) told me that some tribes in Zambia cook and eat grasshoppers.  Of course, I had to learn more, so I googled it and found some information here and here.  I learned that the Bemba tribe in the Northern Province uses grasshoppers, caterpillars, and other insects in a variety of dishes.  Insects are a good source of protein and fat and are easily accessible.  You can see a video of a family cooking and eating grasshoppers here.  Carol watched this video with me and said "that is real starvation".  She told me that other Zambian tribes also eat rats and monkeys, but told me numerous times that she does not eat any of those things!

While I do plan to try a lot of new things during our time in Zambia, I don't think that I will be cooking or eating any grasshoppers (or rats or monkeys)!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Home Sweet, Temporary Home

When we arrived in Lusaka last week, we were immediately taken to our temporary home - a furnished apartment in a new complex.  There are eight apartments (or "flats") in the complex and we were the first tenants to move in.  We will be living in this apartment for two months while we look for a house to rent.  The apartment is not perfect, but it meets our needs for now.

Many friends have asked what our accommodations look like here, so I took some photos to share.  It is very modern and looks like an apartment one might find in the US.

Here is the outside of our apartment.  You can see our car out front (I will write more about it later).

This is the living room.

We also have a very small living area upstairs.

Our kitchen is smaller than the kitchen in our Texas home, but still meets our needs.  I am missing having a microwave, though!

Our dining area has a table and a wine cabinet.

The apartment has three bedrooms, a master bedroom

and two smaller bedrooms (both look like this).

We have three bathrooms.

The apartment complex also has a communal swimming pool and a fitness area.  I did not take a photo of the fitness area, but it has exercise bikes, a treadmill, an elliptical machine, and weights.

The apartment complex provides a 24-hour security guard at the gate to the complex, as well as maid service (there are four maids, plus a head maid).

Our apartment is nice, but we are glad that we don't have to live here for our entire two years in Zambia.  The stairs aren't safe for the girls (they are uneven and there is a huge gap between the railing and the stairs).

Plus, there is no place outside where the girls can play.  And, there is not a good spot indoors for a play area.  Their temporary "playroom" is under the stairs.

I will be glad when our two months here is over and we can move into a real house!