Friday, July 20, 2012


Greetings from the Republic of Zambia!

All 68 of us have arrived safely in country. My bags arrived safe as well and untampered with, though most of my sunscreen exploded. Only one person did not get one of their bags. Not bad for the trip they have gone through.

We are staying at a hotel for now. Me and my roommate, Tom, share one room with two beds w/ mosquito nets and a bathroom. We will be here till Monday morning, when we will go to our first site visit. First site visit is when we 3-5 of us go to a current volunteers site for 3 days to see what they do, how they live, etc. Then we will officially begin training in Chongwe, get set up with our host families, divided into language training groups, and start living like we will live for the next 2 years.

Food here hasn't been as bad as I was expecting. I think they are going easy on us for now. Lunch yesterday was chicken and ox tail with shima (cornmeal porridge, tastes like grits), vegetables, and salad. There has always been sprite and fanta to drink.

It's funny, months ago I was dreaming about what it was going to feel like to be here right now, and I could only imagine it would be too surreal to take in. In fact, it doesn't feel much different than where we were. It is winter here, so last night it got down to about 40 F (but we all slept like babies, it had been something like 3 days since I had a decent night sleep). This morning it's dry and sunny, it feels great. No mosquitoes yet!

As it turned out, it was the last few days in the states that was more dreamlike. I had prepared for months to make this trip, stressed out about packing and how hard things were going to be like here. I never imagined the hours before takeoff were going to be the toughest times ahead of me. Once we got on the plane, everything got better. I have to say, if we had not had a day to meet with all the other volunteers, I would have had a much more difficult time. Just knowing that there are 67 other people who are going through the exact same thing, plus over 200 other volunteers already in country who have done it before made it much less stressful.

I apologize for no pictures yet. The internet here is incredibly slow and we will be turning in our computers and other valuables in the next hour to be put in a safe in Lusaka for the duration of our training. This will most likely be the last update for the next couple months. Internet and free time will be a thing of the past for us. We already have a schedule for the next week all laid out for us, and I'm willing to bet every minute is already scheduled for us for the next 3 months.

So, hold tight, I promise I'll have good pictures eventually.

Monday, July 16, 2012

And packed.

Packed and ready to go. 

82 pounds
A note on the last post: Feel free to send letters of encouragement and whatnot with the address, but hold off for a while on packages. There are some tricks to sending packages that will help to keep them from being tampered with, so I'll be letting you know as soon as I know more about them.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

If for any reason you feel the need to send me either a letter or package, here is the address you can use for the duration of my service:

Ben Bowman, US Peace Corps/Zambia
P.O. Box 50707
Lusaka, Zambia

I will be getting another address once I am placed in a village, which will be something like 2 months from now.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Still packing...

Well, I'm down to 9 days before I head out. Packing seems to be coming along quite well, just a few last minute things to get so I'm not too stressed about it. Peace Corps has given us some lists recommending things that we bring, but it is lacking in details and specifics, so it has been an unnecessary stress for all of us who are about to leave. Luckily we have had current volunteers in Zambia help us out on the Facebook group to ease our minds about what to take, what to leave, and what to send later.
This, plus clothes are supposed to fit into 3 bags. 
I will officially be heading out the morning of the 17th of July, 2012. Staging is a day and a half event will take place in Philadelphia, PA where we will have orientation presentations and paperwork. Then we embark on a 2am bus ride to JFK airport (Appropriately, since JFK started the Peace Corps) in New York so we can hop on a plane for 15 hours headed ~8,000 miles away to Johannesburg, South Africa. Then it's just a 2 hour layover and a 2 hour flight to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. The whole trip will last me about 48 hours my time, landing in Zambia at roughly noon their time on the 19th. That is, if everything goes to plan...