The Village (Family Vacation Part 6)


Aunt, uncle, host dad, potatoes.

Reading this week:

  • Ghost Wars by Steve Coll
  • Rise to Globalism by Stephen E. Ambrose and Douglas Brinkley
  • Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson (I think their argument is a lot better for explaining the world post-1500 than “since the Neolithic”)

The highlight of the whole trip for my family, and really the whole reason they came to Zambia, was to finally see my site. This was quite an experience for them and I am really glad that they were able to come.

A lot of volunteers, when their family visits, spend at least one night at their site. Since I had a total of nine people, I decided this wasn’t particularly feasible and so we just did a day trip. That was enough though. I had warned my host family we were coming, so I sent my host dad a text to confirm we were on our way, we loaded up into our vehicles, and off we went.

One of the best parts about my site is that I am in a valley, and right at the entrance of the valley you get a magnificent view of the whole area, including some of the surrounding villages and the fields, looking way out even to the Tanganyika escarpment. On the way in we stopped there and took pictures. I wish they could have seen my village during the rainy season when everything is lush and green, but it is still a gorgeous view. After photos, we continued on our way into the village picking up a whole trail of kids along the way. Since a car driving in full of my family was probably the most exciting thing going on that day, every single kid in the village was following my family to my doorstep.


My uncle explaining something or other to an enraptured audience.

As we got out of the car my host dad and mom came out and greeted us, and that was fun for me to have my real dad and mom meet them. Introductions were made all around and I brought my family over to my house to get a good look. I think they were pretty impressed with my setup but maybe that is my ego talking. The family was probably most amused by all the kids since I guess they’re not used to having a gaggle of dozens of children enthralled by your mere presence. My aunt and uncle took the opportunity especially to put on some little mini-shows for the kids; they had a previous job putting on live plays of poetry for school assemblies so this was right up their alley. Even my mom got in on the action and the kids all seemed to love it.

Since I am always excited to show off my host dad’s ponds and gardens, I dragged the family pretty quickly down there and gave them the whole tour. My host dad came along of course and had a good time explaining everything we were doing together with to my family. I know that it was really my host dad doing all the work, since all I am is an adviser, but the family was pretty impressed by all my host dad had accomplished and thought his gardens and ponds were really very beautiful. Same, fam, same.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

After viewing the ponds my host family invited us over to lunch which was really very nice of them. We were a big crowd like I mentioned but my host dad I think had a lot of fun hosting us. That was really cool my host family got to see how I eat lunch every day. By this point in the trip they had already eaten some nshima, but it just isn’t the same in a sorta fancy restaurant as it is with good ole’ fashioned home cooking, you know?

In addition to lunch, my parents had wanted to give some gifts to my host family to thank them for taking such good care of me. From America, my family had brought some nice pocket knives and kitchen scissors, which I thought were pretty good gifts. To this stack I added some little things I was planning on giving to the host family anyways, like a packet of watermelon seeds for my host mom. So I arranged for my mom to give my host mom a small stack of gifts, and for my dad to hand my host dad a small stack of gifts. Smiles all around and everyone really had a good time. A little after lunch, having thoroughly viewed the village and having had my two families finally interact, we packed up and headed out. Quite the experience for both parties and I am really glad it could happen.


I don’t know who most of these children are.