So Buffalow Hump, the Comanche chief, pleads to his warriors “leave your guns here and let us make war like the old ones made it.”
First valiant Comanche to throw in his gun is Yellow Foot,.
He was said to be “very proud of his gun and have wasted many bullets shooting at game that was too far away to hit. Twice he had killed young horses because his vision was so poor and he mistook them for deer. Buffalo Hump was pleased when he saw the old warrior come forward. Though a little crazy, Yellow Foot was much respected in the tribe because he had had over a dozen wives in his life and was known to be an expert on how to give women such extreme pleasure that they would remain jolly for weeks and not complain as other women did.
'I am leaving my gun' Yellow Foot said. 'I don't want to smell all that gun grease anymore.'”
Do yourself a favor and try to be more like Yellow Foot.
I mentioned to a bunch of people, “I want to read 200 books while over here.”
Did the math and wanted to diary apologies for being hasty; that’d be 8 and one third a book every month and I’m only four down in September.
I’ve got a good collection going though.
In the September Issue of Surfer Mag they ran a story about surfing in Gambia, a country that is much closer to me than any of the U.S. States. They mentioned PCVs and I recently sent the following e-mail to them letting them know how stoked I was to read about it:
Praise from the African Continent
I subscribed for my second digital year of Surfer Magazine on January 1, 2013 when I could get the whole year for $1.99; needless to say the rest of 2013 has been a letdown (only kidding).
At the time I was unaware I’d be headed to Sub Saharan Africa, to one of the seventeen landlocked countries in this wet-world of ours, for twenty seven months of Peace Corps service. I wanted to help and since they’d obviously disregarded the fact that I asked to be near a body of water, they must’ve really needed it. So here I am sitting in my thatched mud hut with my computer, working with an internet hotspot so I can connect my airplane-moded-iPhone to said hot-spot to then download my Surfer Mag.
A week ago while studying the September release I was shocked to read The Alchemy of Gambia. I had never heard of the place and it’s name was so close to my current country of residence, Zambia, that it had to be in Africa too. I consulted the pocket World Atlas I brought, found the Gambian-spec on the African continent, and got back to my studies. The similarities continued; Gambia had gained independence from England in 1965, Zambia gained theirs from the same empire in 1964; the Gambians don’t have a word for surfing, Zambians barely have a word for swimming. Then they mentioned Peace Corps Volunteers. “I can’t go surfing but I’m in Surfer Mag!” I thought. The next day I told my language teacher, a fifty year old Zambian who doesn’t know how to swim, just how excited I was and he gave me a solid high-five, a gesture I had taught him just a few weeks before. He shared my stoke.
I’ve made the right decision to come but not having the big blue medicine pill is devastating. I watch Litmus, Longer, or Come Hell or High Water once a week to keep sane, and I’m waiting on the balance-board I recently asked my local carpenter to make. I’ll hopefully be taking a trip or two to the Western coast of this continent, but your magazine will continue to help me keep it together until then.
Thanks for the thoughtful writing and beautiful images.
P.S. Try to make sure there is an Exposure section in all the the Surfer Magazines until September 2015.
Here in the Zam-nation I’ve been noting some cultural variances in my memo book when I can. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
Some differences include
Some similarities include
Oh yeah, and I live in a mud hut with a thatch roof.
More variance to be noted at a later date.
I read from a collection of essays by E.B. White when I’m in between books. I’ve been rifling through paperbacks while I have other trainees around to trade them with, so I’ve been in limbo a number of times in the past two months. In his Foreword, White validates the essay as a valuable form of expression. If anyone has the authority to do so, it’s E.B. White:
“The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest… . And even the essayist’s escape from discipline is only a partial escape: the essay, although a relaxed form, imposes its own disciplines, raises its own problems, and these disciplines and problems soon become apparent and (we all hope) act as a deterrent to anyone wielding a pen merely because he entertains random thoughts or is in a happy or wandering mood.”
Therefore TheMoneyBank exists.
One of my favorite sections of Surfing Magazine is the “Stuff” page, where they take a photo of a surfer’s gear so readers can gawk over it.
Here’s a photo I took the night before I left NY for Zambia, all geared up.
Some highlights include; sea sponge; chess board and olive wood pieces; swamp-dust spice; monocular; linen scarf (fashion travels with me); enough patagonia gear to outfit a broke college grad with a fetish; freeze-dried ice-cream bar (Thanksgiving desert); rainbow-colored head massager; and a headband, in preparation for the mass of hair I’d soon be sporting.
Far from an outstanding student in College and High School, I didn’t fully expect for my interview with the South Eastern Peace Corps Recruiter to lead into a two year commitment, but I sometimes can mask a lack of extra-curriculars with a dangerously positive attitude.
Either way, I made my way to a Starbucks on King Street with a tailored résumé for the position, on which I included “Physical Accomplishments” as my culminating subheading. I wasn’t so sure about it at the time.
I’m no outstanding athlete. I’ve gotten top tens in a few mud-runs, run in some pavement-based races, and have contributed 33% for a win in a team-triathalon. But other than swimming all the time, biking to work while in college (about 30 miles a week), and, when feeling stupid, running with my ultra-marathoning friend (runningwiththebears.tumblr.com), I’m no outstanding athlete. I guess I just like smiling at chicks while I run or bike by them.
But I mentioned my affinity for sweating and it came up in the interview. We talked about how much biking I loved to do and how much I was willing to bike in the future. It proved a good idea to mention my love for chain-rigged, two-wheeled, human-powered machines.
Now I bike as a means of transporting myself everywhere. I’ve been given the opportunity to ride Valorie everyday, and you can find me in Susé Village charging downhill on her every morning and uphill on her every evening.
Below is a photo I took of her during a break we took so I could catch my breath.
And this is the path we took to the market, 5k away.
I’ll be writing more about bicycles sometime soon; I’ve fallen so many times on them it’s absurd.
Before I drove back NE to then ultimately make my way across the Atlantic, a friend came over with The Jungle Book and a poem also by Kipling for me to bring on my journey. The poem was rewritten by my buddy and I now use it as a bookmark. It’s one of the things I don’t leave the hut without, mostly because it’s in my book, but I don’t leave without it either way.
The final stanza reads:
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch, if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, if all men count with you, but none too much; if you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, yours is the earth and everything that’s in it, and - which is more - you’ll be a man, my son!
Not a bad thing to keep in mind no matter where you’re spending your time.
Photographed above, at some Mayan ruins in El Salvador this past fin-del-mundo, is my buddy.
Not going to Church on Sunday in Zambia is like not being beautiful in Charleston; it’s OK but you’ll feel like the odd-man-out.
It’s a good idea to have a solid alibi as to why you’re not putting on a collared shirt and some shoes, and headed down the bush-path to church. Trying to say you’re not religious and quoting Nicolas Müler, who once said “you could say snowboarding is like church to me,” wont cut it. It’s hard for me to try and explain my passions, like wave-riding, snow-riding, or staring into the night sky, so I answer the religion question with something like, “I believe in being happy and making others happy.” This is usually met with a look that says, “you’re white and you know some of my language?” I respond with a smile, I get a smile back; religion accomplished.
And so I do laundry Sunday mornings and read or play chess for most of the rest. Just think, if I would’ve gone to church I wouldn’t have been able to wear my collar-less RWSS (Rogue Wave Surf Shop) shirt all day, which would have put me that much further from my favorite place to worship; the ocean.
Went to play chess yesterday afternoon and found the only pickup in the Zambian yode-fleet was in Chipembi for the day.
I had a few buddies who lived in the city I went to college in that were huge Toyota fans. Not only would they buy lift-kits when they could barely afford rent, but they were constantly yelling about their trucks. I was semi-involved, as the driver of a FJ Cruiser, but didn’t have the same desire to put money into it.
I was with these guys constantly for a couple years, as neighbors and roommates, and when I first met them I was good at pretending I was as into the Yodes as they were. My mom had driven a Land Cruiser for as long as I could remember, which is the car I learned to drive in, and knew how well it could handle itself.
As time continued, tubes partially filled with water were past in circles, pizzas were consumed, trips were taken, and what began as an endearment for a machine blossomed into an ardor for the best machines on (and off) the road. Not only did I stop to take photos of blacked-out Tacomas and yell “Yode!” when a good looking truck passed by, but I even exchanged nods and machismo at stop-lights with other believers. Before I knew it I wouldn’t ever consider driving a different truck.
On one of the many trips I made from Charleston back to my parent’s home New York (surfboards on the roof, bike on the spare-tire, and the back of the truck filled), I remember my brother, John, snapping after I exclaimed “yode!” for what was probably the two-hundred and fiftieth time. I didn’t even realize I had been speaking; the transformation was complete.
And now my FJ is sitting idly in my parents driveway with nothing but sand in it, and I am in Zambia contractually not allowed to drive a motorized vehicle.
But it could be way worse; Peace Corps Zambia has a fleet of yodes and a group of drivers that share my passion for the machines. Who would’ve known (I should’ve) that I would still be immersed in yode culture here in Zambia? This is one of the many, and there will be more photos to come; rainy season should yield some good ones.
I’m a huge fan of the Field Notes and use my memo book all the time here in Zambia. I just sent the following to the company letting them know about their Zambian exposure:
'A New York “Country Fair” Edition put to some official US Government use in Africa
I immediately need to let you know I’m just a volunteer with the Peace Corps, which might not grant me that ability to say I’m on “official US Government” business here in Zambia, but it sounds cool.
I’ve had this New York “Country Fair” Edition Memo Book (2011) for a couple years now and only used it when I had no other paper to use (very rarely). I thought it was a waste to use such a book on mundane activities, such as grocery lists and utilities costs, when the practical applications are listed as “Rabbit Cage Diagrams” and “Dart vs. Balloon Strategic Analysis.”
Shema is the staple food in Zambia. It’s cornmeal mixed with water, boiled and stirred vigorously. It’s used as a utensil, main course, and desert all in one. I’ll hopefully add a picture here sometime soon.
And the musing begins. Expect nothing and you’ll be indifferent.