Headman Changwe getting an early morning cigarette in.

In our Monday morning Teacher’s Meeting today while talking about the fact that everyone has problems, my head teacher looks over at white dude who’s always smiling and says, “Even Charles, he has problems, look he has no wife, that’s a problem.” 

The degree to which this is a problem became more apparent when I found I was the only one laughing. 

Most weekends there is a football match in my backyard. I like to go out and watch most days, this one was rainy.

This week I started practicing with them. 

As rainy and hunger seasons come to an end, the harvest is coming up.

Minga Stop Primary School provides lunch, rain or shine.

Home sweet home, bathing shelter with partially living fence, chimbuzi (outhouse).

Life is green in the rainy season.

Every other week I eat lunch a few kilometers from here with my friend Mr. Ngoma. He is retired from a good job working for the company that powers Zambia, and now owns a grinding mill. He also owns almost 50 chickens. 

I first ventured over there (he waved me down as I biked by) in October. Sometimes I go over with a surf magazine, some photos of the family,  or my chess set, but we mostly just sit around and chit-chat. 

One of the first times I went over for lunch he gave me a cock as a gift. When I got home with it (had strapped it to the back of Valarie for transport), my neighbor said I should let it get bigger before cooking it up. I proposed he keep it with his for a few months in exchange for me eventually turning it into chicken tacos. (It’s important to note that ‘taco’ is slang in Nyanja for bootie, and that I don’t usually get such great opportunities to showoff my vast knowledge of the local tongue). 

Months past, seasons changed, hair grew inches, and cocks got bigger. 

The first photo was taken in November, the rest were in late January. 

I was so tired after an hour of shredding the meat that I didn’t make tacos, we had chicken-taco-salad. 

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

  • absolutely no shame in picking your nose publicly
  • babies are so shocked by caucasians that they don’t hesitate to cry at first sight
  • no attention is paid to time commitments
  • witch-craft is considered particularly interesting, while astronomy is not
  • as a woman, showing some leg is not cool
  • as a human, not easting shema at least once a day is blasphemy 
  • playing music loudly through your phone is completely acceptable, if not encouraged, anywhere at anytime
  • you’re either not a drinker or a drunk
  • perception of non-human nature as anything but a resource is a joke

Some similarities include

  • cadbury chocolate
  • whistling
  • chess
  • affinity for bad pop-music (soldja boy, nicki manaj, and zam-pop all included)
  • people thinking that wearing a bike-helmet makes you look like a Jerray

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.

Electronic diaries are awesome because videos can be embedded into them.

This video is from the past March. I woke up before the mountain opened, drove the rental truck to Home Depot in a blizzard, and made this camera-dowel with an old employee named John. Thanks for your help John, it was the best 2.99 I’ve ever spent and let me show my buddies what the summit looked like.