Baraka Zambia Programme Manager
Having previously worked in Cameroon, I was eagerly anticipating how I would adjust, physically and mentally, to life in Zambia. After working in a conflict zone, one would assume you would have developed a high threshold when it came to various factors which a "mzungu" (an endearing name for a white person) might, typically, find tricky adapting to. The heat, for example, or showering with a bucket, power cuts or no electricity for long durations.
Truth is, no matter where you've been or the blazing temperatures you might have endured, your body never fully acclimatises to the African sun. I think I also speak on behalf of my colleagues, and Zambians in general, who frequently expressed their feelings of despair regarding the erratic weather conditions. (If you saw what climate change did to Australia, you should see what it's doing to Africa - a tune for another day perhaps.) On the plus side, the heat makes those cold bucket showers feel like heaven on earth, and you become quite relieved to have no power in the evenings - means you can justify an early night and get up when the air is just a little bit cooler.
I think if you're open to change, it's quite easy adjusting to a new lifestyle, culture, or location, but you also have to be opportunistic. If there's an element which seems more challenging, be observant and become well acquainted with your surroundings. Eventually, you will discover someone, or something, that will completely change your perspective and allow you to adapt to situations you never thought possible. For example, when boredom strikes in the bush, I found that you can really get yourself immersed in ant watching. Who needs BBC's 'Planet Earth' or David Attenborough hey? (I take that back, we all need David in our lives.)
I'm just being facetious of course, there are plenty of activities to keep oneself busy in the bush. Cycling towards a big black rain cloud and having to Chris Froome back to shelter is a newfound adrenalin sport of mine. As some of you know, when it rains in Zambia, the heavens open and if you're caught in the storm, it can be a Toto failure. A stroll into Kapiri town (Debonairs*) is also a fun activity on a Saturday, or if you're not quite up for the walk, hopping on a passing ox and kart is also an option - although it's a pretty bumpy ride.
Chasing rain clowds on the bike (you can just about hear the thunder)
It is pretty simple adjusting to life at the Learning Centre, you have your ups and downs as you would living anywhere, but if I were to suggest anything, it would be to make sure you have an excellent book. That's right, a good book that's big enough to absolutely annihilate any intruding arthropods. My colleagues, Mike and Kings, whom I live with, can vouch that when it comes to unwelcomed insects (as opposed to my new ant-friends), I become Liam Neeson from 'Taken;' " I will find you... and I will squish you..."
*Debonairs: Takeaway Pizza in town which, sadly, doesn't do deliveries to the bush..