OkaZHI: Okanagan-Zambia Health Initiative

The True “Land of Living Skies”


     I would like to take a little extra space and do a bit of a random entry in this blog to tell you about a few aspects of our environment here. For me one of the biggest things to get my head about is the never-ending sky stretched out around us; the sheer vastness of it gives me goose-bumps. I am so use to the contained sky of living within valley mountains that not seeing a discernible end to it kinda freaks me out. Another thing with the sky is the clouds in it. They aren’t like back home either. They are really lively, almost sprinting across the hemisphere at times, and they take on so many different shapes, climbing up and twisting around. The clouds of the Okanagan will forever look like white cardboard cut-outs to me now. Also, you would think that with that much sky to see, one could anticipate a storm a few hours before it arrived, but you can’t. Don’t even try, it can’t be done. When the air starts to feel heavy and you think you can see the dark wall of grey coming, you have at most 30 minutes to get inside. Side note: The name of the street we are living on translates into “the place where lightning strikes” (Limulimga). So yeah, we get inside. I feel like I need to mention the floodplains at this point, and try to explain to you how amazing they are, but I don’t think it is the sort of thing that can be put into words. It is one of those ‘you really need to see it to get it’ kind of things. The last thing I am going to say about our physical environment is this: SO MUCH SAND.
      Moving on. The social environment is pretty awesome. Eye contact and smiles are shared with all the people you see, and saying “good morning” to everyone you pass would not be considered weird or unusual. Have you ever tried to say hello to a stranger on the street in K-town? I have. People give you a wierd look and probably believe you to be on drugs. Here, getting a million “good morning, how are you” ‘s each day can almost be expected, and feels awesome. The downside to all this friendliness is that you get nowhere fast. Seriously. If you have somewhere to be good luck getting to it on time. Socializing is so important here that you might be offending people if you tried to walk away from a conversation, even with the excuse of needing to be somewhere.
     Finally, I would like to talk about a little bit of culture. The Lozi people are so many things. Open and friendly. Stoic and determined. Honest and resourceful. You can rely on them to never be on time. They wear simple white bracelets, with more bracelets meaning higher status. Older women are respected for their knowledge. A shetange has 101 uses. The streets are full of people working, socializing and playing. The list goes on and on, but I think I have written enough for now. My one final thought is of the Canucks. To them, I say this: Get it together. Now. Enough of this bad news from home please, I would like to come back to see some playoff hockey, not to hear about how you all have had fun out golfing.  
—————–Stephanie Simpson

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