My first adventure abroad, other than the occasional family visits to India, was the 2 months I spent in Yorito, Yoro, Honduras the summer after my first year in college. Along with 4 other fab students, I taught English and computer-literacy courses to Honduran youth. There was something about that summer that was so completely freeing – I finally learned how to go off on my own and create an adventure that was forever mine.
Zambia…is different. But being here reminds me so much of that summer. Between working at a local NGO, living in a small town, showering with cold water, washing clothes by hand, only drinking purified water, all the time in the world to craft friendship bracelets…the list goes on and on! Being here reminds me of everything I love and miss about Honduras.
I miss the delicious baleadas Doña Francisca cooked up for us every night and, of course, the occasional choco bananos we devoured from her freezer. I was a vegetarian then, but I still dream about the frijoles, tortillas, juevos, pasteles, and more that I consumed that summer.
To be honest, Yorito is where I learned to dance – salsa, merengue, bachata, punta, reggaeton…It’s a shame that I never managed to learn cumbia! My favorite nights were spent dancing in the local saloon until I was dehydrated or sneaking into the local colegio to crash their dance parties. Gina and I used to start the party at 10pm and stumble home sore with happiness around 4am. Any time I hear bachata, I am instantly transported back to those bailes and sorely miss all of my dance partners.
Back then my Spanish was not so impressive, but that’s the moment it began to improve. I remember being really quiet the first few weeks until I finally gathered the confidence to start speaking more. I was teaching English classes, but I was really learning Spanish. I fell in love with the language and how there are certain phrases in Spanish that just cannot be translated to English.
The first person I called while studying abroad in Montevideo was Mercedes, a sweet friend we made during our stay. I still WhatsApp with Mercedes and Gerlin and talk to my students from that summer frequently. I dream about sweet Jelen and the family that adopted us during our stay. I would give anything to reunite with them.
All this to say that I am coming to understand two things. First, I really love anything to do with Latin America, and I need a little bit of the music, language, food, or people to help me feel balanced. (That is why I am searching for a salsa/bachata club in Lusaka) Second, I have the opportunity to learn what Kitwe has to offer now. It is time to start exploring the new food, the new dance, a new language, and new people. I am not used to taking this long to find a community, but I am here for a year – longer than I have ever been abroad. Any time I travel somewhere I never want to leave, and I am really hoping Zambia will be the same.