Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Hello Blogettes! It has been awhile. Actually it has been nearly 9 months since I updated the blog. (It even took me a while to remember my sign on password). A lot has happened over the last 9 months. We took a trip to Capetown, South Africa and it was fantastic. Capetown is unbelievably beautiful with its shoreline mountains and pristine beaches. The water was a little cold but it didn't stop me or Trevor from catching a few waves. Beth will attest that the shopping was comparative to anything available in the US and the people were friendly. We did not run into any trouble although I understand that street crime is pretty high. We also ventured out to wine country (Stellenbach, SA). South Africa produces some excellent wines and after three tours, beth had to take over the driving. Thereafter we drove down the coast to do some whale and great white shark watching.
After our Capetown trip we stayed close to home for the Christmas holidays enjoying the weather and utilizing our swimming pool and sauna. The beginning of the year brought a lot of work as I organized several training programs and was fortunate enough to bring a couple of my cohorts from the USA's office in Denver out to put on some training. It was good to see them and I think they had a blast going on safari and boating down the mighty Zambezi.
My last month here I actually spent most of it in the US trucking around a delegation of high level Zambians to visit our criminal justice system. We visited our national training center in South Carolina and the US Supreme Court in Washington DC.
Finally, we just watched the packers pulling out of our driveway with all our possessions heading out for the long journey back home. We are looking forward to returning back to our home in Durango and seeing our old friends and acquaintances.
As I look back, I realize that we have had the experience of a lifetime and seen and done things that I could not have imagined. I have met so many good people and further enhanced my appreciation for how incredibly lucky we are to be Americans. I don't care what anybody says, America has its problems but it is 100 times better than the alternatives. And anyone who doesn't believe that is either not American, has never lived in America, or has never lived anywhere other than America and incredibly and ignorantly thinks they have it bad.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What Happened to Summer?

On my last entry I reflected on our first year in Zambia and was looking forward to our return home for the summer. Well it is now August and summer is almost over. I have returned back to Zambia and anxiously await the arrival of Beth and the kids this weekend. This was the busiest summer I can remember. We spent two weeks in Durango which included attending a wedding over the 4th of July. We left Durango way before we wanted to and didn't accomplish everything we needed to do with our house nor did we see all the people we wanted to see etc. So for those we did not see, believe me it was not intentional.

It was nice to be back and as far as we could tell Durango didn't seem as affected by the recession as we had heard and read in the Herald but there did seem to be less people in town overall.

Our hastened departure from Durango was born out of necessity as our next stop was Maui, Hawaii. Maui provided us with a much needed vacation and a chance to just relax. The weather was cooperative and the accommodations were great. I got to reunite with my buddy Sam Grim who has pretty much lived on Maui since we both graduated from Durango High School. We were able to get plenty of beach time in and the surf was excellent to the point where it got too big on our last day. I also was able to show the kids where I used to live on Maui and took them to a few out of the way secret surf spots.

After buying our fill of t-shirts, moo moos, flip flops and all other things Hawaiian, it was time to return to Denver as the girls each had Volleyball camps to attend and Beth had shopping for school clothes in her sights. I had five days left in Denver before I would return to Zambia. Those days were spent visiting relatives, shuttling volleyball players, sitting in line at the DMV so that Rianne could get her Driver's permit, shopping, coordinating meals with relatives and moving to three different houses in five days!

Before I knew it, I was arriving at Lusaka International Airport and looking forward to my home and my things and looking back at the whirlwind tour that was our summer vacation.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Almost a Year.

Well Blogettes it has been almost a year since we touched down in Africa. It has been quite an evolution for the Candelaria family. Reflecting upon our arrival, we were definitely novices when it came to living abroad. Everything that had been so certain in our lives was suddenly uncertain. Not knowing what to expect or who to trust, we waded through or first month very skeptical and overly cautious.
The biggest obstacle to overcome was security. Coming from Durango, security was a concern but not an issue. However, upon our arrival at the airport we were greeted with security guards carrying AK-47 machine guns, police check points on the way to our new residence, and a 24 hour guard for our residence. Once at the house, there were bars on all the windows and locking iron gates over every door entrance. We were given a quick lesson on how to arm the alarm system and we were introduced to our guard. I could tell it made a big impression on Beth and the kids as there was an uneasy quiteness present in each of them. Never in my life had I ever really had to worry about my security or be in a position where my only defense was a call to the Marines.
When nightfall came and our Embassy sponsors drove away, the realization hit us that we were suddenly alone in a new country, did not know anyone, had no transportation, and we would have to totally rely on others for our basic needs until we got our bearings. I remember walking around the inside of the house looking for the safest place to take shelter should we ever come under attack. A place that would remain hidden from windows or doorways to buy us time while we waited for the Marines to arrive.
The following days we began to venture out. The first trip was a walk to the grocery store which was about 4 blocks away from our house. I purposely waited until about noon and then Beth and I briefed the kids on what we were doing, where we were going, and instructed them to stick close to mom and dad. As we left the confines of our walled yard and began walking down the street we were greeted with stares from the numerous Zambians that were walking on the street. I can't help but imagine that we looked like a duck family walking down the road. Me on one side herding the kids and Beth on the other doing the same.
When we arrived at the grocery store we were greeted with unfamiliar products that were very expensive. Once again it felt as though all eyes were upon us. (and they probably were because I'm sure we looked awkward and out of place). We bought a few things and left the store to walk back home. There was a lot of activity with cars, buses, and taxis whizzing by, horns honking and of course numerous people walking around.
As we made our way back into our safe haven, I painstakenly made sure all our doors and windows were locked and all alarms were on. As the first week wore on, we felt as though we were in a little better shape than when we arrived. The next week, I brought a vehicle and our world opened up quite quickly. As the weeks turned into months, our fears and concerns softened. But in Africa, there are constant reminders that you must stay vigilant even when things seem relatively calm. For instance, around Halloween a person who lived about 5 Kilometers down the road from us contracted an unidentified viral hemorraging fever (Ebola type). That person died within a week, the EMT who evacuated her to South Africa died about two weeks later and the person who tended to her in South Africa died about a week after that. To make matters worse, the original patient had a nephew living with her who just happened to sit next to Trevor at school and come to find out he was at home with a high fever. My anxiety level has never been higher as we waited to hear whether the nephew had the virus and wondering if Trevor had been exposed. For about a week every time Trevor sneezed or coughed I was in knots thinking that he may have the virus and what an idiot I was for bringing my family to Africa and exposing them to these things. In all honesty, we were about a day away from pulling up stakes and leaving. But as time wore on and the threat lessened, we held the course and all our worries were unfounded as the nephew did not have the virus and he returned back to school. (To this day, the virus has not been identified as any previously known virus, which is common in Africa as people die everyday from unknown illnesses.). Having survived that scare, the fact that all our worldly possessions and vehicle from the States still hadn't arrived seven months after they were packed seemed somewhat trivial, but nonetheless made life more difficult than it had to be.
Now that a year has almost passed, we are gearing up for a return home but not for good, as was the original plan, but instead just for the summer.
It turns out that we have adapted well and we were able to overcome our early fears of the unknown and unfamiliar. Our perceived security issues turned out to be nothing more than standard precautions. The kids enjoy their school, and as we had envisioned, they have been exposed to people, places and opportunities that simply do not exist in Durango, Colorado. We have travelled to numerous destinations on this continent, taken several safaris and visited one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world. (Victoria Falls)
So as I look back at our year abroad, and knowing that our decision to uproot and move to Africa is tested on a daily basis, I can only wish that anyone reading this will have the good fortune of experiencing those same trials and tribulations that we have because in my view it is the trips outside of our comfort zone that make life worth living.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

"Just give me some time."

Hey Bloggettes, I'm trying to catch you up so I'm doing multiple Posts.
After the departure of my parents, we had a week to decompress and then get ready for our next guests, Ryan and Peyton Woolverton. Ever since we moved to Zambia, Ryan has wanted to come visit. Early on, Ryan would talk a big game but he wouldn't pull the trigger and actually commit to buying the tickets. He continued to toy with the idea well into the Christmas season when I finally called him out on the carpet and essentially told him that if he was going to come out he either had to SH*& or get off the pot. It wasn't but a week later when I checked my emails and there was an itinerary for Ryan and Peyton sitting in my inbox.
Three months later, there they were walking in through customs at the Lusaka Airport. However, Ryan's bag didn't travel as well as he did and it was no where to be found. (Not uncommon for flights through Johannesburg, South Africa). Unfortunately, the following day once again failed to produce his bag so I provided him with some shirts and shorts and Trevor did the same for Peyton. With he and Peyton now looking exceptionally cool (due to the new duds) we headed out for Chipata, Zambia.
Chipata is on the eastern border between Zambia and Malawi and is about an eight hour drive from Lusaka. The drive itself was uneventful except for Ryan's amazement at how the Zambian women could carry so many things on the top of their heads with perfect balance. We would also slow down on numerous occasions to snap off pictures.
We spent the night at Mamarula's Lodge in Chipata. Again, somewhat uneventful except for the unintentional entertainment provided by Ryan. Shortly after check in Trevor came to our room laughing hysterically. Apparently, Ryan picked up a hot water kettle in his room thinking it was a flashlight. (Just for the record, the kettle looked nothing like a flashlight!) He proceeded to spill all the water in the kettle all over his tv and other electronics in the room just as Trevor and Peyton were walking into the room. As both kids burst out in laughter, Ryan could only react by stating "just give me some time guys". As we watched the hotel staff bring towels and mops, we kept hearing Trevor in the background saying over and over "just give me some time". For the rest of the trip, whenever someone did or said something that wasn't up to par, we would all say "just give me some time."