The Smoke that Thunders

“It hurts worse to be taken advantage of by someone you love, and by that I mean Emirates Airlines.”  -Bryce Kryser

Our beloved airline is the speculated cause of the less than beloved illness that spread through our group once we landed in Lusaka. A few of us even gained throw up stories of glory–out of a bus, into a sink, not a toilet was spared. It seemed as if the only thing that could protect you was the sheer joy of graduating as our two seniors, Ethan and Daniel, escaped unscathed. Or possibly if you were Ellie and had an Irish connection with a flight attendant (yeah we’re suspicious). This is a less than unique travel experience, and I’d also like to say for the parents reading that only like six of us actually vomited, mostly people just felt off and queasy.

I write this blog sitting in the sun next to our hostel pool. Isaac, Preston, and Bryce are playing freebee in the grass. Sami and Catelyn are talking with their feet in the water. Chloe is napping next to me while Lelia, Avery, Emma, and Megan read their books. I also hear in the distance what’s beginning to become the familiar sound of Father Barraza telling a story. We’ve started to fall into a group rhythm, or using my professional leadership lingo—forming. After some long days of travel, it feel nice to settle for a while. Staying in Livingstone is allowing us to not only dive into our relationships with each other but start our relationship with Zambia and some Zambians.

We started grand and viewed the famous Victoria Falls. Picture after picture was snapped of the thunderous 3 kilometers of free falling water rushing out of the Zambezi River. As we took photos together, it felt obvious how tightly people wanted to hold onto the memories they were making. Many smiley selfies made it out the spray, and I’m sure we’ll look back on them fondly. I hope you enjoy the one I included at the top of my post, for sure a crowd favorite.

As we’re only a couple days into our time in Zambia I find myself having learned some small lessons. Mostly though, we’re looking forward to Zambezi. How will our classes go? Who will be our host family? Will the views from the bush planes be as cool as Ethan has described? While waiting we’re definitely enjoying our time here. The first sights of giraffes, zebras, and hippos has brought an excited smile to all of our faces. Tomorrow we head out to a two day safari, so expect a day off from the blog but some literary heat to come your way soon.

I want to leave you with our first tension that arose from the group today, and that I’m guessing will continue with us. How do we hold both names that exist for the falls we saw today? Look at the seven natural wonders of the world and the Victoria Falls are listed. Ask Father Barraza and he’d tell you their real name is Mosi-oa-Tunya, “The Smoke that Thunders.” This is what a google search won’t tell you. This is what we can easily turn away from and not lean into. This is balancing how we see colonialism having shaped Zambia and how we interact or understand Zambian spaces.

This is a tension we are not able to fully articulate. As we continue our time together I hope we can treat these goals of complete understanding more like the fabled Ithacas they are than the facade of a landing that can exist. As we all know, our journey will be what shapes us the most.

“As you set out for Ithaca                                                                                                                hope your road is a long one,                                                                                                              full of adventure, full of discovery.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.                                                                                            Arriving there is what you’re destined for.                                                                                    But don’t hurry the journey at all.                                                                                                Better if it lasts for years,                                                                                                                     so you’re old by the time you reach the island,                                                                                  wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,                                                                                    not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.                                                                                    Without her you wouldn’t have set out.                                                                                          She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.                                                                  Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,                                                                  you’ll have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.”

-C. P. Cavafy


Rachel Haas, Class of 2021


Also, hi family!!! I love and miss you! I’ll be writing one more time, so wait about 21 more days and you’ll hear from me again. A piece of my heart is with you always.

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5 Responses to The Smoke that Thunders

  1. Barb Haas says:

    Miss Rachel – What an amazing beautiful person you are. We couldn’t be more proud of you. I can’t wait to see what you will teach us next! You go girl!! LOVE YOU

  2. Kelen says:

    Hey Rachel,

    What a lady to start us off – job well done! It’s awesome to hear your voice through these words you wrote. Something I’ve appreciated about you is your calm, practical stature but those subtle hints of humor and sarcasm. Whether you meant it or not, your character and wit is so evident in these words as I bet it is in real life there. Hold onto this. Something I took from our coffee date that one time in Jepson is that you hope that this month is thorough in reflection, but not too much. Know that I am thinking of you as you seek out adventure and curiosity. Channel your eagerness to do more and go out and do it – whether it be with the zags around you, the streets in front of you, or the strangers yelling at you. I’m excited for you to keep on creating your story.

    Hi Daniel, I just wanted to say 1. hello, and 2. from the gals at 1608, of course you’ve got your shirt off. Thinking of you and Ethan as we all process what the heck happened last week, and what’s in front of us now. Enjoy continuing your zag story together for the time alotted 🙂

    Yo Clo, I’m not shocked one bit that you’re napping, I literally laughed out loud when I read that. Random update: today I went to the library and got Call Me By Your Name, so stay tuned for a future obsession like everyone else. I hope your fleece’s keep you warm on that safari, thinking of you always, I love you!

  3. LaShantay Walls says:

    Aww! What a beautiful few moments you have captured. I am so excited to follow along with your journey this summer, Zags. I am sitting here reminiscing on my time in Zambezi in 2014 and I wondered the same things you are thinking about now Rachel. I encourage you to keep the questions going! Your time there may be an absolute whirlwind in the best possible way. I am praying for you all and cannot wait to hear more!

    When I read Kelen’s comment, I laughed so hard. Partly because I read it in Kelen’s voice but also because I too was not surprised to see Daniel with his shirt off. Congratulations on graduating to you and Ethan. What a way to start post-grad life!

    To my girl Chloe, keep the thumbs up coming. You crack me up and I hope you enjoyed your nap. I look forward to hearing your reflections and how the sleep sack is treating you 🙂

    To Josh, Janeen, Father Barazza, and Father Dominic – WHAT A POWERFUL FOUR! You are all some of my favorite people I have met during my time at Gonzaga. I wish you the best in this journey and cannot believe you all get to do this together. I hope I get to hear all of the wonderful stories when you get back 🙂

    Kisu mwane my friends,

  4. Madison Laval says:

    As soon as I read “literary heat” I knew this was none other than THE Rachel Haas. Keep dropping those leadership vocab words. We love to hear it.

    Also, don’t forget my keychain.

  5. Heather kreiser says:

    BRYCE!!! Haha… we can hear you saying this quote. 🙂 We have been praying for the whole team, but especially for you. XO mom

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