Well, my shoes are caked in red dirt, I’ve gone through most of the clothes I’ve brought, and I’ve got sunscreen everywhere! That’s right, I am finally writing to you from Malawi! I’ve been in the capital, Lilongwe, for about 3 days now and so far I really like it; Malawi is pretty chill place.
Getting here was a bit of a nightmare involving 5 days of travelling, a 16 hour flight, a night in Ethiopia, and me almost getting on the wrong plane to Nigeria, but I made it nonetheless. I’ve been spending the last few days with APS (African Program Staff) Mike and Owen getting caught up on the workplan for the water and sanitation (watsan from now on) team in Malawi and the Water Monitoring System which I am hopefully going to be kicking off in Thyolo. Speaking of which, I am heading down to Blantyre tomorrow and then on Tuesday morning to Thyolo to start work. I will be staying in the Boma, which is the capital of the district. I’ve got the impression that it’s not a big place, but a beautiful one. I’m going to be staying in a guest house for the first few week, but hopefully will be moving in with a family soon after.
To check in with you guys, I must say that physically, mentally, and emotionally I am pretty content. I still have lots of reading to do so that I can hopefully kick ass on water point monitoring (WPM) and I’m a little bit nervous about starting work, but mostly excited.
Just a couple short stories and observations for you:
– Malawians are really nice! There’s a reason Malawi is the warm heart of Africa.
– Malawi is really short on fuel right now, I realized this 10 minutes after arriving when my taxi broke down on the side of the road.
– Toilet paper comes in different colours, so far I have seen blue and pink!
– Cell phone units are really expensive! I’d love to hear from you (+256 991 764 034)
– The local currency is Kwacha, it’s really inflated. 135K = $1 CAD. It’s quite weird to pay 250K for breakfast and realize you’ve only spent $2.
– I played ultimate Frisbee today with Owen and a bunch of locals, it was awesome! I was exhausted 10 minutes into the first game, but I played all 4 anyways. It was wicked fun and I got a little bit better towards the end (not much though). – Thyolo is basically the banana capital of Malawi, if you know me, then you know I love bananas. I should have brought my banana case with me, haha. Also, mango season is coming up!!! I had one yesterday, it wasn’t quite ripe yet though so I didn’t get the full mango goodness.
– I experienced my first Malawi power outage my first night here. The power just goes off every now and then.
– Summer is just beginning here, so it is going to get HOT. The temperature now is perfect for me, but it’s going to get much hotter. Luckily Thyolo is a little cooler because it’s in the hills.
– I had a grand old chat with this nice Malawian man when I was having supper tonight and found out that his brother was a priest in St. John’s for 11 years! First Malawian I met who has heard of Newfoundland. He quite enjoyed my stories about snow and called his brother up while I was talking to him so he could tell him he’d met a Newfie. Quite funny!
Anyways, I’m excited for Blantyre tomorrow and even more excited for Thyolo. I’ll keep you posted on my first minibus experience (actually I kind of had one in Ethiopia, lots of people crammed into one tiny bus, suitcases thrown on the roof and everything) and I’ll give you more info on my work placement once I get started.