Ups and Downs

I feel like it’s been a while since I last blogged, but my last few weeks have definitely been eventful! Things are starting to get pretty busy at work, I’ve set up weekly training sessions with 7 people in the district for the water monitoring system and hopefully we should be collecting some data on water points in the district very soon.

I spent the weekend at a music festival called Lake of Stars. As the name suggests it took place on Lake Malawi, in Mangochi, which is about a 5-6 hour minibus ride from Thyolo. It was my first time seeing the Lake and it definitely lived up to my expectations. Lake Malawi is huge! I’ve heard that it takes up approximately 20% of the country; it is very beautiful! There is white sand and palm trees everywhere, the water is the perfect temperature for swimming, but is it ever hot! I thought it was hot in Thyolo but it is much hotter in Mangochi!

The Festival was nothing like anything else I have experienced in Malawi. I met up with the rest of the EWB team at the Lake and we built a shelter out of chitenge’s and bamboo and slept on the beach all weekend. The festival was a very different experience because half of the people there were white and the other half consisted of decently wealthy Malawians. It was different, but it was a great experience; I got to see and hear lots of Malawian and African music! It was a nice break from being the only white person in my village.

I think I finally hit the bottom of the culture shock curve when I came home though. The last few days have been pretty physically and emotionally draining. I had a bit of a Malaria scare my first day back after the festival. I woke up feeling pretty sick, luckily though I got a blood test done at the hospital and I am still malaria free! I spent two days lying in bed though feeling pretty rotten. I also got quite frustrated with some cultural aspects as me and my family disagreed quite a lot on what was the appropriate way for me to get healthy. I don’t want to get into in on my blog, but email me up if you’re interested in discussing Malawian culture; things I enjoy and things that frustrate me. I am feeling better now and I am trying to jump back into everything that is going on at work.

I cannot quite believe that this weekend marks the halfway point of my placement. It seems to be flying by! The rainy season is also getting ready to start really soon. Apparently while I was in Mangochi it rained twice in Thyolo and it has already rained twice since I’ve been back. When in rains in Malawi, It pours! In St. John’s we just get disgusting rainy drizzle for days on end, in Malawi when it rains it just starts really quickly, pours for about 20 minutes, and then stops altogether. This will probably change a little bit though once the rainy season truly starts. It is still a bit early for rain and the season won’t really start in Thyolo until mid November. When it rains in my house though it’s all you can hear! We have a tin roof and so the rain just pounds on the roof drowning out all other thoughts.

Anyways, like I said before, it was a bit of a rough week so I’d love to hear from people at home! My phone number here is +265 991 764 034, it’s decently cheap if you want to call me from skype. Apparently Walmart has some decently cheap calling cards as well. Erica managed to get one for $20 that has 113 minutes on it. So yeah, I’d love to hear from you guys! I have also been enjoying the questions, for those of you that posted questions, I have been going back and responding to them slowly in the comments, so check it out. Also, if there’s anything you’re interested in hearing about in my blog let me know, I’m thinking about maybe writing a blog about my family or my experiences with poverty here, but I’d like to know what you guys are interested in reading about as well.

Much love,



5 thoughts on “Ups and Downs

  1. Hey Maria! Hope you’re feeling a bit better! Don’t forget, even on crappier days, that you’re still awesome. 🙂 Really cool to hear another blog post. All the best from here!

  2. The scenery is very beautiful as is the picture of you in the Malawian dress. Glad the concert and lake were great adventures for you. Despite the health challenges I still hear the excitement in your voice. There are 54 days, 19 hours and 59 minutes until you return actually but I’m not at all anxious!

    Missing you

  3. Great to hear from you.

    I was wondering about the economy in Malawi. Gien your support for Fair Trade I wonder if this applies in Malawi. You had mentiined that there were lots of tea plantations. I assume that most workers are paid a wage or a variable rate based on production. If they are paid a wage is there a fair or minimum wage? Are most plantations owned by whites? Is this a result of the British colonization of Malawi? How do you fix this, given the efforts put forth by the owners in making these plantations successful for many years. What is governments role and what is the role of free trade?

    Tace care and looking forward to talking soon?

    Love Dad

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