More Short Stories

Everyone seemed to like my short stories entry, so here I go with Short Stories Part 2:

Zambia

After spending 90 days in Malawi on a visitors visa you are required to leave the country and then re-enter it. So this past weekend me and my fellow JF Don headed up to Zambia to take in a safari! I was a bit of a rebel when we were crossing the border; I forgot my yellow fever card so I had to sneak Don’s and use that instead, luckily they didn’t look at the name! I kind of wanted to argue with the guards though because Malawi is not a yellow fever country and so I shouldn’t have needed it; Trevor told the JF’s not to do this though and I was a good JF and listened. Anyways, Malawi is known as “the warm heart of Africa” and apparently Zambia is known as “the real Africa” because of it’s unspoiled wildlife. I found this easy to understand driving through the Eastern part of Zambia because there is a lot more open space in Zambia as there’s a lot less people living there (about the same population as Malawi).

We stayed in South Luangwa Park in a chalet that was located right on the Luangwa River. The river is absolutely beautiful but it was really low because it’s the end of the dry season; we saw some crocodiles swimming down there though! In the park we saw giraffes, elephants, zebras, buffalo, monkeys, baboons, impala, hippos, and all sorts of other animals; we even got to see a pack of lions! We saw them once lying around in the shade and then later in the night we were about 6 feet away from them when they were hunting! It was a little scary, but pretty cool! I’m going to try and post some pictures on facebook soon.

Culture Exchange

So my sisters have been teaching me some of the stuff they do for fun. They taught me this skipping game a little while ago that involves two ropes that are tied to two trees; you have to hop back and forth between the rope from one foot to the other, it’s kind of hard to explain so I’ll try and get a video! They also play regular skipping games and they have all their own chichewa rhymes for them! The girls also taught me this card game they love to play that’s a lot like crazy eights. Instead of 8 cards you get 4 and the ace is the card that has the power to change suit. In this version the 8 reverses the direction of play and jokers are pick up 4.

In turn I’ve made a couple of “Canadian” meals for my family. It was challenging to find something I felt comfortable cooking over a fire though! First I made them french toast with maple syrup that I brought from home. Watching them eat the maple syrup was pretty funny; my family thought it was honey and they spread it really carefully over their toast with a knife as if it was butter! They found it really sweet. The second time I made them spaghetti; it had an interesting spaghetti sauce because I basically chopped up and threw in every vegetable I could find at the market. The girls loved it though!

On a side note, I finally learned how to spell my sisters names: Tacondwa is the oldest at 13; Pemphero is in the middle and is 9, and Nicky is the youngest at 6.

Frustrations Abound

I had a short period where I was getting pretty frustrated with work and the way things happen around here. Everyone is really excited about collecting data on water points and I’ve made a lot of progress with training in the office, however not a lot of progress was being made on actually collecting data. Collecting the data involves getting the health office, water office, and planning office to coordinate. They’ve all admitted that coordinating between sectors is a weakness and that they need to meet and talk about it; however because they’re so poor at coordinating it is really hard to get them all in the same room. So things have been moving very slowly as it’s hard to track people down and even when you schedule meetings, people often don’t show up or show up late.

The second thing that was frustrating was trying to get the data collection forms photocopied. It’s really cool because the Water Office is running Water Point Monitoring without an external donor, which is quite unique for them to pilot a program like this on their own. It’s quite frustrating though because the Water Office’s budget for each month is very small. A lot of the budget goes toward fuel which is very expensive here ($1.86 CAD per litre). So when we were trying to get the forms photocopied at the end of the month it turned out there was no money left to pay for them until the following month. Basically the water office was held up for over a week because they didn’t have $27 CAD to pay for photocopying. It’s incredibly frustrating to not have a functional system because of such a small sum of money. The good news is we now have the forms, the bad news is my meeting was cancelled again today when Health never showed up.

Keep an eye out

It was a rough day at the Limbe bus depot last week. I was coming back from Blantyre on a minibus and I had to stop at the Limbe bus depot to get a bus back to Thyolo. As you’ve probably gathered from my previous entries, bus depots are crazy! So as I was trying to get off the bus a lot of people were crowding me trying to get on the bus. There was one guy in particular who was standing right in front of me and would not move out of my way, next thing I know I feel my pocket go really light and I see this guy stalking off through the crowd. That’s right, I got pickpocketed!

It took me a minute to realize that this guy had stolen my phone, when I did I started calling after him but I couldn’t follow him because there were so many people crowding me. One guy who works on a minibus asked me what was wrong and I pointed at the guy walking off with my phone and told him that he had stolen it. The bus worker looked at the guy, sized him up, sighed tiredly, and said, “okay, I will go get it back”. So he disappeared off while I checked the minibus I was on to make sure I hadn’t just dropped it (I wasn’t 100% sure it had been stolen). Anyways, a few minutes later the bus guy came back with my phone! I was amazed that I had gotten it back so I thanked him profusely and went to find my next bus. The reason I say it was a rough day at the bus depot though is because about 3 minutes later I saw two other guys get in a fist fight next to my bus that almost involved one guy breaking a beer bottle over the other guy’s head! Thankfully a bunch of people pulled them apart though. (I swear Malawi is a safe place though Mom!)

Anyways, keep the questions and emails coming!
Love you guys,
Maria

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Categories: Volunteering in Malawi | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “More Short Stories

  1. Dad

    Great Stories. See you in a month!

    Dad

  2. Oh man. Payt couldn’t find his yellow card as we were getting in either. We made the argument that he didn’t need it, and luckily the person just let us through. Turned out it was just in the pocket of his shorts.

    And cards. I’ve taught most of the chapter how to play cards, because that really is all it’s called. It’s fun teaching people the same way I learned, without any explanation. Trying to decipher what each card does… Try teaching them any other card game. I never got around to it, but I bet it would be tricky.

  3. Keith

    Haha! So funny about cards. We played the same thing! We called the suits black, red, flower, and corner haha.

    Super neat to hear about all this! Great memories. We stayed in south luangwa too. Gorgeous.

    How are you at the skipping game? It looked impossible haha and maybe like a knee injury waiting to happen lol.

    Can’t wait for conference! See you then? (I hope!)

  4. Haha, cards, we call the suits diamond, flower, reddy, and black (or black heart). I laughed out loud at corner, haha.
    Can’t wait to see you guys at Conference!!!!

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