Random Malawian Things

Wednesday night, Patricia and I enjoyed a very nice evening in the company of Ben and Annie from New Brunswick. They showed us photos of their experience working in a village on the outskirts of Lilongwe where they are volunteering with a school. The village is about a one hour walk from the Lodge. They take the mini bus there, leaving by 7:30 in the morning. After school finishes in the early afternoon, they walk back to the Lodge giving them time to reflect on the day.

The pictures of the children are wonderful. Ben has introduced them to ‘frisbee’ which has been quite a hit. They also shared photos of their trip to Lake Malawi (near Mzuzu) last weekend. It looks beautiful.

It was particularly good to have their company last night because we were subject to one of the periodic power outages. Randomly, the power will go out. Sometimes for just a couple of minutes, other times 15 or 20 minutes…and other times several hours. Last night it was out for about 2 hours. This is no small consideration when you consider that it is pitch black by shortly after 6:00 p.m…..just a bit too early to head to bed….and it sure can run through the batteries if you try and read by flashlight!

Power outages are just one of the little random Malawian things. The water also goes off – without notice – for periods of time. When we return from the hot afternoon at the Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary on Sunday, for example, the water was out and did not come back on until the early hours of the morning ….at least not before bedtime. This was not ideal as both Patricia and I were in need of a good shower after having walked around outside most of the day.

Which leads to the next little random Malawian thing….actually, more of a Lilongwe thing. It is blessed with rich, red coloured soil. It almost puts you in mind of PEI with its red hue. However, it’s currently quite dry. We were told it hasn’t really rained since April. So, Lilongwe is currently blessed with red coloured dust. It’s everywhere….! Whether you are wearing shoes or sandals….its all over your feet. At the end of a day of walking, it’s like a film all over you. People with cars (i.e., rich people) are constantly having their vehicles washed to get the dust off.

There are other little random Malawian things….like

- men wearing short-sleeved business suits

- men wearing short ties

- ladies with piles of things on their heads, a baby tied with a wrap to her back and her arms full of other items

- bill boards calling for men to have vasectomies or for people to get tested for HIV

- bill boards calling for national action to protect food self-sufficiency

- little stands EVERYWHERE selling pre-paid cards for cell phones (Zain and TNM are the big companies in Malawi)

- people selling pan roasted peanuts ….usually standing right beside the stands selling pre-paid cell phone cards!

- people wandering with flat baskets filled with bananas for sale

- hot milk…for ‘food safety’ more than anything else. (No one is seen drinking milk as a beverage, just a bit with cereal or coffee. It’s very expensive.)

-….and the minibus.  Here’s a couple of mini bus photos (per my neice’s request!).  One is of the “Shoprite” waiting area where I get dropped off in the morning and pick up a bus on my way home from work.  It was taken at noon on a Friday….when it wasn’t yet too busy.  The other is a photo from inside a mini bus.

Mini buses waiting for passengers near Shopite in Old Town Lilongwe

Minibus to Old Town

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