January 2, 2010
These are some random observations of Lilongwe so far.
It is not as complicated to get around as I had hoped. If you stand along the side of a road a minibus will stop and pick you up. There are only a few designated bus stops. The rest is at the convenience of the commuter. There are bus routes and they are actually quite simple and affordable. Not quite as convenient as the TTC (in Toronto) but not as inconvenient as in the rural areas.
The rain comes suddenly and often. One must carry an umbrella at all times. A bright sunny sky doesn’t mean a dry day. At night when the rains fall they can be very hard and can last a long time. The other night it rained solidly for 6hours. But just now it poured for only about 10 minutes. I’ve been told mosquitoes stay away when it is raining but my legs, covered in bites are not evidence of that.
It is hot. I am sweating constantly. Our house has a tin roof with no ceiling. We bake in here during the day and it doesn’t cool down at night. We have one fan and it spontaneously stops or refuses to start regularly.
Wednesday December 30, 2009
I was greeted at the airport by two representatives from the school. Kalirani, his son Christopher and Almakio were also there. They were very friendly if not a bit reserved, as is typical of most Malawians.
My house is in a good area with many very nice houses with manicured lawns and fences. My house has no manicured lawn but does have two raised plots in which we could plant flowers or vegetables. The house itself is very big. The floors are polished cement and the walls are cement painted pale yellow. There are three bedrooms; two together at the side of the house along with a 3 piece bath and the third is in the main part of the house. This house has two “servants quarters” and 4 toilets. Two of these are inside the house, one is at the back near the servant’s quarter and the other at the fron near the other servants quart. One toilet inside is in a room with a shower. This is a long narrow room with a shower attached to the wall and a toilet at the very end. There is no stall. In this room there is also no hot water. The bathroom with the tub has hot water but no shower. I guess I’ll see what’s most comfortable. I’m a bit of a cold water whimp but it is very hot here.
I changed money on the black market. I got a better deal than the bureaus which were closed by the time I got to town. I’ll always use this guy. He gave me his card on which he has written his name and AKC Investments. What an entrepreneur.
The fridge was not working. Almakio played witht he power cord for a while and it now works. He doesn’t know what he did. The fridge is very small but at least we have one and it has a small freezer.
Early this afternoon we were heading to town when two people from the power company came to turn off our electricity. There is an outstanding bill of almost $100. Since I have yet to buy a SIM card for my phone we had to “flash” the people from the school. They contacted the landlord who has promised to pay the bill tomorrow.
Flashing is what Malawians do when they have no units in their phones. They will call the person they wish to speak to and let it ring only once so the number is displayed. The person is then expected to return the call. I find it rude and I was embarrassed to do it but we had no option.
So, I’m settling in well. We found a small local market and bought some fruits and vegetables. I got mangoes but they are very hard. I’ll eat one tomorrow.
I’ll write about school tomorrow. I visited it today and it is very nice.
I’m writing from London Heathrow. I’ve been here for about three hours. I had a coffee and charged my iPod. I walked around a bit. It’s boring.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how people are overall good. This Christmas people were very generous to the orphans and I really appreciate it. Most of my family has shown me great support and encouragement on this journey. The parents of my students were very supportive of my decision to go to Malawi. I am very lucky to have that support and the resources to take this journey.
At first I was very nervous, scared and sad about leaving home, friends, work. Now I am just curious about what will happen. I look forward to a lot of adventure, some growth and a lot of learning.
I spoke with Azikiwe last week. He told me that Johnny passed his standard 8 exam and has been accepted to the local secondary school. Unfortunately Annie did not pass her exam and as such can not attend secondary school this term. I plan to speak to Annie and her family to determine what happened to make her fail. If she doesn’t continue in school she will have to leave Itatu. Johnny can no longer attend either as his school hours will not permit him the time to come to the day care for meals. He does have a sister and I will suggest we take her in his place. The family will still get some relief in this way.
Please keep the responses coming. I love them.