Packed all our stuff yesterday. How did we accumulate so much more than we came with less than one month ago? In the grand move to simplify and to be content with less, we now own a coffee maker, two cell phones, pillows, a back pack that carries two laptops, and a new dress. (Yes, it is finished and we’ll have another attempt to put a picture here for those who’ve been asking.)
Being without wheels ourselves, our hosts’ took us grocery shopping before our move into the new flat. There is a small market area for fresh produce and meat and also a store where we’re told we can buy some staples, within walking distance of the university grounds, but we stocked up on soap of all kinds, vanilla-scented candles, a broom, can opener, beer, water, a chicken … the necessities of life because our new flat is quite far out of town. There are buses which we will of course try, but tiny baby steps are my MO.
Everything is new or rather, different. At the shops, you check in any bags, umbrellas, or bikes, after waiting just a few minutes in line. After shopping, you get run through the till, pay the bill, receive a receipt, gather up your stuff, receipt in hand, and shuffle over to the next line-up where you have your receipt stamped. You must also remember to retrieve any checked-in items. One of the great things about grocery stores is they carry beer, wine, and liquor as well as food, at a very good price. Everyone is aware, of course, that alcohol and bottled water are the only safe drinks, right?
After the shopping we ate – huge meal, thank goodness – loaded the truck with everything: groceries, four adults, one smallish boy in the back of the truck with his hoe to harvest a crop of ground nuts near the university after we were dropped off, a large tub intended to hold water for flushing, a new clay flower pot intended to hold a tomato plant and some herbs (they tell me I’m dreaming), and off we sped* down the highway toward Catholic University In Malawi (CUNIMA) and the new flat.
* sped – figure of speech – the rainy season has wreaked havoc on any roads off the main highway, which are now pot-holed, rutted, heaved, red clay
Five bridges, two rivers, two cities, two villages, one monastery, one convent, a plethora of pedalling peddlers pitching their products, four schools (one for blind, one for the deaf/blind, one for the deaf, and a village school,) and 45 minutes later, we arrived at the university (a former seminary) where our host is the founding Vice-Chancellor at the request of the bishops of Malawi.
We are in! The painting easel is set up in the living room which has two opposing doorways (sunset and sunrise – mountain and garden respectively – OMG!)
The beds are made; a red steel water drum has been delivered by two young men – temporary until the outdoor tank is installed this week. The flat is all newly renovated. Peach and cream ceramic tiles (there is potential to make Sudokus on the 3x3 design), fresh paint, brand new appliances including a clothes washer, blue ceramic tile in the 3 piece / 3 room toilet, shower, sink and laundry room. Our groceries are fitted in the custom built cupboards, clothes hung in the closet, beds made, fridge is filled with our recent purchases, chicken is in the freezer – we are set! And hungry.
We arrived at the flat about 2 PM; the power came on about 9 PM; our candlelit supper consisted of chips and peanuts and beer. We know if the power is on or off by the generator that comes on at the on-site ATM machine (??) during a power outage. Said generator kicked in just after the whining of mosquitoes became insistent enough to warrant turning on the light to search for the DEET – Deep Woods Off works. The mosquito nets are coming this week. (They seem more urgently necessary than running water right now.)
By this morning (Sunday), the generator was still running so we dined on Peanut Butter and bread and juice, took a walk to the store (closed on Sunday), bought bananas and delicious oranges (they are green outside, orange inside) at the market, and returned covered in sweat from our half hour walk. The power came on about 10:30 and went off again about 11:00 AM giving us just enough time to restock our caffeine deficiency and turn on the new stove. Chicken for dinner tonight. When the generator went off at 12:30, meaning the power was ON!! we were ready with the chicken in the roasting pan (brand new) and now it is 2:55 PM and I smell an almost done bird. A triumph.
All this and most of Canada is still abed; it is not yet 9 o’clock there. Enjoy your hot shower, electric razor, microwave, mosquito-less early spring …. It’s all good.
Joint submission on a Sunday afternoon by Claire and Lloyd, while he reads page 812 (over and over), of World Without End, an ‘obsequious-laden’ novel by Ken Follett, set in 14th century England, at the time of the Black Plague (la moria grande). (And looks for the wasp head of recently swatted giant well-fed flying insect and intermittently checks chicken cooking in brand new stove. THE POWER HAS BEEN ON FOR ALMOST THREE CONSECUTIVE HOURS!) Because the chef disagrees with the adage that man can live on Peanut Butter and banana sandwiches, he has recalled the conversion formula of Celsius to Fahrenheit.