Wednesday, March 3, 2010
A week in and here's my first update
Well, here we are! An update after one week in Blantyre. We left the Netherlands Monday evening 22nd, Feb. after a short but very nice visit with our Dutch families – the Templemans and Bomans; thank you Diny, Yan, Henrik and Hannah. The flight was uneventful but rather long. We gave up 2 more hours while flying to Nairobi, Kenya. So far we are 8 hours earlier than our friends and families back in Canada; we do gain one hour when we get to Malawi after a 90 minute lay over in Nairobi, then a short flight and 1 hour layover in Lusaka, Zambia before arriving in Lilongwe, Malawi. Not even noon and in less that 16 hours we’ve walked in four countries – hey, tarmac is land! So we will be 7 hours ahead of our Canadian readers for the next three months or so…
The weather has been very warm and OMG, it sure knows how to rain! It has rained everyday; some days just a little and so far, only one day with 12 hours of BIG rain! It rained so hard on the roof that we were yelling in order to be heard. Everything is green and big and alive. Snails are 6 inches long; magpies the size of ravens, beetles the size of hummingbirds and I’m sure I saw a millipede with 10,000 feet!
Guava, mangos, bananas, avocados, passion fruit, grapefruit and oranges are in season. Yesterday, while visiting Mount Mulanje, we bought plantain, pineapple and bananas at a local market where there are no price tags; one has to barter and negotiate.
Our Malawian hosts, our friends, Anacklet and Mary Phiri (pronounced, peeree) are fabulous. Anacklet is a Dr. of Linguistics and is the Vice Chancellor of the Catholic University (CUNIMA) where I am volunteering to help set up a sign language programme (a discipline) and provide instruction for one semester to 20 students in their fourth year of the Social Services/ Special Needs programme. Mary was a primary school teacher until she began her family of five children. They are all out of the house; Anacklet and Mary are Gogo’s - grandparents to five children. They also are raising a niece’s daughter; both of the child’s (Laureen’s) parents died several years ago. They are a passionate and compassionate duo indeed. There is a housekeeper, Christine, a daytime gardener/maintenance man David, and an overnight security guard who keeps an eye on the Estate along with two dogs and a surrounding fence. Yes the fence is topped with some pretty wicked looking barbed-wire.
Anacklet picked us up in Lilongwe around 1:00pm Tuesday afternoon, showed us a few of the highlights of the Capital city of Malawi then drove us for about 5 hours to his home in Blantyre. We made a few stops along the way, to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, get gas and some pop and to meet with his contractor who is building a small getaway in Lilongwe for the Phiri’s. We arrived a little after 7:00, very tired but we rallied for a wonderful meal and some animated discussions. We received instructions on how to put the mosquito net around the bed, where things were in the kitchen – though making anything for ourselves has proved near impossible as the housekeeper/maid/ laundress is always one step ahead of us – and off to bed. It is like 25C + and on our bed is a sheet, blanket and a duvet! We hardly even need the sheet! Mary learned –from the housekeeper – that we took the blanket and the duvet off the bed and she was worried that we would get too cold! I assured her that even the sheet was a little thick. She laughed and was reassured that everything was OK.