Friday, April 9, 2010

Dorothy You're Not In Kansas Anymore

Yes that is what I feel like.  I am in a totally different world then what I am accustomed to.  So let me start by saying I am sorry we have been in 'radio-silence' since we left.  This is our first opportunity to get to a computer and do a post.  Sydney and I landed in Blantyre last Saturday (Apr 3) without any travel problems. Other than I couldn't sleep on any of our flights, things went pretty smooth.  We did however, have only half of our luggage (3 pieces missing).  Yikes not good.  All our clothes and some important items for the orphan care centres.  What would we do and how were we going to find the luggage?  When we landed on the airstrip in Blantyre I looked like it was out in the middle of a maize field, the upstairs open-air seating area of the airport was packed with about 70 children cheering and singing for someone who is obviously loved by them.  It was an amazing sight for our first look at Malawi.

First Impressions:

Africa is everything I thought it would be and more.  I love it! I wonder if I could live here - I don't know but it is appealing.  There are people everywhere walking, making deals and trying to sell you all sorts of things. They sell anything and everything, which means that a lot of the stuff we throw away they will sell in the market.  Quite often you will see women carrying bowls of peanuts, 5 or 10 lb bags of maize (could be quite a few of these bags) or any other items that may need to be transported, on their heads.  We are told that in a lot of cases they are carrying way too much and that it probably causes harm to their backs or spines. We have seen men carrying long poles of pine down from the mountain on their heads, walking barefoot and travelling an incredible distance to sell their wood.

It is very warm here and some days quite hot.  I estimate about 28 on some days out in the villages. I am enjoying the sunshine.  The countryside is very lush as it is near the end of the rainy season - and I'm told it is Malawi's most beautiful time of year.  I can believe it!  I am fascinated with the people and their way of life in Zomba and the surrounding villages.  They have the most interesting signs to advertise their business.  For example 'Toys Saloon.'  Not sure what that is - is it toys or alcohol?  It may be neither actually  - they may have chosen the name because they like it and not because it advertizes anything about their business.

Leftover British Influences & Greetings:

Everything seems very proper here with a hint of a British flavor or tone. Signage especially is where I seem to notice it.  They seem to use words just for the sake of using them and trying to make them sound more important. You can totally get by speaking English here but Chachewa is the native language.  When you greet someone or are greeted it is impolite to say anything negative.   Muli bwanji = How are you?  Then you must say, Dee lee bweeno = I am fine.  Followed by, Ki ya eenu = and you? Zikomo = thank you.  They say thank you very much all the time even when not appropriate.  Takes a couple of days to adapt but you get the hang of it very quickly.  People are very friendly and gracious here.


Our first day Andre took us to the market.  I tried to take pictures but it is difficult sometimes because some Malawians get very upset.  Having said that Andre informs me that we have accumulated over 600 pictures just on his camera already and that doesn't include mine.  The outside market was an adventure.  Everything is out in the open.  Produce, dried fish (mostly very small fish which is where people get most of their protein), grains, tomatoes, strange fruit (can’t remember the name), clothing, car parts,used plastic bottles - you name it you can find it at the market.  Sydney and I are constantly stared at wherever we go.  People of all ages will stop what they are doing and stare at us.  Even though it is 2010 I guess white people are still a rare commodity.


On Sunday we went to Zomba Baptist Church for Easter services.  It was a small, subdued service with four teens leading worship.

I must go now - more another time about our 3 program days at the orphan care centres.

Bye for now.


1 comment:

  1. So glad to hear you guys made it safe and sound! We were all really excited this morning to read your first update and are looking forward to more from your big adventure. Stay safe and wear lots of suncreen!