Saturday, December 31, 2011


For Christmas, me and six of my closest friends here in Malawi went to the beautiful islands in the northern lakeshore. We all met in Mzuzu, then traveled together to Nhata Bay. After taking, what seemed like a lifetime-long, trip on the Ilala (which I did not get to drive this time) we arrived at Likoma island. There we spent the next few days relaxing on the beach, swimming, and enjoying ourselves, when we weren't fighting off whip scorpians.... Gross. Lets just say that we were all really careful about tucking in our nets, even me.

After three wonderful days on Likoma Island, we arranged for a sail boat to take us to Chizumulu island. The boat left at 3am and got us there just before 5am, which meant we got to watch the sunrise over Likoma Island as we slowly sailed away. It was incredible. After arriving and walking across the island (barefoot because my flip flops finally died and it was too hot for close-toed shoes) we made it to the Wakwenda retreat lodge. It was a beautiful lodge on he beach with lots of large rocks to jump off and the most beautiful bar I've ever seen in my life(probably should have taken a picture of it).
Four days on Chiradzulu with delicous food and good friends and we were on our way back to civilization. We opted not to take the Ilala on the way back (because its miserable and expensive and slow and terrible in every way) and ended up taking a boat called "Malungo" (which translates to "Malaria") . We were nervice about taking the slightly sketchy cheaper boat but it ended up being fine. Not only did we pay less, but there was air flow, and we got to watch local music videos at volumes that will blow your ear drums wide open. I don't think anyone I was with enjoyed it, but I had a great time...especially when the people who run the boat found out the seven of us are American's and insisted on playing the song "Barack Obama" over and over again (my local favorite, because of its rediculousness. Its played in buses and bars and everywhere that plays music here all the time. You can enjoy it here (it is not a waste of your time, you won't regret it, regardless of how you feel about him)

We made it to Nkhata Bay safely, and what seemed like quickly after we realized that the entire purpose of the top of the boat was for dance parties.... We stayed in Nkhata Bay only long enough to get transport into Mzuzu. Transport problems, as usual. We arrived in Mzuzu tired, hungry, crabby. Sleep. The next morning, we all had delicious Chipati's and eggs for breakfast then headed our separate ways. Five of us headed to Lilongwe, two went down the lake shore road to Nkhota Nkhota. Getting back was the first time I have ever had an easy time with transport in the Northern Region, thanks to a very friendly bishop who took three of us.
That was my last trip to the North. Goodbye Northern Region.
Since I've been back I've been in Lilongwe working hard on Grad school applications (deadlines are closing in). I'm feeling pretty good about things. I opted to skip out on a party in the north and the south and the central, so I could stay and work to make my applications as strong as possible.

It looks like I am here in Lilongwe until my close of service conference on the 9th of January when I'll go to Senga Bay...then again, I might try to escape Lilongwe for a bit, depending on how efficiently I work. That's a long time in the city. We'll see what happens.
HAPPY NEW YEARS EVERYONE!! To all of my friends and family, I love you and miss you and, though I'm enjoying myself here in Malawi, I'm excited that this is my last Holiday Season away from home. I look forward to celebrating with you next year...regardless of where I'll be (which is still a mystery).

Here's how my Christmas was, how was yours?

Waiting on Christmas Eve where there was network (the cell tower was on the island in the distance, Likoma Island)

Hanging out...enjoying island life.

Everyone waiting for lunch to come.

This is what I stared at for a week, how's the weather in America?

Working in Lilongwe at the Peace Corps office (disregard the fact that facebook is displayed, I actually have been working). Note: these photos are out of order.

Mom, Dad, and Diana, this is what I was looking at when we were talking on the phone on Christmas Eve. Standing at the top of the hill on Chizumulu Island, taking phone reception from Likoma Island (in the distance).

Sol waiting for his parent's to call him.

Colin and Bri waiting for calls from home.

Playing bananagrams.

Bri really likes rice and beans.

Christmas eve lunch...only at the fanciest restaurant.

My hair has officially turned blonde. Waiting for our christmas beans and rice to come.

Katy likes dogs.

Bri and Sol.

I wear my sunglasses at night, so I can, so...I....cann

I tried to keep the sunset pictures to a minimum, but come on, its incredible..

Friday, December 16, 2011


Yes, yes its been a while since I updated last. A few weeks ago I updated, a long update too, with pictures and humor an everything that is nice and sweet in the world. It didn't work. Right before published, the black cloud of ESCOM (Electric company in malawi) kicked me with a blackout. Lost. Anyway, you're not here to listen to my sob story. You're here for the pictures, maybe, or you just want to know what I've been up to. The answer: a lot.
Lets go way back to October.
The last week of October, I headed north. I got on a bus in Blantyre at 1:30pm. The bus broke down 3 times, the last time resulting in a bus change. Due to my position on the bus (the back) I lost my seat after the swap and then had to stand for the next 6 hours. I normally would complain about the standing (ok, maybe I did a bit at the time), but if I wasn't standing I would have been sleeping and if I had been asleep I would have missed getting to watch the sunrise over Nkhata Bay, which was one of the most beautiful scenes I have yet to see in Malawi thus far.
Life here is all about small victories. Its the only way we survive with (most of) our sanity.
I got off the bus at 6am in Mzuzu where I immediately got on a minibus (because the direct big bus filled up and left while I was peeing out sixteen and a half hours of pee. I took a mini bus to Karonga where I got on top of a Matola (a giant Lollie) which also broke down 4 times which made the 3 hour trip last almost 7. I pulled into Chitipa (the farthest north district in Malawi on the borders of Zambia and Tanzania). I stayed there for under 24 hours for a Halloween party then headed back south. I haven't decided if it was worth it or not. As future Amy. On the way back south I was traveling with friends and we skipped down over 3 days, stopping at my friend Sol's site on the way to Lilongwe for the Peace Corps/USAID 50th Anniversary party.
Hitching down to Lilongwe was interesting. There was a mass exodus of Peace Corps Volunteers as everyone was headed into the capitol for the celebration. The party was fine. Important speakers, muckity mucks, good food, open bar, good friends, what's not to like?
After spending a couple days in Lilongwe for the festivities, me and some other volunteers headed down to Liwonde National Park for the second half of the game count (transect walks) for our last battle with Jurassic Park. The transect walks went smoothly, with the exception of the fact that we didn't realize until we walked the width of the park in a straight line that you can't build a road on a river (and Malawi's not good with bridges) so we had to walk all the way back to where we started for transport back to camp. We didn't ration water adequately for both ways. It was a long, hot day.
On the last day in the park, we had to leave earlier than we planned to leave because the rains started and once they fall, the roads are impassable. The park wanted us to stay. We wanted to leave. There was pushing and pulling and mud everywhere and eventually a tractor. 4 hours later, we were free. A few hours after that we were back in civilizationish.
After freeing myself from the bonds of Liwonde national park for the final time in my service I went back to site. I was in Chiradzulu for about a week doing different things, working with youth clubs, writing proposals, planning for world aids day, then I was back up in Lilongwe for the GRE. I have little to say about the GRE except that we got to keep our calculators. That was neat.
After th GRE I was back at site for a bit. World Aids Day came and went. We through a celebration in one of the villages in my district. It was great.

Thanksgiving. Bri and Jeremy and I were in Blantyre hanging out. We watched a movie, Columbiana in the movie theater.

Bri and I climbed Mt. Mulanje with he wildlife club at the primary school in her village. Us and 35kids, the headmaster, and one teacher. That was tiring. When we got to the top, the kids went and collected a bunch of plastic and made a soccer ball so they could play because they weren't tired. I will never have children. Is that normal? Mountains not being tiring? I'm confused.

The next week I went to help do work for an under nutrition study. I was mostly translating and entertaining women (like the chichewa talking monkey I am), it was fun. We got to stay at an Italian Mission so I had delicious food, showers, electricity, it was fantastic.
I got back from helping there 2 days ago and then left early this morning for Lilongwe because my vacation starts tomorrow! I'm going to an island. I'll take pictures.
In the mean time my time has been going quickly writing grad school applications, getting together recommenders, ect. I'm surprised to realize that I only have 4 months left in Malawi. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. What can I say, you're all up to speed. Enjoy the pictures.

This is the view from the top of the hill, just feet down the road is where I work. Way in the distance off to the right behind the hill a faded bump. That's Mt. Mulanje. At least my site is still pretty.

This is how you know its 10:30.

The MSF (doctors without borders) people playing a game on world Aids Day.

Mt. Mulanje.

Mt. Mulanje

Chambe peak on Mulanje.

Wildlife club on top of Mulanje

This is the cabin we all stayed in.

Carlesburg brewery tour (That's what I did for Thanksgiving).

My neighbor, Hendrina, who breaks into my house and mops, frequently. This is where my water comes from.

Transect walks inside Jurassic Park.

Transect walk...before we knew we had to go back to the beginning.

Jeremy making coals out of ebony so we can cook our chicken on endangered woods.

A PCV gutting the chicken.

Bri cuddling a chameleon on the lakeside. Classic Bri.

Chitipa Halloween. We went as Wayne and Garth.

I forget what kind of animal this is.

These too, its really bugging me. Can someone remind me?

This is a tent. This is where we slept inside the national park during the game count. Those tents in the background had to move because the elephants kept wanting to chat.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I had a very long post all typed up (completely with more pictures, yes pictures) but the world lost it and I have to start over, but not today. In the mean time, the above link is to a project by my old-sitemate Bri. She's building a library for the primary school in her village. I promised her I'd help advertise as funding is coming in slowly for her. No obligation necessary, but any help would be appreciated by many. I'll update when I can.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Wonderful OLDER Sister!!!!!

No translation necessary.

Not a whole lot has happened since my last post but I'm here with access to internet so I might as well post, right? In the words of my Genius cousin, Jenni, "you know if you post more often you won't have to write as many words." Thanks Jenni <3.

So last week went by like any other week where I'm just going to work and not traveling a lot (which is actually kind of rare for me these days). The only exception was the weekend. Over the weekend I went to Mulhako Wa Alhomwe, which is a massive festival (it is estimated that about 40,000 people attended) in Mulanje celebrating the Lomwe people, a tribe located mostly in the Southern region of Malawi as well as in parts of Mozambique. There was traditional dancing, song, food, dress, ect. Seeing as how many cultural practices particular to different tribes in Malawi are being lost and forgotten (even the language of the Lomwe people, Chilomwe, is unknown by most people my age and younger, its only the older generation and the traditional authorities who know it), it was very interesting to get to see, first hand, the reincarnation of tribal and traditional pride, especially in a place when those things are lost or undermined by Westernization.

The festival was Sunday, since then I've been working all this week, until today. Today I head toward where I will be for Halloween...but more on that after it happens.

It is hot here. It was 90F inside my bedroom last night at 11:00pm. Hot. I bought the thick candles so they wouldn't melt and bend over like they did last year. Hot. I don't mind it though like i did last year, I found a fridge I can use while I'm at work so I can drink cold water. The only part of hot season that REALLY bothers me is that vegetables don't last. They wilt and then rot within one I never thought these words would leave my mouth (or my fingers, as it were) but there's only so many peanut butter sandwiches a girl can eat. Also, thing about the humidity, I'm drinking at least three Liters of water per day and still only peeing once...I guess I'll try to push for more (but not too many seeing as how I'm going to be on a bus for the next 12 hours).

They're not actually working, they're looking at pictures...but look how professional they look. My officemate and another co-worker.

A friend of mine in the office, Yami, the assistant forestry officer.

Yami was playing with my camera. This is me sitting in at my desk being the most productive human to ever live.

The ride back from the Lomwe festival of course everyone in the car wanted their picture taken. Everyone here always wants their picture taken.

President His Excellency Bingu Wa Muthalika.

Some Mozambiquan guy wanted to show off his knitted bottle at the festival, he didn't do that great of a job. "Pobregado! (Portuguese for Thank you)."

I didn't think I had enough pictures to be enough for this post so I just took this of myself.

Aaaand, this is where I'm sitting at the moment, in the blue chair.

I'll post again after I get to Lilongwe for Peace Corps and USAID's 50th Anniversary celebration. Sorry this wasn't very exciting, but at least now you have a glimpse into my every day life instead of just the exciting stuff.