Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Everyone is carrying everything on their heads!"

"Yep, Diana, that's what people do here.....its better for your back"

Tuesday afternoon, Diana arrived safely. I wanted to hitchhike out of the airport but a massive rainstorm was coming, I didn't want to get wet and we got a really cheap cab ride (the trick to bargaining in this country is to NOT actually want what you're bargaining for). So within the hour of her flying in, we were safe at Mufasas (the lodge we stayed at) and unloading all the sweet stuff you sent with Diana. WOW. I can't even begin to list everything and thank everyone but its FAR BEYOND anything I expected or deserved. Thank you everyone. Clothes, lotion, grandpa's fudge, cereal, tuna.....amazing. I'm going to eat really well for a while.

Diana and I went to bed early, got up the next morning and headed to the peace corps office....which was soon deserted because Laura Bush is in country and evidentally agreed to meet with the grubby peace corps volunteers. We took advantage of the empty office and got a new back wheel for my brocken bike then headed out. After waiting not too long we got a ride in a giant truck all the way to Blantyre (not normal). It was great, until we got o ut and the driver wanted us to pay. Lame. Oh well. We spent last night in Blantyre, where we'll spend another night tonight getting supplies, watching a movie, getting oilpresses, ect.

Tomorrow, we go to my village where Diana will see how I live for a few days (until early next week) when I get my butt in gear and find something exciting for us to do. Maybe canoe safari? Maybe lake? Who knows what her two weeks left in country will come up with us but judging by her general fascination with this country (and we havn't even left the city yet) it has to be good.

Monday, January 24, 2011

the countdown as come to an end

Diana lands at the Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, Malawi in approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. That means, as soon as I finish with this, I'm going to to start hitching in that direction.

Yesterday I got into Lilongwe via back of a truck. Before I got in, we had this conversation:
me:hi! I'm headed toward Lilongwe but will go as far as you're going north.
them:We're headed to lilongwe too.
me: great!
them: ok, go ahead and get in, will you be comfortable in back?
me: of course, no problem! Anything's better than a minibus.
them: yeah, ok, so how much can you pay?
me: (upon hearing the words 'pay' stopped climbing in) oh. um, I really was hoping to not pay.
them: Only 1000 kwacha
me: I really don't want to pay
them: oh, youre hitch hiking, well just pay half, 500 kwacha.
me: um....its ok, don't worry, I'll just wait for another car, someone will come.
them: wait, are you peace corps?
me:uh, yeah.
them: just get in.
me: thanks!

So I made it. Now, its about time to go to the airport and wait for Diana. Note, I am going 2 hours early so I will be sure to get there in time for her plane to land.

Its sure to be an interesting couple of weeks. People in my village are just as excited for her to come as I am. I'm not sure what her trip as in store for her but we'll find out.

Ok, I'm off to the airport! To get "another american!" in the words of a friend in my village.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ankulu anga abwera lachiwiri!!

"My older sister comes Tuesday!!"

I lot has happened in the last 3 weeks. I returned from vacation. I moved houses. I lost a night watchmen (because of the house move) then hired and fired another. Learned that pasteurizing milk is just cooking it a bit. Cut the forestry extension working in my area (previous colleuge) out of my life due to his bad behavior. I broke my camera. I learned how long milk lasts without refrigeration (less than 24 hours). I was told that I speak Chichewa with a Lomwe accent ( a prominent tribe in the southern region of Malawi where I live).

My new house is amazing. If you scroll down to the last time i uploaded pictures there is a picture of a house. That's where I liven now. Its amazing. I moved last Thursday. The previous week I found a car to hire and we agreed on a day, time, and price. Thursday morning comes (the agreed upon day and time) and no show. Bri (who graciously promised to help me move because she's seen my packing skills first-hand) and I waited outside my house with all of my stuff, through a rainstorm, until 4pm when a friend came over to make sure I moved. He saw that we were, in fact, still waiting, then grabbed a bike and went to another drivers house and returned with a truck. I was moved within the hour. Bri and I spent the next 2 days in my house cleaning and decorating ( a task she was weirdly excited about). Bri's a weirdo, I can say that because she'll never read this. There's not much point to saying that, though, because she's sitting right next to me, and I find myself so funny that I just told her. The conversation went as follows:

Me: (I read what I wrote)
Bri: Oh yeah, that's true. Wait. Why am I a weird-o?
Me: Because you were excited to clean and decorate my new house.
Bri: Yeah, ok.

At my new house, not only do my neighbors and landlord not constantly ask me for money, but they bring me freshly milked milk every morning (which I pasteurize...a process to be a lot simpler than one who was completely unfamiliar with cattle might think....Diana).

I am a frod as a Peace Corps Volunteer. My house has 6 rooms and (thanks to the REI garage salesand my wonderful father and sister and all the WONDERFUL people who send me coffee all the time ...shoutout to the Dutchers!...) I drink freshly ground coffee with fresh milk every morning. There's also a rumor going around that my new house might be wired for electricity. Can you imagine...a fridge? No, a hotplate? No, enough electricity to watch the office on my laptop? Yes. It has to be too good to be true. We'll see. Maybe lightning will strike or something. Anyway, the point is, its wonderful. Chuck (who is still annoying like a puppy) loves it too even though I took her away from her friend, Coal, my neihbors dog.....she'll get over it. We play games with banana leaves.

I used to work with a forestry extension worker. I don't anymore. I found out that he's been doing very corrupt things in my village so I cut all ties with him. He things we're at war and is not spreading rumors about me around my village. Unfortunately for him, he underestimated the level to which I have integrated into my community and people stand up for me and tell me everything he's saying and tell me they know he's lieing. I thank them and refuse to gossip back because I finished middle school when I was 13. He has my pressure cooker. That bugs me more than anything. 15 minutes until fully-cooked beans? Someone is a genius for inventing that. One never appreciates things like fast beans until he or she is forced to cook on fire....or a kerosine stove as it maybe me.

So now, I have shifted who I work with from this certain forestry extension worker, to my chief, the chairwoman of the village development committee, and the chairman of the village committee. I am much more affective now. Long story, short, I'm doing very well.

Today is Friday. Tomorrow I will wash every article of clothing I own using rain water I collected from the monsoon yesterday. Sunday, I have a meeting with my entire village about cementing the hand-dug wells in the village. Monday morning I leave for Lilongwe. TUESDAY, DIANA COMES IN! I am so excited for all those ranch packets she's brining me.....I mean, to see me sister! Just kidding Diana. She took the news very well that we're going to have to hitch-hike out of the airport because there are no buses and cabs are too expensive. Yeah!

My old night watchman didn't come with me to my new house because it was too far from his grocery store and he was tired of working nights. No problem. My cheif found me a new one....William. William worked 2 days then asked to borrow money from me. Came to work everyday smelling like Kachasu (Malawian Moonshine), and didn't do anything to make me feel safe. I fired him. He took that well. I told him he did a bad job. When I told him, however, to leave the flashlight I bought him (because he only worked for 5 days and it was the flashlight of my night watchmen, not his) he freaked out and refused. He told me I had to pay him 5 months pay and then ran (literally, ran) away with the flashlight to tattle on me to the chief (who brought the flashlight back the next morning and apologized on his behave). The chief offered to find me another guard but I told him that I wanted to try without one for a while (which means I can put peanut butter back in my budget). Bri (because she was there when this went down) would like to note that when William ran away with the flashlight under the pretense that he needed it to see in the dark on his way to the chiefs to tattle on me, failed to actually turn it on. He really just waved it around while he LITERALLY ran away.

I'm not sure what else has been happening other than its been raining and I have a lot on my plate work-wise.

Oh, I got paid today. I splurged and bought myself some corn flakes so I can have cereal in the mornings with the milk my landlady brings me....of course with a side of lactaid. Yum. That way, I don't have to cook for myself before I leave to get Diana at the airport. Don't worry Diana, I'll get my pressure-cooker back before you come so we can have beans. That's how much I love you. Mmmmmm. Beans.

What else, its pineapple season! Yeah! I need to plant flowers at my new house.

Christmas cards are starting to come in. I got a bunch of letters today, no packages, but letters. For those of you who sent letters, by the way, and they haven't come here, there's hope. I got a letter today that was send in wasn't even mis-sent to Jamaica. Weird. The letter was from Allison.

I bought a pair of earrings and a tank top today. Its been a productive week. Actually, I've has a couple meetings a day every day (which means I finally learned the shortcut between my new house and the chiefs house...that's been handy.)

People have ceased to send Ukulele tabs.

All is great here. Sorry for being skatter-brained.