Monday, January 30, 2012

Chaka Chino

“This Year”

2012, the year the world ends (just kidding…yes, we get that here too).

This year, though new, has already proven to be an interesting start to the year I leave Malawi. After New Year celebrations had died down and I had been in Lilongwe for about 8 days, I got sick. Malaria. I got better, after a bit. A friend of mine told me that I have now been “baptized by mosquitoes. Welcome to Malawi!” how chummy. Here’s what happened:
I was sitting on the computer working on my grad school applications (completed and submitted, now) when I started to feel…funny, is the best way I can describe it. Within the hour I was feverishly shivering on the couch. Since I was in the PC office, I went into the medical office for them to take my temperature. They said I had no fever and to go sleep and take lots of fluids. I went back to the lodge I was staying at and slept for hours under all the blankets I could manage to scrounge up. The next day I felt bad but mobile. The day after that, the same thing happened but more severe. Shivering, sweats, spinning, incapacitated. This time, however, I had a fever. They put me in the bed in the back room so I could lie down underneath blankets (something about them not wanting me moaning and shivering on the couch in the front room, strange).
Evelyn (our wonderful nurse whom we love): *petting my face* “Oh you feel bad, I know. I’ve never seen Amy sick before!”
They took a blood test, ++ Malaria. The best we can figure is that I must have missed a dose of my doxycycline while traveling all night from the islands (which works out given Malaria has about an 8 day incubation period). Anyway, they gave me Cordium, or “La” for medication. The first night was bad but after that I started to feel better every day. Now, I feel great (so don’t worry, Grandma).
So they had me shut up in the back room of the medical office trying to sleep while my grad school deadlines were ticking away. Sleeping when you have stuff to do doesn’t work, no matter how sick you are.
There’s a loud Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz sound that goes off when that door opens. I was trying to make my way to productivity when I had been caught. All I saw was Evelyn running at me yelling, “My patient!!!” After I spent the next 5 minutes explaining about the applications and deadlines and how I promise not to die and if I get worse I’ll come back, I promise but for now I have to get work done. She was concerned but finally let me go after making me take aspirin, a bottle of water, and a blanket. Back to work.

Nobody told me that the first night after you start the medication is the worst part because I was “lost” in the next building, working. As it turns out, as the parasite is leaving your body, it releases toxins, causing the patient to want to puke her brains out. Fortunately, my good friends Tom and Colin were with me. They made me soup. I slept eventually. That was the worst of it. I just took things slowly for the next week.
Since then, I finished my applications.
Next up Close of Service Conference! 21 people in, 15 out. We learned all sorts of handy things, like exactly how to end our service (in paperwork), how to say goodbye to people in our communities, what to expect upon our return home, ect, ect.
76 Days and one wake-up left before I leave Malawi (a bit shout out to Bri’s dad for this new counting method).
So here I am living it up in the Chiradzulu, living the village life, for two more months. Then I’m gone, like a bat in the night, back the land of plenty, to forget this funny language I’ve managed to learn. I have told my co-workers when I’m leaving and that, no, I will not be extending my contract, no matter what you tell me.
“But Amy, think of all the good you could do with women’s development and empowerment in the village with your Chichewa!” (not my primary project making this suggestion somewhat random).
“I’ve already been here two years that’s commitment enough for now, besides, I’m tired of living without a fridge. Maybe I’ll come back someday if I can manage to find a job that will provide that…and after I see my family.”
In other news, my neighbor is pregnant. I thought she was gaining weight. After I confronted her I found out that not only is she expecting, but she’s 6 months pregnant! The baby is due in March, she wants me to name it. The second I found out she was pregnant, I gave her my vitamins and my extra mosquito net. Now I have to think of a name. She said she wanted to get pregnant before I leave so I can name the baby and she can remember me forever….how’s that for attachment. I told her that was sweet but stupid and she’s too young for babies. Evidentially, she ignored that advice. It also turns out that at the time I told her that, she was already pregnant. Life is funny like that, but, she’s happy, so I’m happy for her. She’s twenty-one.

Now, I’m sitting in my office while two men are talking about relationship issues. Cultural exchange is interesting. I’ll say no more on the subject except this, the man seeking advice from the other man just informed me (at my inappropriately bringing up the batman which seems to happen to me a lot) that batman is the anti-Christ. I don’t think I will associate with him anymore. Batman! Can you imagine? The things you hear here, they never fail to surprise.
So I’m here, finding things to entertain myself (mostly Kurt Vonnegut books) until it is time to say goodbye and make my way out of Malawi for the first time since 2010. Eventually, I’ll go back to my old village and say goodbye to all the people there. Judging by how hard it was for them to say goodbye to my parents and Diana after just a few days, I don’t see it being easy. I love them, and they love me. They keep calling me asking when I’m coming. I’ll go, I’ll go. I want to go every week; I’m just trying to keep my distance for the sake of the volunteer who is there working now.
So that’s pretty much what’s been going on here. If you’ll excuse me, I need a break to go and buy bananas. We’ve been paid, you see, so I can, yet again, afford banana’s (or I will at least after I go to the bank tomorrow, I was just lucky enough to find some loose change in my wallet). No bananas, only mangos. Mango mango mango. There are only so many mangos a girl can consume in a period of time, and this year’s mango season’s mango tolerance is less than that of last year. I still like them, but a banana is nice. Did you know that time flies like an arrow? Also fruit flies like a banana. Also, Amy likes a banana. I wonder if bananas are as delicious in the land of plenty as they are here? I doubt it. I should eat nothing but bananas for the next coming days so that I’m sick of them by the time I get home and will, therefore, never need to be disappointed. Unhealthy re-adjustment idea, this is.

I’m still hung up on this batman thing. I stand up for batman.

Feel free to stop reading if you have better things to do, from here, I digress. I’m on lunch break and have nothing else to do but ramble in your direction.

Did I ever explain the title change up top?
Adventures of Amy Adventures of Nambewe
Nambewe, is my Malawian name. It’s a clan name, with the Na-indicating that I’m female. Had I been a man I would have been Mbewe. But I’m NAmbewe: female. Anyway, being given a traditional clan name is a sign of respect and cultural integration. I’m proud of it. Others call me Nachisale, which is a different name. Others call me Emma. That’s not a nickname, that’s a mispronunciation of Amy. I’ve come to like the name Emma, though because that’s what the people I love in Mulanje call me.
Other noteworthy accomplishments: Nokia phones have a game called snake. I am a snake master.
Prepare yourselves for me, I’m almost home! Then again, it’s been explained to me that almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades…so we’ll see what happens.