Thursday, April 11, 2013

Random Malawian Stuff

I've been very undisciplined about blogging and I apologize.  I'm concerned I'll lose memories of things I've experienced here, so here's random brain dump.

Mama!  That's what women of a certain age are called.  "Mama, can I carry your bags to your car?"  "Mama, I'm hungry, give me money"  "Mama, you are so pretty."  I like being called Mama.

Electricity.  There are both scheduled and unscheduled blackouts in Blantyre.  In my neighborhood, Namiwawa, the scheduled blackouts are on Tuesday and Thursday (6:00 p.m. - 8: 00 p.m.) and Saturday afternoons.  Then there are the times, like this afternoon, when there just isn't power.  I don't read the paper regularly, so they might have announced it. Or not.

Water.  Like electricity, water can be evasive.  Mostly, we have it.  But sometimes we don't.  In the toilets at work there is a large container of water so we can dip buckets to flush.  At home, the apartment has a back up system. Unfortunately, when that's in use, water pressure is low and there is no hot water.  Mostly, I take hot showers, but not always.

Weather.  We are heading into winter here and the dry season.  The weather, from my perspective, is awesome.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Highs in the mid to high 70's and lows in the low 60's.  Lots of sun.

Roads.  Ah, driving in Malawi.  I've gotten very confident in driving here - on the left side of the road, in a right hand full size van where the roads are consistently packed with pedestrians and bicycles.  Did I mention the number of roundabouts?  And the fact that driving rules are rarely followed?  Driving at night is scary.  Driving at night on the roads between cities is terrifying and dangerous.  Trucks passing around blind curves, people in the road (wearing black), no shoulders, etc.  Balancing defensive driving with aggressiveness is required.

Language.  The official language in Malawi is Chichewa and there are a number of dialects in different parts of the country.  I've found that most people speak English well and are happy to do so.  Children learn English in school and take it seriously.  I've had no language issues here although all I know how to say in Chichewa is "how are you" and "thank you" .

There is so much more to write about but I'll save that for another day.

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