|One of the many monkeys hanging around at the Sanctuary Lodge in Lilongwe where I facilitated a Team Building Workshop recently for a group of scientist who provide vaccines in East Africa for cattle|
Overall, I can't believe that in less than two weeks I'll be leaving Malawi. Sounds trite but it does seem as if I just arrived. But there are small things that make me realize I've been here for awhile. Some of the vegetable vendors call me by name now. The guys who sell bananas at the corner near my apartment wave and smile when I drive by. I am comfortable driving in Blantyre, a task which was anxiety inducing for the first few weeks. I feel as if I've gotten the hang of the balance of defensive and aggressive driving needed to survive in Malawian traffic.
I can tell you where to get the best/least expensive local food (NJamba - 750 MK for rice, pasta, potatoes or nsima; 1 meat; two veg); best vegetarian Indian (Veg Delight on Glyn Jones road - try the Dhal Puri - unique and awesome); best bakery (Gelato Carnival); etc, etc, etc.
I've made friends, which will make it harder to leave. The other day at work, my work neighbor at the next desk asked if I was excited about leaving. I told him the truth. I'm looking forward to seeing friends in Armenia and being home but will be sad to leave Malawi.
I'm equally excited and terrified by going through another door in my life. Entering a new phase is always stress-inducing and exciting. While I would like having something firm lined up for work, the current situation gives me an opportunity to consider what I really want to do. How I can best contribute. What adventures are available to me.
Because I've had the privilege so many times to leave one phase and enter a new one, I'm confident that something good is around the corner. At those moments (which usually occur at 3:00 a.m.) when I worry about financial security for my elder years, I'm comforted by the moment I had at Lewonde National Park. It was early on a Sunday morning.
I was on a driving game safari on a cool, clear morning with the game guide and another couple of tourists. We were all quiet and content to slowly drive through the bush, spotting herds of impalas, troops of baboons and the occasional wart hog. We'd just spent a few minutes watching the sun coming up over the Shire river, watching and listening as the hippos strolled into the water and started swimming and bathing.
I felt such a complete sense of peace and contentment while at the same time knowing with absolute certainty that something amazing and wonderful and possibly totally unexpected will come next. That feeling and belief has stayed with me.
Yes, preparing to leave Malawi is bittersweet. But I'll be too busy with work my last days here to have much time to fret. And next week, my last weekend, my friend Paul, along with his wife and kids, will join me for another fun day of jungle gym and junk food at Gelato Carnival.
Then I'll deliver some final training and start the 56 hour trip to Armenia where I'll have five days with wonderful, fun friends I met in Samoa. After another 20+ hour trip, I'll be home in Florida. Ready to settle in and look for the next adventure.
|My room at the Sanctuary Lodge. I've had all the creature comforts I could ask for in Malawi.|
|One of the team building participants - if a team member "faulted" in one exercise, they had to dance as a penalty. A good time was had by all.|
|A cloudy ride on the bus heading back to Blantyre. There are always people by the side of the road for the entire 300+ km trip.|