Dispatches from Malawi|
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|Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006|
so i have just spent almost 3 weeks travelling. first was hitching from blantyre to lilongwe, and then to mzuzu-cities in malawi going south to central to north. and then a coaster, which is like a medium sized bus (OR maybe a small city bus). to karonga which is at the border. then two taxis, with one short break, had us over the tanzanian border and into mbeya. we spent a nice at a very tiny but nice place, called lily's guest house. the next day we hoped aboard a 24 hour train that took us to dar es salaam, which i believe is the capital of tanzania. on the way, we passed through a national park, which was like being on a wierd safari. we spotted monkeys, zebras, a few girafees, lots of impala, and a few warthogs-our friend who took the bus home, said he had to wait 20 mins as elephants crossed the road in front of them.
finally arriving in dar we went to subway-yes the sandwich shop-and went to a little pub called florida.
then we hopped on a two hour ferry, which was surprisingly nice. and landed in zanzibar. first we arrived in a place called stone town, which is the main, city centre. did a little shopping and walked around a bit to explore. it is really beautiful place, and hopefully i will be putting up some pictures soon, of the entire trip. the next morning we took off to the west side of the island. we took a taxi and then got on this tiny sailboat to cruise across a bay to the penisula. but no worries, there were no sharks, the water was too shallow. we landed on a practically deserted white beach at a small bungalow called, kae beach. it was owned by a villager (khamis) and some nice italian guy. it was great-we had the whole place to ourselves, and were allowed to cook. the only problem came from the obsessive playing of celine dion on the radio.
for christmas, we cooked mashed potatoes, spinach stew, and some pasta-the girls all had some fish and crabs, fresh from the ocean. on tuesday we headed back to stone town. spent 2 nights there, shopping and enjoying more exotic foods-malawi being landlocked has a very limited seafood menu- on the second day in stone town, we headed south just for the day, to try and swim with dolphins, but unfortunately none were found, but we did a little snorkelling.
then we headed up to north beach,a place called nungwi, where the party was. spent new years on a baech called kendwa, it was interesting-saw the sunrise on 2006 over the indian ocean.
the next day was back to stone town. we had a nice meal. on our last day, we took a small boat to prison island, whcih was where they used to put prisoners-no jails needed, the ocean acted as a good barrier-most couldnt swim. and then they transported giant turtles to the island which are over 175 years old. they were crazy huge.
now back in dar, waiting for a train back, that is not 6 hours delayed. lucky there is an american club here with pool, dr pepper, dvds, air conditioning (it is so hot in this country).
|Saturday, September 17th, 2005|
last weekend i headed up to lake of stars, a music festival in malawi, that is held at chinteche. it was pretty beautiful place, even though the beach was surruounded by large rocks, making a trip into the lake somewhat dangerous.
it was a fun weekend, with bands from malawi and other parts of southern africa, as well as djs from the us and uk playing til 6am. people came from all over. it was an entertaining, and very different experience to have here.
this weekend, i headed up to lilongwe to hand in a proposal. i left my house at about 8am. got on a minibus to the next trading centre. i went to the police block, talked to the officers, and waited about half an hour. they got me a ride on a big rig, which took me to mwanza-which should be less than half hour drive, but took him over an hour, as he had to stop 3 times. then he dropped me at the next police block (in 330km there are about 7 police blocks, and possibly more, depending on the day). i waited there for an hour and a half-and the police didnt ask anyone. finally they tell me i can get on a bus that will take 5 hours and stand 2/3 of the way. but its free. i said no, and walked down the road a bit out of the crowd.
i sat on the side of the road, for about 2 1/2 hours-at the start of hour two, some kids came over to give me a chair to sit on. then 2 south afrikans working on some project here picked me up (all the kids cheered as i got in the car) and took me to balaka-the next police block. i was completly dehydrated at this point and a young girl started chatting with me, and offered to run and get me a coke.
then we sat and chatted at her house for a little while. got back on the side of the road. a chibuku truck (local beer thats thick and chunky) picked me up, and gave me a ride to the next road block, where i again bought a coke and chatted with a malawian guy drinking a sprite until he was ready to go, at which point he offered me a ride to lilongwe. overall, a fun day. but completely and totally exhausting.
almost 9 hours on the road-for what should have been a little over 3 hours of travel.
where else could that happen
|Friday, September 2nd, 2005|
the rest of the trip with my brothers was a success. we saw lions, tigers and bears-oh my. no, we saw a herd of lions, some zebras, giraffes, monkeys, hippos, and a bunch of little animals. at safari in zambia, at south luangwa. it was really nice, and we were lucky to see lions, as they hadnt seen them in 7 days.
we then drove all day to lusaka, the capitol of zambia, spent the night in a tent and went to livingstone. on the borer of zimbabwe. we spent the night relazing at a little backpackers lodge called fawlty towers. and the next day spent the entire day swinging on a gorge swing-a 3 1/2 sec drop and then a swing out. like bungee jumping but you go out, instead of back up. we also went repelling and did some more jumping off cliffs.
then we hit vic falls. although it was the midst of dry season here in africa, it was still amazing. so much cooler than niagra. and i hear its even better when rainy season is happening.
it was great to get out of zambia, and nice to because they speak nyaja, which is very similar to chewa in structure and vocabulary. although i couldnt get everything. i could still chat, and therefore not seem like a total tourist.
the night we spent in south luangwa, we had a beautiful little hut. and the cmapsite was attacked-not really- by an elephant. it was just checking stuff out, and the guards chased her away with lights and shouting. seems odd.
my brothers left leaving me with a lot of food, exhausted, and out of money. but it was great to share a little of my experience here with people from home. so they could get a taste of what my life is like.
so. i finally came back to work. which i had been having problems with. but now things are looking much better.
we got funding to open a hiv testing centre in our area, which is one project i have been working on for almost 10 months. we also got funding to train some teachers in our area on lifeskills-what i have been teaching, so that after i leave, the schools can still offer the subject, as it is currently part of the curriculum, but not taught in schools. that should be a really fun training.
things are looking good, and now i am headed to the lake. so ill write more later
|Monday, August 15th, 2005|
my brothers arrived last saturday, and have been enjoying their brief stay in malawi.
they arrived around 5pm. and jumped in the back of my friend's pickup truck. we went to blantyre, and ate at a nice indian restaurant. then went out for a few beers at cactus, one of the big bars in the city.
the next day, we went out to a township of blantyre, to see the wedding of my friend's sister. it was nice. a good cultural experience.
the next day, we went up to the mountain, and climbed about an hour to the first waterfall. we were woken by monkeys on the trees knocking berries unto our roof. then went swimming in the pools created by some rocks in the river all afternoon.
back to blantyre, and then to my site, to see my house and where i stay and work.
then we headed up to monkey bay, the southern part of the lake, for a few days. had venice beach lodge, all to ourselves. it was a nice but sandy place.
we are now in lilongwe. and hopefully headed to zambia this morning. hoping to find aplace to put our heads for the night.
|Saturday, July 23rd, 2005|
it has been forever since i last wrote.
things have been crazy for me. i have been working really hard.
spent some time in dedza, this beautiful mountain region. teaching 24 new health volunteers about hiv/aids and community assessment.
also drank some kachoso-a local brewed liquor, then read about it killing 60 in kenya. but this stuff is gross, but it is a dollar. and it is hard to beat that price. from the right villager it is fine-except my mouth was numb for a few days.
then i went to the lake for a bbq, to see my friends parents, that was nice and beautiful as always. sat on the side of the road trying to hitch for 5 hours with 3 friends of mine, we got drunk, and finally right as we were about to give up, a car pulled over and took us home, we sat in the back of a pickup drinking and singing for 2 or some hours.
also went to a hippy festival to raise money for a school. it was wierd. partied hard all night around this bonfire, saw 2 great malawian muscial acts, and then the next day baboons are runnning all over the place. i got less than one km from 2 sleeping elephants.
have been working as well. doing a lot of trainings, and trying to get new projects off the ground. to establish a youth club as an organisation, and to get a nutrition for orphans program started. still teaching and loving that. also, got a new secret project of starting a human rights group here, to focus on glbt issues. which is great, i already have a few interested malawians. i am very excited.
my brothers are coming soon, and i am excited to see them.
til next time.
tsalani bwino pat
|Monday, June 6th, 2005|
|Afrikan music to check out
So last night i attempted to go to a concert, which i found out will actually be next sunday at a local bar called chez ntemba. it was mr nice, a singer from tanzania. who sings fagilia http://web.syr.edu/~fbanyikw/Fagilia.htm
and a song called first lady on rafiki. i don't speak swahili, so i dont really understand what he is saying in fagilia. but a fun song to dance to.
the most popular without a doubt, here would be the late brenda fassie, who od'd a year or two ago, but made some awesome music and did some great things down in south afrika, like being openly bisexual. mali is the only cd i have, but she rocks.
also jose chameleon, another singer from tanzania has a fun song dorotia that also kicks ass to dance too.
mafikizolo another south afrikan group has some really fun songs. they play kwaito music.
there is also danny k. from zambia who sings a song called yakumbuyo-although i dont speak the zambian language, i think it is nyanja, but it is very similar to chichewa, and ya kumbuyo translates as "from behind" an interesting topic for a song, and was unfortunately banned from malawian radios. even though everyone loves the song.
Oliver Mtukudzi from zimbabwe is awesome too. he has a song that is like what shall we do. he has been performing for years and doing a lot great things here, raising awareness and i dont know a lot of his music but worth checking out for sure.
maybe tomorrow i will go over malawian music. thats it for now
|Friday, June 3rd, 2005|
so. it has officially been a year in malawi.
it has been nice and interesting. we just welcomed a new group into the country, and it made me think about my first time in malawi and how much i loved the country. usually immediate crushes turn into disappointement-but i am still in love with this country.
i have been in the city for a few days for a training, and then i have been doing mid term medical, which means i have to poop in a cup for three days. the things you never thought you would do/write/say.
it is becoming winter, the short fall change. its still nice, because even though the nights are cold, the days are still hot. the colors are changing again and everything looks different.
i have travelled between blantyre and lilongwe maybe 20 times and each time, it looks so different. as if i am in a different place altogether. after a few weeks the world changes so drastically.
one more year.
|Monday, May 23rd, 2005|
i just came back from senga bay-it was my third time there. i had gone up for a friend's birthday, and we had a great time. a small group of my friends went. we had a nice little party.
danced and drank a little friday night at nyama choma (roasted meat) some little lodge.
then stayed at kambiri lodge. which is usually 60$ a night, but we got it for 6. then saturday we hung out on the beach all morning. swimming. hanging on the boat. then later in the afternoon, the 3 malawians who were swimming with us, go running out of the lake, screaming mvuu, mvuu.
i yell that they are lying but they point, and indeed there it was.
about 3 feet from where we had been swimming a giant hippotamus was walking by. all you could see was its head pop out of the water to catch a breath every once in a while.
it was exciting. my first time to see an animal in the wild. except for monkeys, but they dont count.
ok. thats all for now.
|Monday, May 9th, 2005|
well. things are going well.
i went to a training on a model of nutrition education last week. it was held at the natural resources college. which is a beautiful campus. although the training was not good, i had a good week.
one of the other volunteers and i spent the week hanging out with all these college kids, who loved us.
the first night, jen told me about some story in the paper. at a local bank in malawi, the staff went inside the bank one morning and found a naked man standing there. the staff all refused to work because they believed that he was a wizard, as he had somehow gotten into the bank. the man claimed not to know what he was doing. and the staff got off.
then we hung out with some cool guys, tried some local booze-called kachasu.
went to a disco and were the hits of the party.
heading back to site tomorrow to start a training.
|Wednesday, April 27th, 2005|
last monday, i went to one of my coworker's house, who is one of my best friends in my village. his name is hannex, and his daughter evaness is terrified of me still. she would only get close to the big white man to take candy from me. but we went after work one day, his wife cooked nkwani wotendere-which is steamed pumpkin leaves with groundnut flour. and it sounds not good, but is the best food in malawi. i went around and chatted with his family, because there are about thirty of them, living in a 50 metre radius. all night we sat outside and chatted, one of my students came by and we talked. then all the young kids came and sang and danced for us. i taught them a song i learned in dedza-
nyani, nyani, nyani, nyani
munaphe lanji, nyani
which means, monkey, monkey
you killed a monkey, and now you will walk slowly, slowly, always looking out. (cause the monkey will come back to kill you).
i spent the night, and it was a great time.
i had a really busy week at work. we went into a village and tested 14 youths for hiv, which was really exciting, and taught about 50 6-8th graders about hiv. i also started teaching again, which i really missed.
then this weekend i came in early, to go see my friend who lives at the mountain. 4 of us walked up to a waterfall- i climbed straight up a mountain for like an hour. then went swimming at this nice waterfall, with a little pool. it is awesome. it was a beautiful day, and the mt is fucking amazing. it is also huge. it inspired me enough to want to come back and climb to the top-and you know i am not one for walking, let alone up a mountain for 2 days. to get across, it can take up to 5 days. you could spend weeks there, and see only new places. but to be honest, i might just take a plane to the top peak and be lazy about it.
thats it for now.
|Wednesday, March 30th, 2005|
after taking a day off from my vacation on the lake. i threw a little party for myself. it was nice, about 30 or so peace corps volunteers showed up from all over the country. we had a barbeque at the house. we bought a tiny pig, and i helped kill it-even though i wouldnt eat any of it. we ate drank, and were merry. then we went out to a little bar called chicago, played some pool and danced. then we headed out to sunset, which used to be the home of a rich man, but got converted into a dance club and restaurant. the dance floor was an indoor pool, that is now surrounded by mirrors and is overlooked by the bar. after that we had a little barbeque. easter sunday i went to a malawian bar called boozers recreation point, and then to a chibuku bar-chibuku is like beer, and it is only made locally. it is served in cardboard-like a milk carton. and you shake it before you drink it. it sort of has a bitter, gritty, chunky taste and feel to it. and you drink it warm. but it is nice once you get passed the thought you are drinking your own vomit.
then went home and rested. took monday off as well.
then on tuesday, went to the carlsberg beer factory with some friends-probably the best beer factory in the world (the slogan, which is found on the tshirt i bought, is carlsberg, probably the best beer in the world). then we went to happy hour, and had a few drinks. made some pizzas in a mud oven. and crashed.
hitched a ride to lilongwe, and will be here for the week working on a project.
thats all. happy bday.
|Friday, March 25th, 2005|
i have just returned to blantyre, my city, after 4 days at the lake. it may have been one of the longest vacations i ever took. a 7 hour drive, which took 15 on the way up, and 11 on the way back.
but it was beautiful. i had been to nkhata bay, in the northern region in august. the lodge we stayed on is set on a rockface, and overlooks the lake. it is really amazing. saturday sat out on the raft with a crate of beer talking with all kinds of people. sunday we took a boat and jumped off a 12 metre cliff. i think, thats about 30 feet. it was fun. then we boated out to a beach, and did some snorkelling, i hung out with some kids. it was funny, because they are tonga people-that is their tribe, and their language is chitonga. i dont speak that, but we were still able to communicate, because of the similarities in chewa and tonga. so we sat and chatted for an hour or so. and they kept touching me, because they were so amazed by how white my skin was. i know i need a tan.
went into the town the next day and in the centre of the market is a large baobab tree with a hut built around it. the restuarant is called under the tree, and i got some nsima, maize patties, with beans and cabbage. then hung out, swimming and relaxing.
it was a pretty amazing experience. at the place, there were people from belgium, germany, lithuania, japan, america, canada, malawi, tanzania, three boys who just finished their service in the israeli army, and i think a south afrikan. and surprisingly we all got along.
it was a pretty amazing experience. now, i am getting prepared for my birthday party.
and of course, saving afrika.
|Thursday, March 17th, 2005|
i am heading up the lake on friday to enjoy myself and relax before i turn 24, and leave my early 20's/youth/good part of my life.
work has been going too slowly. been seriously frustrated. i understand how slowly community development happens, but this has been quite ridiculous, and annoying. every time i verge on making a big step, it gets set back by my executive director, because he wasnt in charge.
i may be moving out of my house, soon. hopefully. i have been living in conditions, very unfavorable, according to peace corps. but we will wait another 2 weeks to see if i can have my own toilet, and no audience when i want to use it.
let me give you some headlines from the paper this last weekend:
the president of malawi is seeing ghosts in his house. then he arrested the 3 journalist who wrote about it
cher called britney a ho (the best part was that the malawian reporter decided to explain what that means---whole, remember we dont differentiate between r's and l's)
and africans love god, even though they dont really understand him
and the last bit of news, i had my first lesson in driving stick on friday night...no deaths, i only stalled once-on a hill, and i think overall not too bad for a first time driving in a city at night. just a little more practice-not that i drive, because i am in peace corps.
|Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005|
there is a little saying, we have in the peace corps.
'you arent a real volunteer until you shit your pants.'
lord knows it aint pleasant. but i guess last night, i dreamt i would be a real volunteer, and today i am.
the things you can share when you are living in africa.
|Tuesday, February 22nd, 2005|
you must you must go here:
it is brilliant
|why i love malawi
1. the people (both peace corps volunteers that i love and malawians that are amazing)
2. larium dreams undefferred
3. constant sleepovers on weekends
4. cooking food from scratch
5. bargaining in chichewa - osandinena mtena wa azungu. ndimakhala m'malawi. mukuganiza kuti ndine bwana, chifukwa ndili oyear koma ndilibe ndalam zambiri. ndine odzipereka choncho nenani mtenga wabwina.
6. transport (riding a minibus with 25 people and 3 goats, or in the back of pickups)
7. the markets
8. the music
9. it is ok to be late all the time
10. for 6 months after i come home, i get to answer 'what have you been up to' with living in afrika.
|Saturday, February 19th, 2005|
it has been a while, since i updated last i think. so i just wanted to write a quick message to say that i am doing fantastically well. the weather has been nice. work is moving. school is great. i am having really great parties. i went to a disco at one of my high schools the other day.
i am meeting people and feel good about being here.
so that is wonderful for me.
i am a bit tired today, but i am going to go play on a playground and have a beer.
keep sending me love. and i hope that everyone is close to as good as i am.
|Sunday, February 6th, 2005|
hey everyone. so another week passes in malawi. i learned the other week, what the malawian flag, which i think is really cool, symbolizes. so it is a black stripe, then a red, then a green stripe. in the black stripe is a red sun rising. the black is for the color of their skin, the red is for the blood they lost over the green land. the red sun is called a kwacha (kwacha means dawn, but also is dollars. tambala is like cents and i think sunset) anyway. i thought it was interesting.
school is going well, so well that they want me to become a teacher at the school. but i think standing for 40 mins a day and speaking in english, to people who dont speak english is tough enough. also, i have other projects that i am working on-i met with the guy at the hospital who is in charge of doing all the blood tests for hiv, and we are getting him to go into more rural areas to test people too poor/lazy/sick/busy/scared to travel to the hospital. i think also sometime in february, we will get funding to start teaching people about taking care of the sick in their homes, which will include herbal medication, and prevention of tb and hiv. which i think will be really fun. i love training in chichewa.
i also watched passions, the soap opera at this restaurant, with this malawian woman, who loves the show, and thinks that zombies and the shit that happens on the show really happens in real life. who would have thought you could watch soap operas in the middle of africa.
things are a little crazy right now in malawi, tensions are high. the last president of malawi, bikili muluzu who was the head of the UDF united democratic front or something party was in charge for 10 years. at the end he tried to change the only 2 terms rule. he failed, so he rigged the elections (or erections more often, because l's and r's are interchangeable) so that bingu wa mutharika (or mutalika, which is pronounced like metallica, but he isnt so against napster) anyway. bingu got in and to deal with all the claims that the elections were rigged, he started this big witch hunt in the party to deal with all the corruption in the government, which didnt make bikili or his supporters happy. so they are having lots of problems in the ruling party. no riots or fighting has broken out. it is all just shouting and calling each other names, like any good political dispute.
|Saturday, January 22nd, 2005|
two weeks ago i began teaching life skills at two secondary schools. i have only had the chance to talk about self-awareness and self-esteem, as things move rather slowly. but i have already had a few interesting questions. my two favorite so far:
how does fertilization occur?
and how does one become a sex addict?
those seem to be relevant and important questions.
second. well. i finally broke down and bought a cell phone. it seemed like it was a necessity in this day and age. how can you be the most popular boy in all of afrika if you are not easily accessible.
so to those who wish to speak to the reigning prince of malawi, give me a shout, but make sure to take into account the fact that i am currently 7 hours ahead of you.
here is my number 011 265 9 362 543
i hope to hear from all of you rather soon.
|Friday, January 14th, 2005|
|what happens to a larium dream deferred?
i thought i would recount some of the recent dreams that have kept me pondering as the cock crows at 4am.
i am hanging out with some of the guys from that jackass show, and they keep stripping and taunting me, until i trick one of them to pee on himself (and no i did not wake up pee stained) then i go to the george bush christmas special. he is dressed as an elf, singing carols, with eric stoltz, as a reindeer in a fire truck. i start drawing a board game, sort of like magic with faieries, wizards and elves and a maze, for a dwarf who wants to play. then i see liz, my older brother's girlfriend, and i go to her and she is drawing a picture of DC. i begin to tell her how i dont like nick's gf (which isnt true, i usually like them, more than i do him) until i see mrs. bush go over to my seat and start looking at my game and i rush over to stop her. WAKE UP and PONDER
three nights ago.
hanging out with a bunch of kids, but then we all have to run and hide, because a giant jellyfish starts to chase us. but he also has two werewolves with him, who luckily can only come out at night. i tried to save people, but the jellyfish ooze turns you into a zombie. then i send the fast kids to go get swords from a boat. and me and my friends try to put the zombies in taxis to save them. then we all start running cause the ww and the jf are coming. but i noticed that my friend katie (in peace corps with me) isnt there, so i turn to save her, and my friends say 'meet us at babe ruth's house' yeah, ok. i find katie, but she is zombiefied. WAKE and PONDER
two nights ago
i get on a plane to head to afrika. but turns out there is no top to the plane, which makes sense. we start circling a pole. and tom (friend from high school, and university) flies out. but we land and pick him up. but he flies out on second take-off as well. although he is not to badly hurt, my father who is the pilot of the plane, freaks out because he will get fired. (a little odd, cause dad is an accountant) WAKE and PONDER
there was another one, where i met elton john at his concert, and i couldnt tell if he liked me or not. but he drove me around in a limo, and all these random people from malawi were in it. my mom made some lasagne and elton likes to spank. i dont know. really. where do these things come from.