We knew this would happen. As you may have guessed, Africa is different than the US and rural Malawi is way different than we imagined! We felt pretty prepared for our living conditions. We've cooked plenty of meals over fire, bathed outdoors in 30 – 40 degree weather, and to U.S. Standards have lived relatively primitively and rural.
The things we were not so prepared for include lack of access to food, the nightmare that is transportation, and feeling really REALLY out of place. We will definitely expand on these topics in later posts.
The food variety here is grim. The cuisine consists of very few vegetables and a domineering presence of carbohydrates. The worst part is that our transportation to good food is expensive and hard to get a hold of! Our options are either walking an hour up and over a mountain to buy tomatoes, greens, and potatoes at the weekly market, or take a two hour matola (flat bed truck) ride at 3 or 4 AM to go into one of the cities to buy staples like rice, and vegetable variety like eggplant, or onion. The price of this trip is not very cheap either.
Then there is the 'Azungu factor.' We, for obvious reasons, STICK OUT! Everything we do is hilarious to Malawians. Especially when we speak Chitumbuka, that's a side splitter. The children especially get a kick out of us, or are terrified of us. It reminds me of the time I was the Easter Bunny at the mall. I was the best, most awesome stuffed animal in the world, OR the things nightmares are made of. Its a hard line to straddle. While I was helping at the clinic I literally made a child pee his pants from the shear terror of being near me... We stick out … one of these things is not like the other... hopefully these things will come to belong.
For all these things we were unprepared for, we also weren't prepared for the absolute beauty of everything! Even the grasshoppers are beautiful, and when flying are commonly mistaken for butterflies. Our site is nestled into the valley of about five mountains so the view is breathtaking.
As Malawians get to know us they stop asking for money and start inviting us for dinner. Everyone here smiles, and dances. It's awesome. While this does not feel like 'home' yet I think we can make it a nice home. We have already started a garden to combat our food dilemma and we are becoming more accustomed with the transportation. We may never NOT stick out, but I think we will slowly begin to fit in. There are certainly things we miss about thee US but there are things we are learning to LOVE about Malawi.
|Passion Flower on our porch.|