09 December 2011

.first week.

This first week has really flown by, I’ve been swapped with trainings and intensive language classes. I’m will be staying in Lilongwe (the capital) until Monday morning when I’ll head out to my site. I’ve been staying at a hostel (about 15 min walk from PC office) called Korea Gardens. Most businesses in Malawi are owned my Asian or Indian Immigrants, which makes for interesting dynamics. My days have been 8-5. I’ve been lucky to have met several volunteers who have been quick to take me to the market or local eatery to experience Malawian food.  It’s been a full week!!

Here are some of my first impressions:
*Warm heart of Africa: No joke! Malawians are soooo nice. Every single worker (and since labor is CHEAP, you might make about $30/month doing labor work everyone has a TON of workers) at the hostel knows me by name and feels obligated to help me learn Chichewa! Strangers just start conversations with you. I was crossing the street today and this cute woman next to me says “What you fear?” I said “getting hit. Haha” “oh no! no one will hit you. You enjoy your day”. Haha.
*Fuel: this country doesn’t have any!! You can tell when you are nearing a gas station because you will see miles of parked cars. No one knows when gas is coming so people just wait. Then you see guys walking about with big gas cans my language teacher told me that they are buying the gas for 1,000 kwacha ($6.60) and then they will sell it for $5,000 kwacha! That’s business.
*This isn’t Latin America: PC picked me up at the airport (which is about 45 mins outside of town) and driving back to the office we passed not towns but huts. Yes, huts.
*Transport: Bikes are everywhere the rustier the better and man! Do they know to load a bike up! I hope to later take pictures of some classic bikes.
*Red soil: it’s just a beautiful as I imagined!
*Language: Call me naïve but when they said the official language of Malawi was English I assumed that it would be the most widely spoken but in the capital EVERYONE speaks Chichewa. Muli bwanji? It’s a beautiful language, but I’ve only got the greetings covered so far.
*Phones: There are no phone booths. Ecuador has cabinas (booths) everywhere and you could call any country. There is NONE of that here and even the cell phones don’t have per minute rate, it just depends on the day.
*Wal-Mart: You can run but you can’t hide. I mean Malawi is almost safe from Americans, there is NO KFC, NO McDonalds, but they do have a store called Game, which is owned by Wal-Mart. That’s right a Wal-Mart in Malawi, no one is safe.
*Weather:  It’s hot and humid. It’s rainy season but it’s only rained once since I arrived and I’m hoping it rains soon because it is only getting hotter by the day.
*Power: Even in the city the power is super touch’n’go so everyone has generators. The power has gone out at least once everyday since I arrived.
These are just quick first impression to give you a taste of my first few days.
Thank you for all your love.
I am well.

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