I went into to Liwonde (20 min minibus ride) for a meeting with the District Hospital Management team to present my work plan. I arrived at 9:30am for our 10am meeting. I met with my Counterpart and at 10:30am we found out the management team was in a budgeting meeting with Auditors (you didn’t know this yesterday when you confirmed?? Hmmm.) so we waited, and waited until 1pm. Then finally my Counterpart realized that this wasn’t going to happen so we rescheduled for tomorrow.
I met up with Kate (another Peace Corps Volunteer and my old roommate) for lunch. Nsima and beans, the usual Malawian eats.
Then we strolled through the used clothing market (to make up for the lack of productivity in my work life! Ha!) and I found a fabulous dress for my upcoming birthday party for only $1!! We said goodbye and I headed towards the bus depot (It’s fairly easy to get a ride from Machinga to Liwonde from another District Assembly member but almost always have to ride a minibus back to Machinga.).
I walked to the road to wait for a minibus that was actually leaving. You have to be careful because bus attendants will ask you where you are going and then take you to their bus that’s almost always empty which means you’ll be waiting for at least 30 minutes for them to fill the bus. No thanks! So I was standing there waiting on the road and two buses pull up. Of course I’m swarmed by guys trying to get me to ride their bus. For some reason everyone seem way more aggressive today, the first guy told me the bus ride was going to be 300 kwacha which is double the rate (150kw) so I said no way!! I live in Machinga and know the rates, it’s 150. He was nice and offered me a great deal of 250kw. No! Then the other guys come up and when I told them I wouldn’t pay 300 (these guys see me several times a week I’m not sure how they think that I don’t know the real rates, but you never know! ). So I said no thanks, I’ll wait. Of out of nowhere this guy two guys back from me reaches over and shoves my head for who knows what reason. I was shocked. Did he really touch me? (Note: Malawians are very non-confrontational people!!) But he TOTALLY shoved me. I’m in shock and look around to gauge others reactions and nothing. Everyone is still trying to get me on their bus for 300kw. What? A guy (he was drunk but that’s not really the issue here) shoves a woman! A visitor to Malawi! and NO ONE, no bus attendants, no one at the nearby store, no one on the bus has flinched or said anything. This all slowly absorbing into the numbness of shock and I react. I start yelling (Hello you can call me the ugly American today!! Ekk!!) and walk away. No one does anything when I yell except try to get me on their bus and to buy a fried ball of dough. WHAT???? I was so irate I was shaking at this point (disclaimer: it’s been a long week thus far. I had been asked for money who knows how many times BY adults and all my meetings had been postponed so I was already well into a subconscious pity party…). I walked around the block not sure what to do. I had to get back to Machinga and I had to take a bus because no one was driving by…so I wait a few minutes and found a minibus that ended up charging me 200kw.
It frightens me that I have that kind of anger inside of me. I had a lot of anger in Ecuador, quick flashed of unexpected anger flooding my body. Not understanding where it comes from makes it hard to prevent this flash flood. Meditating on it today I realized that I keep telling myself to be present, but being present isn’t floating from moment to moment. It’s truly being OF the moment. I’m stuffing my mouth with food so hurried for the next bite/to finish/next best thing I’m forgetting to chew-taste-swallow.
It’s easy to be present when you’re running.
This moment, this anger is a mirror to myself, a mirror exposing my need to ground-root-connect myself to the moment, to life, the uncomfortable.