Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fruit and fruitcakes? (OK that was cheesy)

Buying fruit and other produce is always cheaper and fresher in the villages than in town so we often stop on the way home.

There are a few markets that feature obnoxiously aggressive people. There is one market, N’Cando market (I call it creepy market), where we always get harassed.

One time a crazy person followed Lacy around yelling “OBAMA….OBAMA…OBAMA” for 10 straight minutes.

Another time a guy helped me carry some bottles so I said zikomo (thank you) and he went crazy talking in Chichewa. Apparently he was saying that I spoke Chichewa (any tourist with a pulse knows how to say zikomo so I’m not entirely sure where he got that impression) and that he wanted to know how old I was because he wanted to marry me. “I hope she’s my age!” he kept repeating (to the endless amusement of the nurses and drivers).

And last time, Lacey was helping me pour my water bottle over my hands to get them clean after clinic. A guy rushes up, thrusts his hands into the stream of water under my hands and starts yelling “yah! yah!” It was like we were washing our hands together and somehow he made it incredibly uncomfortable. Creepy but hysterical.

But N’Cando is the exception rather than the rule. Most markets are less, er, eventful and buying produce is usually pleasant and can even be fun. There is a market where the women know me and rush the car as soon as I arrive in an attempt to be the first to sell their wares. Last time we went they were all yelling “we are so proud of you” for some reason. I also particularly like them because they always give me a “prize” when I buy something. It's just an extra scoop or another eggplant etc but it makes me feel like I won something! Way better than, say, "extra eggplant" or "buy 13 for the price of 12!" I won!

Another fun Market is in Mulanje district on our way home for Muloza where we usually get pineapples, avocados (they call them pears) and the nurses and drivers get cassava.

There is a woman there who sells amazing pineapples for 50 kwacha (about 33 cents). She will cut them for you right there if you want and always helps me tie up my purchases in my chitenje.
I call her "zanga" (friend) and if by friend you mean someone who enjoys taking your money, then we are BFFers.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sports in Malawi

Football is incredibly popular in Malawi. Most people can't afford a real soccer ball so they take trash (mostly old plastic bags which are called jumbos) and roll them up, bind them with string and- voila- you have a jumbo ball like the one above.

Another popular game in Malawi is this one. Truth be told, I have no freakin clue how to play this game. I was told it was called net ball but again, I can neither confirm nor deny the validity of this claim. I have seen kids using corn husks to throw through the hoop but I'm pretty sure thats not how its normally played.

Anyway, as you can see from the picture, one of the reasons that I'm having trouble figuring out how this game is played is that I can't get close enough to watch it. White girl watching/chasing/asking for money is wayyyyyy more fun than net/cornhusk ball. So mostly all I see are the hoops and lots of kids running toward me. Who knows, maybe that's exactly how its played: throw some innanimate objects through the hoop and bide your time until you see a white person.

Too summarize: alls I know is that there are two (OK sometimes only 1) small metal hoops on a stick and that something is thrown through them at some point in time. You're welcome for that incredible vivid and precise description of this sport. Dontcha feel like you're in Malawi with me??

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Perfect Sunday

Another older post:

I had the most perfect day on Sunday. We went up to Zomba plateau and went horseback riding. I was a total nay-sayer- we'll never find this place, it won't exist any more, it won't be open, the horses will really be donkeys. Etc etc. you can see by the pictures that I randomly placed in the middle of this post, we did find it and we took the most unbelievable ride up through the brush in the plateau. My horse, a chestnut mare named Orchid was very high spirited but we got along great. I even got to school her in the ring when we were done and trotted/cantered without stirrups for a good bit. The sun was shining, I was on a horse, I knew I had Monday off and life was good. We bought veggies from the roadside market on the way home and had cucumbers/tomatoes with balsamic vinegar for dinner and frozen mango for dessert. Perfection.

My life be like...

Here are some pictures from my day to day life in Malawi:

Mixing antibiotics at clinic
Child labor: playing with the kids who live on Kabulla with us. Note my sweet Chacos. Yah, I've become someone who would wear Chacos in public.

Back of the car at the end of the day

Hiking at Mulanje part 2

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Good Friday indeed

(Old post from Good Friday:
People doing stations of the cross in the road. Needless to say we had to just pull over and wait.

Today was Good Friday and we went to Chingale- one of my favorite sites. We have a new student here, Gregg and so we took two cars instead of one. So it was just me, Lacey and Makwinja in the car. Lacey was studying her surgery book so Makwinja and I talked the whole time about inflation and education.

On the way we saw Gift, an 11 yr old who usually helps his mom by bringing one of his twin baby brothers to clinic and another young boy with a sibling who was also heading to Chiponde clinic. Because we had room in the car, we stopped and gave them a ride. Gift's baby brother was absolutely terrified. Like saw the grim reaper terrified. This kid would not stop screaming bloody murder and not just when he was looking at the scary white people. OK lets zoom in on that jeeeeest a little...
Turns out that he had never been in a car before- none of the kids had.

I also saw one of my favorite babies in the whole program- George P. Ahhhhhh I love that lil munchkin. I got to hold him during teaching and even danced with him.

His mom probably thinks I'm going to sell him on the black market.And Lacey accused me of liking the "waif look" in babies. And I'll admit he's kind of a frequent flier with our clinic. But I think Georgie-Porgie would be cute even if he put on like 5 kg. But perhaps I should be concerned that my standards of baby beauty have been warped by treating malnutrition!  

Also it's Gus' 26th birthday so we went to lunch at the Dirty Sun (The Food Court at the Malawi Sun hotel). And then we're having happy hour. Score. Props to Gus for being born.

Yesterday a child pooped on my shirt. I picked up the kid whilst it was naked and it used my shirt as TP. Left me with a visible skid mark. on my white tee shirt. sigh. my life here is so painfully glamorous.

Friday, April 23, 2010


So a lot of the clothing that Malawians wear is used and comes from South Africa, Europe and the US. Here's an example of a used clothes market. The name for used clothes is Kaungika which means piles. And the clothes are mostly sold in piles but some higher end items like these are hung up.

They don't generally have any idea about what is written on their shirts, its always funny to see a Malawian walking in the village with a Red Sox tee, or a muscle-y young man wearing a "Lady Chargers" or a pink "Rush Delta Delta Delta" shirt etc. Here's a cute girl wearing a cheerleader Halloween costume for example. To her its just a shiny dress:

They don't have any idea about brand names and labels and pick their clothes based on fit and durability (shocking I know). And in terms of style I get the impression that things that are kind of showy are embraced because they connote wealth. That's why many little kids wear these princess-type shiny dresses made out of very cheap fabric.

Anyway,  I did triple take at the site yesterday when I saw this:

Can't put that in context? Howssssabout a little help:
 That's right. Some Malawian woman is walking around with a $150 tote bag. Which I'm sure she'd gladly trade for a bag with sequins on it. Kind of makes me feel (rightly) silly about our national obsession with brands and prestige.