Friday, February 12, 2010

Latenight- Malawi style


Some of you have expressed curiosity about my day-to-day routine. While I try to dazzle you with pictures of monkeys and decadent Malawian sunsets, the truth is that I have a pretty set schedule:

-4:45 wakeup, leave by 5:30
-5:30-7:00: pick up nurses, drive to the site
-7-2ish (on average): screen and treat babies
-2-3: drive home
-3-4: data entry, repack boxes for the next day
-4-6:30: shower, read, try to get on the internet
-6:30 dinner
-6:30-9: more reading etc
-9: bedtime

-"Sleep in" until 7:30
-Maybe some errands (grocery store, open-air market, hardware store etc)
-More nothing
-8pm: Go out to one of the 4 restaurants that our teams loves
-More nothing

I think I'll pretty much stick to that rigorous schedule for this weekend because although its not super exciting: the week can really take it out of you. Last weekend, though, I broke with tradition and went out on the town with Mrs. K -our program coordinator. Mrs. K is a wealthy Malawian woman who is in her late thirties but seems about 25. She always wear high heels, changes her hair all the time and loves all things American. She is a devout Catholic but she loves her some Akon and we bonded over our mutual adoration of terrible music. From the time she picked me up from the airport she had promised to take me out because, in her words, "everyone is too serious!!!" While I find my coworkers less than serious, I still wanted to see the Malawian nightlife scene.

On the way we decided to call Horris- one of our drivers who is 27 and very quiet. I think that's partly because his English is not stellar: if you ask him almost any question he will reply "ah yes of course." Endless comedic possibilities but makes communication difficult. What he lacks in linguistic facility, however, he makes up for in serious muscle so he acted as our amiable bodyguard for the evening.

We went to two clubs: Blue Elephant and Mustang Sallys. Blue Elephant was packed with young Malawian 20-somethings with money to burn and a few sketchily old white men who I think were there to pick up prostitutes.

We had a few drinks and then hit the dance floor.  As the only white girl I certainly attracted a lot of attention but it wasn't uncomfortable and I had Horris to deflect any unwanted attentions. I actually think that the Malawian boys were more respectful than boys at, say, Fishco. A simple "no thanks" seemed to suffice just fine and we were able to enjoy ourselves.

As for the dancing: people in Malawi have great rhythm. I think, I hope at least, that I didn't embarrass myself. In fact, I think Molly Jo would be proud: I went all out and had a great time. My thought was that no matter what I do people are going to stare because I wore my white skin so I might as well have fun. I especially had fun at the second club even though it was quite empty. One perk of that, however, is that we basically could request every song so we turned the night into my iPod (a scary place for most people except those who frequent clubs like this). So Akon and Beyonce ruled the night and I was able to flashback to Saturday nights with my favorite ladies of 444 (don't worry: I requested our "call to arms" and even clapped like our favorite little friend).

It was also funny to see what a Malawian celebrity Mrs. K is. Everywhere we went she knew people through church or the internet cafe she owns or through the general social network. Horris and I were just along for the ride.

All in all, it was a truly awesome night especially because it also included a late night ice cream.  Quite a depature from my normal routine and well worth it.

Note on the picture: This is not a picture of the club, nor was it even taken last weekend. It's the moon rising from Chez Macky's: one of our favorite hangouts. Those bags of water are hung all around the porch and supposedly keep flies away (mechanism unclear). But its the only picture I have that was taken at night so, in the interest of marginal relevance: enjoy the mediocre image. 

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