Friday, February 5, 2010


Last week I got the good news that I was going on the bi-weekly overnight trip to Namandage. Why was I so excited? The chance to see a different part of Malawi? Time to hang out with our nurses and drivers in a non-work setting? The dinner which always includes chicken (protein is almost non existent in my diet right now)? Sleeping in an extra 15 minutes? No, no and no. I was excited because I would get to hang out with a monkey.
Namandage is the base of operations for Father Samoso- an Italian priest who helps run a rural hospital. The reason we stay there is because we serve a site on Friday that is 3 1/2 hours from Blantyre so we'd need to get up at 3:30 am to get there on time. So, on Thursdays, we stay at Namandage which is between Chamba (the site we serve on Thursday) and Chipolonga and Chikweo (the sites we serve on Friday). But enough explanation- back to the monkey.

Much like every other sentient being in the 1990s, I had a serious thing for Aladdin. Putting aside blantantly racist imagery, Aladdin is one of Disney's masterpieces. Specifically, I loved Abu: Aladdin's plucky and sometimes pesky simian sidekick. My obession with Abu, combined with seeing a documentary  about Jane Goodall, left me with a hankering for a monkey friend.

Well, my friends, I finally got to play with a monkey. Father Samaso has a pet monkey named Figo who lives and plays at Namandage and I couldn't wait to to meet him. Yes, I know its unethical to keep monkeys at pets. Yes, I know monkeys probably have plently of nasty diseases. But c'mon- I got to play with a monkey!

Figo was quite the little rascal- he lives outside but kept sneaking inside to steal bananas and break cups.

Namandage was great in other ways: I got to take a long walk through two villages where we were followed by the usual gaggle of awestruck children, stupified stares, shouts of "azungu," butchered English and double-takes. But any chance to walk through Malawi is worth capitalizing on because it is such a beautiful country.
Mr. Figo

Me and Figo

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