Two weeks ago, we were enjoying the three-hour drive to the lake and looking forward to a gin and tonic by the water. We were on a sparsely populated stretch of road when we heard a bang. It took several seconds, but we soon realized the rear right tire had burst. Kelly, (in who’s car we were in) steered the car over to the narrow shoulder as far as possible. The tire was literally in shreds – it exploded – but luckily Kelly had bought three new tires that morning and was sure her spare was in good shape. We had just finished setting up the reflective triangles at the front and rear of the car when two teenage Malawian boys jogged up, ready to help.
Changing the tire was a smooth operation and only took twenty minutes or so. While the boys worked on the tire (Sandy supervised), a few of us went to chat with the crowd of Malawian women and children who had gathered near the car. They didn’t speak English, but my friend Jen speaks pretty good Chichewa so we managed to get along. They were lovely and eager to show off their small homestead. They pointed out chickens and guinea fowl, and then showed us their goats (kept in a pen three feet off the ground to protect them from hyenas). They invited us to sit on the reed mats on the porch of their mud home and we chatted. They listed off the names of the ten children gathered around and explained that they had more children off at school.
By the time we were ready to go, we felt as though we’d made new friends. While car problems continue to plague us (as they do most people out here) we always feel confident that there is a generous person nearby ready to help.
We eventually made it to the lake – had a really wonderful time, and saw the first woman ever complete her swim across Lake Malawi. She even did it in record time, beating the previous record by five minutes.