Out of Africa

We can’t really believe that we’re back in the US and have left Malawi for good (or at least for now!).  We had a whirlwind last few weeks, packing, saying goodbyes, and cleaning out the apartment.  The most stressful moment was realizing that the bags that we’d packed and weighed so carefully had to be 23 kg each, not 30kg.  Luckily Sandy stayed calm and got everything under control.

The goodbyes were the most difficult.  It was so hard to hug goodbye Cathy and Bertha and thank them for all of their hard work and care over the past two years.   There was a nice goodbye event for Sandy at work, where they gave him parting gifts and spoke about what a difference he had made.  Sandy even got a little teary.  Our cat was adopted by a sweet neighbor, so we were confident that we left her in a good home.  We had goodbye drinks at Doogles with friends, but are sure that we’ll see them all again.  And we’re sure we’ll come back to Malawi.

Our drive from Blantyre to Lilongwe was uneventful, except for the police speed traps.  The driver got a ticket in the first trap (with one of the six speed cameras in the country).  The second time he got pulled over, outside Dedza, the policeman swaggered up to the car and told the driver that he’d been speeding – he’d been going 94 km per hour.  The driver got out of the car and went to negotiate with the policeman.  Fifteen minutes later, he got back and we asked what had happened.  Turns out, the police didn’t have a camera!  How hilarious is that?  They just picked a random number that he was ‘speeding’ and then tried to get him to pay!

Anyway, got to the airport, got on the plane (with all our bags!), made it to the DRC (with a team of soccer champions who got off the plane with great fanfare), made it to Addis, then got lucky with an extra seat between us on the long flight from Addis to DC.  There was a terrible movie selection, though, except for The Sound of Music, which I’ve discovered is not a good plane movie because one can’t (or shouldn’t) sing along.

As usual, we have struggled a bit to get back into the swing of life in America – they drive on the wrong side of the road here!  We can go to the grocery store and buy any kind of cheese we want!  How do I work my new Smartphone?  What do you mean there’s an app for that?

Our Southern accents are coming back, but we’re still using British/Malawisms.  Sprinkles will now always be 100’s and 1000’s, overalls are now dungarees, soccer is football, and for a while, french fries will be chips.

As I reflect on our time in Malawi, we feel so fortunate to have had this experience.  I’ve grown as a person, matured, and become more confident.  We’ve made lifelong friends, learned to keep life’s real priorities in perspective, and had two and a half amazing years.

It feels like forever since I was that recently-arrived girl thinking that the minibuses were honking just to be friendly.  I won’t really miss minibus drivers.  Nor will I miss the snakes in our apartment (three in 2.5 years!  and we lived on the second floor!).  Or the cheap light bulbs that fall to the floor and shatter every time there’s a power surge, or the water cuts, or the fuel queues.  I won’t miss the s…l…o…w internet and the lack of communication with friends and family, or the potholes, or the high pitched hum of mosquitoes that have snuck into your net and hover around your ears in the middle of the night.

But more importantly, there are certain things we will really miss:

The people

The babies and team at Open Arms

The calm and relaxation at the tea estates

The magnificent Lake Malawi

Real produce in vibrant markets

Our cars

The mountains and plateaus

Safaris

Travel to Mozambique, Zanzibar, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Our adopted hometown

The Rains

The Dry Season

Dinner parties (Including Malawi Thanksgivings!)

Switching our L’s and R’s (exactry!)

Market shopping

The Coffee

The adventure of everyday life

I just wanted to thank all of you for your support, readership, and especially your comments.  This blog started as a way to keep in touch with family, but I am so glad we stuck with it – it’s so fun to go back and read posts from the past.

This is my last post, except for an upcoming Insider’s Guide to Blantyre – it might be helpful for people moving to Malawi.

We’re beginning a new chapter in Columbia, SC, as Sandy starts his International MBA program and we have a baby boy on the way.  We’re convinced we’ll end up calling him Iwe!

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Out of Africa

  1. Anonymous

    Welcome back home to the US and congratulations on baby Evans!!! So happy for you both and it it hard to believe that 2 1/2 years have come and gone so quickly……Glad you are home safe and sound.

  2. Ginger

    You are such a dear. We do love you so. Thank you for every word and picture.

  3. Alex

    Such a great piece – lots of smiles, and even a few tears. . . . great job!! We will miss the stories of Malawi too, which allowed us to be there too. Love you.

  4. Barb

    BIG Welcome HOME!!!! It was a wonderful two years for you both and memories that will last a lifetime. WE have so enjoyed YOUR trip to Malawi and glad you shared it with us. Will miss the blog but perhaps you can start a BABY blog and fill us in on life as loving parents! Glad you are home.

  5. Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful experiences with the people you’ve met and the wonderful land of Africa. Congratulations on your upcoming baby boy. You are both very brave and decent people. Thank you again.

  6. Susie Carter

    Well, you are here with me and I still cried when I read about your leaving Malawi! What a fantastic two and a half life-changing years we have ALL had thanks to you and Sandy and your blog. Now we have to get all your Malawi friends to come here to the USA to visit us all! As for the British-isms, Sandy did tell me he liked my jumper yesterday! Welcome home — we loved you being so happy there and sharing it with us. We love you home (at least for a while!).

  7. Anonymous

    I have read and enjoyed every post, some with envy….to be as young as you are and on such a great adventure. Now the real adventure is going to be that baby boy! XOXO, BBB

  8. It is wonderful to once again read your news from Malawi. I am sad that you will not be reporting on life there any more. I have enjoyed reading the blogs. It is wonderful to hear of the new baby coming. I hope you like Columbia. I will be leaving for Malawi next week.

  9. margaret

    So excited to see you in Montreat!!!!

  10. Anonymous

    great to hear that you are back here, I know you like it there, but finally we will have you again. all the best wherever you go Kate.

  11. Liz Kiss

    Aww, what a great post, Kate. I’m so glad that you decided to blog your time in Malawi. Looking forward to seeing you and beyond excited about Baby Evans 🙂
    xoxo

  12. Anonymous

    Hello Kate,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed yor blogs and will miss them. Congratulations on the pending birth of your son. Mother must be thrilled. Also, could you please e-mail me Mom’s e-mail address? Thanks.

    Al Simensen

  13. Anonymous

    Thanks for all your great blogs about your life in Malawi .Keep up the good writing. Can ‘t wait to see you. Granny

  14. i just subscribed to this blog today and one i love giving your child a name IWE! hahaha i like that

  15. Merry Chokani

    I have been away from home for over 19 years and returned to Malawi 7 months ago. I stumbled across your blog and totally enjoyed it. Can’t stop laughing about the joke that you will call your son ‘Iwe’. My last stop was Charlotte, North Carolina for 2 years. Many blessings.

  16. WOW! I have thoroughly loved your blog and have laughed so hard over “Iwe”!. i am from Charleston, South Carolina and came to Malawi in 2008 for a 2 year missionary nurse post and that has turned into 7 years 8 mos. I have volunteered at Queen Elizabeth from 2009-2013! Now I am a pastor and working to help 67 families who lost everything (maize crop, house, livestock, all personal items) recover from the January 2015 horrific heavy rains and flooding. January came in like a swarm of wild Lions. I miss all the things that you have mentioned. I really miss Charleston, shrimp, crab, oyster, flounder, and did I say shrimp? I hope to come home for a visit June 2016. I would love to get an opportunity to meet you if possible. Glad that you were here. “An Insider’s Guide to Blantyre” is just so wonderful! Thank you be your trip to the “Warm Heart of Africa”!

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