As we continued on our trip, we drove deeper and deeper into the countryside. We wound along the same dirt path which only got worse – larger rocks, narrower passes, and deeper ruts. We picked up several ladies who were walking along with various things balanced on their heads and gave them a ride to the next village. The whole time, Chrissie and her mother chatted in Chichewa, Chrissie periodically interpreting for me. We passed through more tea fields and drove along the rolling hills. Finally, we turned a sharp bend and behind a long line of blue gum trees was a small collection of cardboard, tin, and thatched shacks. Chrissie explained that this is her mother’s supermarket. If she needs eggs, cloth, a cell phone cover, anything, she can come to one of these small one-person lean-tos and stock up.
We continued on into fields of maize growing taller than the car. Chrissie and her mother waved and shouted greetings to almost everyone we passed, many of them being relatives.
Chrissie in her big hardy truck would have drawn attention on her own, but she had an mzungu (singluar of azungu) with her. Deep in this country village, it had probably been some time since they had seen a white person. Several people stared at me as we passed, mouth gaping slightly open. Some smiled and waved enthusiastically. And some gave chase – I turned around at one point and there were five small children running along behind our truck.
We passed several neighbors’ homes which were modest and rustic. Finally, we reached Chrissie’s mother’s home – a lovely brick structure designed for comfort and hospitality. After a brief tour, we had a delicious lunch.
The group of children who had been following the truck quicly grew in number and they were hanging out at the edge of the property. Every time I looked up at them, they smiled and waved. I went and talked to them (or mimed at them, as my Chichewa is limited to “banana” and “beer” and their English didn’t extend past “hello, how are you?”). I also took a few pictures of them which they loved seeing. After going inside for awhile, I looked back outside and the group had grown even more. They were all standing in the same spot, watching me and waiting for a wave or a smile. I looked up again, about twenty minutes later, and the group had crept up closer and were sitting on the steps. Every time I looked up, they laughed and waved.
So, I am guessing from my brief fifteen minutes of fame in the village, that this must be what it’s like to be a celebrity. If my celebrity status really takes off and spreads to say, two or three villages, maybe Sandy and I will soon be “Kandy” or even “Sate.”