We’re back in Malawi and have finally settled back into life here.
Our trip home was fantastic – plenty of time with family and friends – and plenty of food – I definitely ate too much as it was a perfect storm of holiday gorging and “I-never-get-this-in-Malawi-so-I’m-going-to-eat-the-whole-value-menu” scenario. Plus, being in the South – creamed corn means cream and some corn.
We had a long trip back to Malawi, but Ethiopian Airlines has new planes, so it all went smoothly and I slept comfortably, drooling – just a tiny bit on Sandy’s shoulder. What wasn’t smooth was the boarding process at the Addis airport. Our flight from Washington landed about 45 minutes late, which sent some of my fellow passengers into a complete freak-out as they tried to push their way through people, bags, babies, crumpled up blankets on the floor, to be the 153th person to disembark as opposed to the 158th person they would have been had they stayed in line. When we finally made it to our “Gate” for our flight to Lilongwe, it was actually a small mob of people (say, 600 or so) crowded around one small Ethiopian lady and her small computer (not small in a sleek, i-pad kind of way – small as in seemingly not up to the task). Her job was to call out the destination of the next departing flight as the crowd strained to hear her. It took a long time for Lilongwe to be called – and then we proceed through chaotic queuing (while randomly someone would shout in a panicked voice, “Accra? Where’s the plane to Accra?”), chaotic bus-boarding, and Sandy being told to leave his (not-oversized) carry-on right there on the curb. While we were sure we would never see it again, we eventually made it to Lilongwe, along with all of our bags!
I slept most of our drive home, through rainstorms, thunder, and green fields of maize. As we got closer to Blantyre, a beautiful double rainbow emerged as the clouds dissipated. It was a lovely welcome home.
Cathy and her daughter Bertha, our rock star housekeepers, had left us a welcome home note and welcome home flowers. Soche, the cat, ignored us for the first three days back, but is slowly forgiving us for having been gone so long. She can’t fool me, though, I know she likes Cathy and Bertha better than she likes me.
The fuel situation was about as bad as I’ve ever seen it when we got back – cars and trucks in double lines winding miles from the petrol stations in either direction. In the past week or so, though, things seem to have stabilized a bit – there were 8 petrol deliveries to Blantyre today!
The rainy season is in full swing – the maize is chest-high in most places and our yard has become a wild, green jungle. It’s overcast today but at least it’s not raining as it has for the past six days straight. It was lovely and cozy for the first few days of the deluge, but Sunday, when we also had no power all day, it was a bit dreary.
The only real drama has been that our car insurance expired while we were gone (we’d arranged for a friend to renew it and then forgot all about it). I got pulled over by an affable policeman who was absolutely delighted that he’d caught me in an infraction. I didn’t have the cash on me to pay the fine, so the policeman looked at me and said “ah, madam, what shall we do? I think I’d better keep your license.” He explained that when I came back to pay the fine, I could get the license back. Convinced, as I drove away, that I would never see my license again, I had to admit that 1) the policeman was unfailingly polite, and 2) he was absolutely correct in issuing a fine. Sandy went by the next day in a project vehicle and got it back. I’ve got to stop doubting! Luggage, licenses – things do turn up!
We’re happy to be back and are so looking forward to our next four months here. It will fly by, I am sure, and we’ll be sad to leave what feels like home.