Tag Archives: Rainy Season

And Back Again!

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.

Rain Clouds with tea in the foreground

Welcome home flowers!

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Top 10 Ways to Survive the Record-Breaking Heat

I am NOT going to complain about the heat.  Instead of complaining about 100+ degree temperatures and  a total lack of air conditioning, I’ve made a list of ways to have fun in this pre-rainy season oven we call Blantyre:

  1. Joke about how not hot it is.  Ex. “good thing we have a 4X4 car cause it looks like the snow might really come down this weekend!”  Seriously, this joke never gets old.   Everyone thinks it’s funny.
  1. Drink a chocolate bar straight from the wrapper – because it’s become a melted liquid mass of deliciousness.  Liquid Snickers is my favorite
  1. Hang your head out of the window when driving, like a dog, because the air conditioning in your car is broken.  It doesn’t look weird – promise – but be warned, according to official police documents you can technically be fined for having body parts outside of a moving vehicle.
  1. Line up at the bank (where they DO have air conditioning!).  A typical line will give you one hour of air con.  If you allow people to step ahead of you, you could potentially buy yourself two solid hours.  The downsides are that you have to stand the whole time and there are only so many ways to entertain yourself while standing in line at a bank.  I like to spend my time planning hypothetical robberies.
  1. Wait in a fuel queue!  Trust me, the one thing more frustrating than the weather is waiting for petrol/diesel when there are 79 cars, 34 trucks, 11 buses, and 2.3 million jerry cans in front of you.  It will definitely take your mind off the heat.
  1. Pretend that your towels are warm because you’re staying in a fancy hotel with a towel warmer,  instead of the fact that it’s so hot, the towels are absorbing and retaining the heat.  You can also have fun with hot sticky deodorant.  Pretend it’s an amazing new spa treatment.
  1. Go fan shopping.  It’s become a bit of a hobby for me – I now know the best hardware stores on Haile Selassie Blvd for fans, the best models, and that one should never, ever buy a fan from Game.  I don’t care how desperate you are.
  1. Bluff your way into swimming at the local high school’s pool.  Yeah, you’re totally a teacher, if anyone asks.
  1. Go to a movie at the air conditioned cinema – I’m not even going to tell you what I went to see last weekend, but I will admit that Selena Gomez was starring and I brought up the average age of movie viewers by about 12 years.  Ok, 17 years.
  1. Drive into town and rent a room at a hotel with air conditioning and drink gin and tonics – that’s what they did in The Great Gatsby, right?  Oh wait!  There’s a tonic shortage.  Guess we’ll just have to drink beer til it runs out too!

So don’t feel too sorry for us – the rains will come soon and in the meantime, we have plenty of liquid chocolate and the challenge of finding new mixers for gin.

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They call it rainy season for a reason.

When we woke up this morning it was raining.  Later in the day it was still raining.  In the afternoon, it poured rain.  Sandy and I entertained ourselves with a photo contest, taking pictures out of our windows.  The top two are posted here, feel free to vote for the winner.  We realize the bar is pretty low here.

Cathy came and started to work on the apartment.  She is lovely -very small, and full of joy and personality.   It was a little disconcerting to sit back and play cards with Sandy while she worked so hard. We tried to offer her lunch or at least tea, which she accepted.

Around four, the rain finally stopped.  A different Malawian guy came by and picked us up to take us to the airport to see if our bags had arrived as was promised.  It was a beautiful drive and really my first view of Blantyre aside from the strip mall.  The city is surrounded by mountains.  The big rain clouds were clearing out and the scenery was a vibrant green.

The Blantyre airport is even smaller than the one in Lilongwe. We had a coke at the bar and watched the tiny prop plane land.  We guessed then that the bags weren’t on it – it probably couldn’t have taken off if they had been.   Still we waited hopefully by the baggage carousel and watched jealously as others were happily reunited with their bags. Our kind driver helped us negotiate the system, making friends with the baggage people who promised our bags would be there the next day.

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