I can't believe I finally made it. Truthfully, that journey and those 4 plane rides are a blur because of how long and how tired my body is/was. It's all worth it.
I just love Africa so much! The sights, sounds, smells, foods are all so familiar and something I have loved and longed for. Malawi is much like my dear Kenya, however, I feel much safer here. The poverty is great, much greater than imagined until seen....but I don't see the inequality of rich to poor like in Kenya. I think this makes people less desperate and Malawi lives up to it's name, "the warm heart of Africa". I feel very safe!
In the last 48 hours, the following happened:
- I flew into a very small airport in Malawi....very small. A sweet girl who was a passport or customs agent noticed I was alone and in the back of the line. We made small talk and she instantly became my friend. This led to her sweeping me to the front of the line and right through where they stamp your passport and get your visa....without stamping my passport or giving me a visa. For some reason I don't think that is allowed. Despite her generosity, I ended up waiting through the line - I guess I didn't want to get arrested and deported for some reason.
- Our guide and BFI worker Calvin (the nicest man on earth!!) picked me up at the airport. He had a giant sign for me waiting and I kind of felt like a big deal. The look of relief on his face was pretty great when he realized I actually made it. Poor thing waited FOREVER for me - thanks to the customs incident. I was so exhausted by this time from my flight, but so excited to see Llongwe. He was so kind and so excited to show me his city. We went to the grocery store and then walked through the markets...and the red light district. They call it Devil Street...this may have been the only time I got a little nervous. The sights and sounds of the market and yelling out "Muzungu!!! Muzungu!!! (white person) How are you?! How are you?!" brought back a giant flood of memories. How I love this place. I'm quite the spectacle I tell you. However, in the city they are a little more used to Muzungus. Calvin was very, very, grateful that I have learned through my travels, believe it or not, how to say "no" kindly, not give money to every beggar, and not get jerked around. He said, "I feel so much better that a muzungu knows how to deal with the city. It's very stressful usually!" I'm grateful too. Eventually after a lot of walking and traveling he noticed my yawning and exhaustion. He took me to the hotel and I completely passed out and slept for a good 5 hours. My poor legs and feet were soooo swollen from the flight and my heart. Sitting for that long in a cramped place is not chill. I have never been so happy to stretch out and sleep!
- Much to my surprise and hilarity, I am staying at Korea Garden Lodge....in Malawi. I didn't know there were very many Asians in Malawi! Haha.
- I am not sure what my expectations were of the hotel, but all I can say is that I am brave. It is pretty funny, despite many third work excursions, to figure out my room, the shower, and the bed...or lack thereof. I was glad I had to take off my glasses in the shower room so I didn't have to see what was around me. The windows are all open all the time with a little curtain and the walls are so thin I can hear EVERY single word and well...deed...in every room. Thank goodness for Ambien. There are gold, silver, and bronze rooms. I am in the bronze haha...and 21 dollars later I have a place to stay! I could even hear Malawians come to see the rooms to decide if they would lodge there and they even rejected my room...hilarious. I love every minute of it truly!
- I accidentally blew up my surge protector. Like almost started a fire, blew up... sparks, smoke...the whole shebang. No pun intended.
- I ended up needing to stay an extra night at Korea Garden because of transportation. I will meet up with my group at the school later - I'm kind of glad for the extra time to rest and just chill. I think people are pretty surprised to see a young girl alone in the city. I've gotten to know all the waiters and house keeping! American candy and an easy name (because of the Chelsea Soccer/Futbol team...everyone knows and remembers it) goes a long way. I love getting to know them and everyone is so friendly.
Life is so good! Right now the wifi is much better than I thought and I am thinking in the city and even at SAFI I will have pretty good connection. Pictures might be hard except for Facebook and Instagram every once in a while.
Well, more adventures later! Can't wait to meet up with my team tomorrow!