One day in Chintheche I woke up to see the sun rise...it was worth it
First of all, apologies that the blog has been severely neglected since our placement came to an end. It’s hard to believe that this journey has come full circle, and we are now homeward bound. I’ve been in London for almost two weeks, coming straight from Malawi, while Eric and Lauren stopped over in Nairobi. Tomorrow Eric and I go back home and Lauren goes to Newcastle to visit her family. While I am sitting here on my last night, reflecting on the last six weeks and not quite knowing what to make of it all, I found a post that I wrote on one of my last days in Lilongwe and never put up. I will post that here, as it seems to sum up our last chunk of time in Malawi.
Yesterday I visited the Natural History Museum and came across petrified tree bark. When a tree dies the wood usually rots, but under certain conditions the plant tissue may be replaced by minderals and it turns to stone. I don’t know why, but I find something rather poignant about that fact. While it is undoubtedly cliche to say, this trip was truly life-changing…Something unexpected happened, and I haven’t yet been able to figure out what it was. Maybe that will happen as life goes on and Ntchito Yabwino becomes ancient history…and maybe it won’t.
Thank you for coming along on our journey with us. I hope we were able to convey a little bit of the magic through our writing and photographs. Here is my un-posted post:
Ntchito Yabwino is OVER. We can speak simple Chechewa, have finally learned the directions to our house in Falls and are pinching our last few kwatcha- time to go home. Our last day of work was on Friday- after presenting a power point to the staff at CPAR Malawi about the outcomes of our placement, we were taken out for a lovely lunch. On Monday we leave for a 4 day safari in Zambia, and then we’re off for a short stint in London before heading home.
Sorry that we were lazy with blogging the last few days in Chintheche. To summarize, we got sick in rotation (it was bound to happen eventually…), and I ended up back at Chintheche Rural Hospital as a patient rather than a visitor. Let me just say that I have a whole new appreciation for the health care system in Canada. All I wanted were some antibiotics. To get them, I had to walk through a room full of sick people waiting to see one doctor. That was the first and only time I had been without my fellow Mzungus, and it was incredibly overwhelming to feel like crap and stick out like a sore thumb. To make matters worse, I felt awful that I could just walk in and see the doctor relatively quickly. After I was finally able to make the doctor understand that it was my throat that was sore, I lost it when he asked me how long it had been that way and exclaimed “three YEARS?!?” I burst into tears as I replied, “No, three days!” While I didn’t handle myself with quite as much composure as I would have hoped, after two months in Malawi, I guess one emotional outburst ain’t too shabby.
We had a surprise visitor at the office on our last day of communications training- after hearing some commontion on the lawn, we looked out the window to see a man running around talking to himself. After a closer look, we were able to confirm that yes, that man definately has no pants on. Luckily, Allan, a CPAR Malawi Project Officer, quickly took charge of the situation- there’s nothing more intimidating than a Project Officer with a broom in one hand and a communications training manual in the other…it was a priceless moment that, unfortunately, we were unable to caputre in photo.
As for our placement now being over, I have mixed feelings. I am excited to go home because when I am here, I am so far away from the people I love. At the same time, when I am home I am so far away from what has been an incredible experience. I am most scared of forgetting what it FEELS like to be here- if only photos could capture that. When I reflect back on all we have experienced in the past two months, there are certain small moments that stand out: having lunch in a village chief’s hut on our first day in the field; dancing our hearts out at an all-locals club; enjoying family BBQs on lazy Saturday afternoons; showering newlyweds with kwatcha to the beat of popular African music at a wedding; watching the cows cross the beach each morning at Flame Tree Lodge; playing beach volleyball with locals at Kande; and an afternoon cooking lesson on how to prepare traditional dishes. There are so many wonderful memories to choose from, and I owe many of them to the friends that we have made here. I will never forget your kindness and generosity towards three clueless Mzungus.