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Life in an African Village

December 11, 2011

So the questions that I most often hear are along the lines of how is it different on a day-to-day basis.  The short answer is that everything just takes a whole lot longer to accomplish and isn’t quite as efficient the US.   Here is a brief rundown of the adjustments and accommodations that I am now accustomed to (and sorry for all of that alliteration).

The view from my windows now consists of animals grazing and roaming freely around the village. They do not pin their animals until the planting season when they need to protect their crops.

This is my temporary house. It consists of two rooms one that has my bed and one that has a table and that’s it. But I am surprisingly comfortable here. When I was staying with the head teachers family, I had no control over what or when I ate, no say in when or how often I needed to bafa (bathe) and limited control over when I went to sleep and when I woke up (they bring their chickens inside at night, it is very hard to ignore a rooster crowing in the next room at 4ish in the morning).

The air conditioning of my house consists of a stick propping a window open to let in the breeze and let out the stifling hot air that is generated by the tin roof which essentially makes my low-ceilinged house an oven (new place has 12+ ft ceilings)

And this is my entertainment center and wet bar. I can listen to the BBC if I miss Engrish and want to catch up on world news (that is 90% African news and 10% football, cricket and rugby although that is how I found out the Steve Jobs had died). From my wet bar you can get potable water which can be made into various flavored Kool-aids if desired. Behind the wet bar is my medicine cabinet.

And this is my decorative lighting. In addition to this Coke bottle, I have a Fanta lamp and a Jack Daniels lamp.

This is my mbaula (charcoal burner). It is Very important to me. It is my hot water heater, my coffee maker, my space heater, my stove, my disinfector and my ash maker (helps keep away the flies).

And lastly, the most important tool in any home in Malawi, the bucket. They come in multiple shapes and sizes and a multitude of colors. They are used for carry water on your head (yeah, I real quick found someone that I could pay to do that for me), washing dishes, doing laundry, taking a bafa. They even come with spigots, so I set myself up a sink.

August 24, 2011

So I am officially a PCV as of August 16th! And I have discovered that the most important thing about living in Malawi is to be fluid. I have gone from teaching Math to Physical Science to Biology. I think that the Biology is going to stick as classes start on September 5th. I am also currently homeless, but it is totally worth it as my school is working on completing a brand new house for me which should be done in October sometime and it is bwana!

Don’t have a lot of time, but to sum up training….hectic. There were classes in Chichewa, teaching and classroom management, safety and security, medical sessions and how to live without all the modern conveniences that America has to offer. But by the time training was over, I was ready to be at site and the freedom that it provides in terms of getting to choose when and what I eat e.g.

Things that I love about being in Malawi—The night sky. The stars are amazing without all of the light pollution and when the moon is full you don’t need flashlights to see. The weather. My site is in the central region and is actually cool in the winter time. I know that hot weather is still in store for me, but I have been basking in the autumn like weather here while it lasts. Mango season. It is just starting, but mangos are everywhere here. At its peak apparently I will be eating mangos with every meal, and I don’t have a problem with that in the slightest. I am learning how to dry fruit just so that I can have dried mango slices. Yummmmmm.
I will upload some pictures later when I have time to take over a computer for hours.

Two Weeks to Go!

June 2, 2011

I have defended my thesis and will officially be couch surfing at my family and friends houses as of this weekend. For the first time I am homeless, but it is a good thing. It has been very cathartic to find new homes for all of my furniture and electronics, decluttering and determining what is actually important to me and what is worth saving.

Now it is time to start packing for my departure. I find it amusing that for just about everything that I have gotten rid of, I have purchased a smaller more compact version that is ‘camping friendly’. I am getting rid of my mattress and am replacing it with a sleeping bag and ground pad. My cds have been transferred to an external hard drive and my music uploaded to my ipod.

The girl who only wears jeans, has lots of 40s era dresses that are appropriate for teachers, but still have the pockets to carry my devices and belts to compensate for the weight loss that will come with lots of walking and a lack of refrigeration.

This weekend will be the test. My pack has arrived and my suitcase and daypack are ready to be organized with stuff sacks filled with all the stuff on the Malawi packing list along with some of my own ideas, which include a camping tea kettle (I have to have coffee) and aluminum foil. I guesstimate that I am packing about 50 lbs worth of stuff and 30 lbs worth of food. If I could I would aim for 50:50 as I will greatly miss the variety of foods that urban living has to offer.

I will post a follow up once I am packed with my list and comments, as that is what I have found myself searching for the most the past couple of weeks to help me prepare.

Hello world!

July 26, 2010

Despite being an engineer, I am technologically challenged (makes you wonder about the stability of the building you’re in huh?) so this will take me some time to figure out.  Hopefully I will be a WordPress master before I leave for the PeaceCorps next June.  That way I will be able to keep everyone updated on my  life in Africa.

In the meantime, I will be posting whatever pops into my head that allows me to experiment with all the features that are available.

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