Are we there yet? (August 2, 2007)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

We all met for breakfast at 7am. A buffet again. The only thing interesting and new I tried was passionfruit. I spread it over toast with a little apricot jam as it was quite bitter by itself. I purchased a few stamps with my rand and sent off the postcards. I kept a few rand for Bellina. At this point, I was still on the high of traveling and filled with enthusiasm for what was still to come.

We touched down at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Lilongwe, Malawi around 1pm. After an 18-hour flight, this 2 hour 15 minute flight seemed like nothing. Coming into Lilongwe there were fires all around. Whether intentional to burn garbage, controlled burns or just from the dry conditions I couldn’t tell. The airport is on a savannah and when we landed there was only one other commercial airplane at the airport.

After going through the passport area and claiming our luggage (only one turnstile in the airport) we were greeted by locals who had come to watch the planes land. Outside, our van driver for the week, Chi Chi, and a few other men loaded all of our luggage into the van. I honestly didn’t think it would all fit. It was a snug fit, but we were about to spend a lot of time together so it seemed like a good way to start the trip.

We headed to Annie’s Lodge in area 10 of Lilongwe, our home while in Malawi. The short drive to the lodge was eye opening as people walked along side the road barefoot and bundled in overcoat and scarf if they had one. It’s winter there in August, 50-70 degrees F. We saw a man on a bike with a bin of chickens on the back. At another point along the road, someone had slaughtered animals and had strung the bloody carcasses over a fire to roast. We drove by a rally with a sign that demanded a decrease in poverty from Parliament.

Annie’s Lodge was quite nice upon first seeing it. Lush courtyards, seating areas nestled under beautiful trees. When we got to the room it began to lose a bit of its charm, but I reminded myself of where I was and what I was here to do. The mosquito net hanging from the ceiling fan was a reminder that malaria was a threat. The bathroom was a toilet, sink, shower combo. We wouldn’t be using water from the sink as we were told to brush our teeth with bottled water. There was no hot water pressure (and there wouldn’t be the entire time we were there) in the shower. My roomie Krista and I found out that another traveler did have hot water so we ended up making a really great new friend!

We had some time together before dinner to enjoy some fellowship. Dinner for me was fried chicken (not breaded like in the US), fried potatoes (yummy) and a cabbage/tomato slaw (oops! I wasn’t supposed to eat the raw veggies. It doesn’t have any effect on me, but I don’t do it again) and a nice refreshing Coca-Cola in a glass bottle to wash it down. Ahhhh! Dinner cost about $3 or 500 Kwacha. We had Holy Communion together tonight. I read from the book of Matthew. It felt right after this long journey to be brought together in communion with each other, our new surroundings and the infinite love of God.

From my travel journal:

“I will have to say the journey getting here has been less draining than I thought. I am still being pushed forward by the anticipation of our work to be done here. I’m sitting on the porch in front of my room at Annie’s listening to the sounds of nature, maybe crickets, not sure. I hear voices of locals walking by. Annie’s is walled in on all sides and feels like a sanctuary with courtyards filled with palms and colorful plants, terra cotta floors that have been freshly swept and buffed.  The sky is clear and midnight blue- always my favorite color in the 64 pack of Crayolas. The stars don’t twinkle here but appear to emanate pure white light.”



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