Malawi-Day Six

I didn’t actually get the chance to journal about August 3 until I was on the plane home… which is probably a good thing because I was so exhausted and in a bad mood that day.

My buddy, Maliko and his mom, Angelina

August 3

Today was the day that we met our buddies and their families and took them to the first hotel.  We woke up really early—0530—to make sure that we would be ready to go when the kids arrived.  The kids started to show up at 630 and each time a bus would pull up we formed a gauntlet to welcome them.  We wanted the children to feel very excited and like they were celebrities… the way they made us feel when we would enter a village.  After we all met our buddies we grabbed some breakfast, loaded in the buses and left.

I was so nervous to meet Maliko; he is 24 with Down’s Syndrome and since they tend to be very sexual, I was really unsure how it would go.  Fortunately, Maliko was not at all touchy-feely throughout the trip, so that was one thing I could relax about.  Angelina, Maliko and I sat in the back row of our bus with Tadala, our translator.  Neither Angelina nor Maliko understand English except for the word “good”, so it was very quiet at first.  Nicole was one row in front of us and it was a good thing because she ended up starting our first conversation.  I learned that Maliko is 24, not 20 as I was previously told, and that he is the youngest of Angelina’s 11 children.  Apparently he doesn’t really have any hobbies or chores, but he does like to watch soccer and dance.  He can be really funny and likes to say “Up, up, Jesus!  Down, down, Devil!” when he’s in a good mood.  He also said that he likes airplanes and trains, but I’d be willing to bet that we would have a hard time getting him on either.

While riding the bus we discovered that he is a major klepto.  Michael give him his jacket before we left because he said that he was cold, and then he also wanted a hat, so we ended up finding him two.  He also tried to take my jacket, camera, scarf, etc.  When I asked if he went to school and was told no, he wanted a pen and paper to draw on so Nicole let him use her journal and pen, but he does not understand the concept of borrowing.  He immediately put the pen and paper in his jacket pocket as if they were his.  He liked pointing out his new white socks and was big on picking dirt off of his clothes.  He kept asking for my jacket, but I knew I wouldn’t get it back, so I kept telling him no.

The drive was soooo long!  And we were packed in like sardines.  The ride ended up being much longer than anticipated because of various checkpoints (similar to tolls) where the police would see that we were white and demand a higher toll or keep us longer for who knows what reason.  Once we got to the area near the safari camp, our caravan split up with two buses going to the hotel and two going to the camp.  Our two buses (safari) didn’t eat lunch until about 4pm when we finally got to Mvuu camp.  But to get to the camp we had to drive for 50 minutes down the worst road ever.  Literally.  We were bouncing around like pinballs in a pinball machine and it was so crowded that I was surprised no one got sick.

On a sidenote, we did get to see a {very} little of Mozambique.  One of the roads that we were on was on the border of the two countries and on one side you were in Malawi and on the other you were in Mozambique.  Then at one point the Malawi side of the road was under construction, so we had to drive in Mozambique for about 10 minutes.  We were all happy to get back to Malawi because the road was much better.  🙂

Once we finally arrived (we all said a big “Praise the Lord!!”), we had to get onto boats to take us across the river.  Angelina and I ended up having to leave Maliko with Steve because the boat was full and we were having a hard time getting him on anyway.  It turns out that he gave Steve a really hard time, too, and Steve tried to bribe him with 1000 kwacha but he still wouldn’t get on.  Eventually Steve had to pick him up and put him on the boat.  I felt so badly for Steve because he lost his money and Maliko is really heavy!

We were able to eat a really nice lunch of juicy chicken, rice and veggies after we all crossed the river.  But, by that time it was almost dark so it would have been pointless to do the safari, so Sid said that we all (including the 2 buses that went right to the hotel) would come back the next day for the safari.  So, after about a 1.5 hour break from the bus, we climbed back on to go to the hotel.  Honestly, driving on that road was one of the most awful experiences of my life.  The Malawian women really did a good job of keeping spirits up though by singing.  They sounded so beautiful.

When we got back to the hotel everyone on the bus needed ibuprofen or arnica because we were so stiff and sore from that terrible road and being cramped on the bus.  Dinner was ready, too, but I was so far from hungry that I just got Angelina and Maliko settled with their meals.

After dinner the whole group met up to give out room keys and instructions for the next morning for those of us who had just arrived.  Everyone was completely exhausted.  Once Angelina and Maliko got their key I took them to their room, and with the help of a translator, showed them the bathroom, soap, their beds, etc.  Some of the other girls said that they had to show the families how to use the toilet and that they needed to sleep on the bed (not the floor) and to use the covers.  I still have a hard time grasping that most of the families have never left their villages, seen (much less, used) a real toilet, or slept in a real bed.

Once the Malawians were settled, we regrouped to talk about the next day.  All of the safari plans were up in the air, but I think that I was so tired that I didn’t care.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  Our room was really nice, but all of the hotels we stayed in had paper thin walls and used tile everywhere, so it was still pretty noisy.

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One thought on “Malawi-Day Six

  1. I love that you are sharing your journal entries. They are like teasers for the next day. It is a great reminder of how richly we have been blessed – that a bed, toilet, food for each meal are great blessings. Keep sharing!

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