I am exhausted and don’t have the best of attitudes right now. I am feeling (and often acting) very selfishly. I can’t wait to go home and I feel like I’m never going to want to participate in a trip like this again.
On the other hand, these families are being given the trip of a lifetime. We went on safari today (which almost didn’t happen) and watching Angelina’s face was priceless. Maliko had a good time, too, but I don’t think he was paying as much attention. We saw lots of impala and warthogs, many (many) baboons, and water bucks. But the highlight for me was seeing the elephants.
There was a small family of elephants by the river that we watched for about ten minutes, and there was a (sorta) little calf that was so cute! At one point, one of the elephants started to take down a tree. It was so amazing to see them in their natural environment and not at Disney. Only a few hundred yards from the elephants were hippos, which were only a few hundred feet away from crocodiles! The park also had a fenced off area that contained rhinos, zebras, and leopards. Apparently those animals are new to the park and they wait until they have reproduced enough to be sustainable before releasing them to the rest of the park. I wish that we could have seen them, though. Also, they have about five lions but they weren’t visible today. Apparently it’s rare to see them.
We got up early again this morning and saw a gorgeous sunrise, and then headed of to the safari after breakfast. Originally (well, not really, but because of changing plans), only Malawians were going to go on safari today and Azungus would stay behind because the safari company didn’t think they could accommodate all of us (there were around 70). Thankfully, everyone was able to go and we were done at a reasonable time and able to get on the road again to go to Lake Malawi quickly. But the road to and from the safari—oh that road!!! It is so awful!!! Constant bouncing and bumping for 16 km in a van with 19 people squished together; everyone was so sore afterward and our van went over the road four terrible times between last night and today. No one really complained, the kids were good, and no one got sick. We did do a lot of singing to keep our spirits up.
We made it to Lake Malawi this afternoon and it was absolutely amazing to see Angelina and Maliko’s faces when the caught first sight. They were so excited! Many of the families, Angelina and Maliko included, have never left their village before, so that has opened a whole new world for them! Some of the kids (and adults) had never used a toilet before and listening to Kay talk about how she had to show her sponsored child how to use it was eye opening. Also, a large number of the families have really awful hygiene habits; i.e. no showers, no handwashing, no brushing teeth, etc. I know it’s not their fault, they just don’t have access to water in their homes, a toilet, or even regular access to soap. I can’t imagine what they are feeling right now.
When we got to the hotel (beautiful, by the way) we got everyone settled in and then met for club. Our translator, Tadala, was so excited when she got to volunteer for a game; I tried to get a picture for her but my camera didn’t take. 😦 I think Maliko was so tired that he wasn’t feeling up to participating. He tends to be a bump on a log when we do things as a big group. Afterward we went to dinner.
Mealtimes can be a little frustrating. The villagers have a tendency to pile their plates to the sky and then there’s no food (or rather, very little) for the rest of us. It’s largely a cultural thing because at home in the villages they don’t know when their next meal will be, so they eat as much as they can when they have the opportunity. I just don’t think that they understand that we are not going to let them go hungry while they are with us and that they can slow down… we’re hungry, too! A few people have tried to explain that they don’t need to take quite so much, but it hasn’t really seemed to help.
After dinner the kids did an activity while the support team talked to the parents. It was good, but, God forgive me, I was so tired and grumpy that I just didn’t want to be there. I haven’t slept well since leaving home, so I really hope that I get some good zzzz’s tonight.