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Published: September 19th 2008
Don't worry I was usually sprinting...this just happened to be taken during a break.
Dear all, I could not be more sorry for the horrendous delay in blog postings. My beloved Sony Vaio crashed about 5 weeks ago, so I have had no access to any of my journals or photos! Luckily, most or all of my data has finally been recovered (yes, even laptop repair here progresses at a pace akin to that of the Malawi government), so I can finally start putting blogs up again.
So where were we? Back in June. Sometime around the first week of the month I went out with my Finnish colleague Anne and some of her friends to celebrate her birthday; we went to an Indian restaurant that has since become my favorite place to eat out on special occasions. It’s so tastefully decorated you would think you were in NYC or something (well…almost!). That night I ordered mutton “malwani” (cooked with coconut “in a delicious taste”) and have been hooked ever since.
The following Tuesday we had our first refugee camp information session, in which we explained to the camp community leaders (each nationality within the camp elects leaders) the process of refugee status determination (RSD). There is a lot of confusion in the
I told you I was running.
camp regarding RSD; specifically, there are suspicions that some nationalities are favored for refugee status over others, and that there isn't any point in going through the RSD process because decisions take such a long time. So we did our best to explain away a lot of the misconceptions; after all, RSD is an individualized process—every case is judged on its own merits, regardless of nationality. It was a really good first meeting, though it made us realize just how uninformed most people are in the camp. So we plan to hold such meetings once a month, with the leaders and with new arrivals.
The biggest development since the last blog, however, is that in late May I joined a women’s football team. Yes yes, I know, most of you are ROFL. But anyway
, several of my colleagues and friends are on the team so I decided to go for it. We mostly just kick around soccer balls on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, but we have a coach so it’s semi-official. Little did I know when I joined, the team’s inaugural game—yes, meaning the team’s first ever real game against another actual, real team—was to be held about two
Third from top left is Anne, and directly below me is Hildaboth my colleagues. In the center is Leonour adorable coach :)
weeks after my first practice! Not only that, but this was to be an international tournament: our opposing team was coming all the way from northern Mozambique, just to play us
. So as not to disappoint them completely, we quickly put together a team name: the Lilongwe Women’s Football Club, and had some t-shirts printed. The Mozambican ladies were due to arrive on a Friday night, so we proposed having a braai
(that would be Afrikaans for bar-b-cue to you) to welcome them after their long trip. (As you may recall from my adventures last summer with Eva, northern Mozambique has no paved roads! My butt still gets sore just thinking about it.) I would estimate that there are about 15 or 16 women on our team (none of whom had ever played goalie before, mind you)—when their team showed up, there were at least thirty of them, plus their entourage (yes, they had an entourage!). We were feeling a little intimidated but a good time was had by all, despite the fact that communication was next to impossible; grilled meat and cold sodas seemed to work fine as a form of diplomacy.
The next morning, a hot one,
After the game
See how my face is red and my hair looks sweaty? That's proof that I was running.
we met at the Lilongwe Golf Club to warm up and try on our new LWFC t-shirts for the first time. As we were preparing to enter the field, we heard women’s voices singing loudly from a distance. The singing was getting closer and closer…sure enough, a huge bus pulled up filled with all our Mozambican counterparts from the night before, all wearing proper, matching soccer uniforms and cleats, and all chanting fearlessly (about how they would whoop our butts, no doubt). We became slightly intimidated, but reassured ourselves by silently repeating our mantra: It's not about winning or losing; we’re just here to have fun. Plus, we had accumulated something of an entourage ourselves…well, there was a boyfriend here and there, and one random guy with a huge pick-up who parked it right on the field and started a proper tailgate! He left the motor running so he could blast sports anthems to get us motivated—think AC/DC, Queen, and—I kid you not—the theme from Chariots of Fire. He had a braai going and a cooler full of beers. It was pretty hilarious.
I won’t bore you with the details of the 70 minute game—nor could I, really, since
I don’t have the faintest idea what happened myself, having hardly watched let alone played football before in my life. I do
know that despite our two bravehearted goalies’ best efforts, we lost 6-0. Then, the victors did a tour of the field with a huge Mozambican flag, while we...watched. But really, it was a truly exciting, fun day, despite the fact that during my one shining moment, when I had a chance to really kick the ball (toward the person who could actually kick it in the goal), I kicked it in the opposite direction. Afterwards we all—both teams, our coaches, and their entourage—headed to Chameleon’s, a super overrated expat bar, to watch the Czech Republic kick Switzerland’s butt in the Euro cup on a big screen. It was the first time I really enjoyed watching a soccer game…after that I think I attended almost every Euro cup match that was on! (In Africa we were lucky to be on the same time zone so the games were around 8pm.)
On Sunday I woke up early to head to Senga Bay, the point on the lake nearest to Lilongwe. It’s about an hour-and-a-half drive on very good roads,
Another post-game shot
At the lovely Lilongwe Golf Club.
through very hilly terrain. On day trips, the drive back around dusk is stunning. There are several spots to sunbathe in Senga Bay but this time we headed for the Livingstonia hotel, a very upscale hotel that allows people to use their beach for free (which is nice because they have comfy beach chairs).
I had to be back in Lilongwe by 6:30pm for a very important appointment: I was adopting my kitty! Sunday evening was her official move-in date. It took me a while to find an appropriate name for her: at the time of her adoption she was called Felix because her original owners had (somehow?) mistaken her for a male cat. I didn’t like that at all and spent a good two months searching for the right name. I tried names in Chichewa (the Malawian language), Swahili, Kinyarwanda…but it wasn’t until my German roommate moved in that I finally found something that fit. Much to Dalia's consternation, it is totally grammatically incorrect and not
at all as she taught me—but it’s much cuter this way. Introducing: Schuren Niaffenzegen! (Or, purring little annoying person.)
Ok that’s all for now, I will add a new post every
few days from now on or I will never catch up before I leave!
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