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Published: January 18th 2013
Eating nsima with Liz
Mum's first time eating nsima
After a year, I'm back in Malawi!
And I'm very happy to be here.
It has been wonderful to catch up with everyone here in Malawi, after not seeing them for a year. And it feels nice to be back in this environment, where there is so much going on, so much to see, listen to, people to talk to...
Mum and I arrived in Zambia two weeks ago now and stayed in Lusaka for our first couple of days. We spent an afternoon with my friend Liz and her family, who I stayed with when I visited Lusaka last year. It was great to see them all again!
However, while we were there, it rained really heavily for about 4 hours, so when we finally left to go home, the ground outside had become a huge, sticky, slippery mud pool. It took us a very, very long time to walk back to the main road through the mud and we must have looked very stupid, sliding all over the place, with our legs covered in mud!
Mud has definitely become an almost everyday occurrence here - it's rainy season and generally rains very heavily for
a few hours each day, which makes the roads all turn into mud. We're becoming very skilled mud-walkers!
After a very long 11 hour bus trip from Lusaka, which began at 5am, we arrived in Lilongwe to the smiling face of Gabbie.
It was so nice for me to be back in Lilongwe, in a place that I was familiar with and with people I knew.
Mum and I spent our first week staying with Gabbie in Area 23, which is an area that sees very, very few white people. There are about 7 small kids staying in the house in front of Gabbie's house and they get so excited when we're there. They even run out to perform songs and dances near his house sometimes. They also like to stand outside and stare at us through the doorway. We're also constantly followed by the word 'azungu', which means white people. So many people yell it at us - it's actually really annoying and I can't wait to not hear that word for a very long time!
Living in that area provides lots of interesting and unique experiences though, that most tourists wouldn't get:
Struggling on the way back from Liz's house
• I had my hair washed at a hair salon, where I wasn't sure if my hair would still be in my head when it was over, because the hairdresser pulled it so hard!
• We're living in a house with no electricity so we're normally in bed by 9pm and up by 6am, which is very, very different to my normal routine of going to bed at midnight and getting up at 8am!
• I've been waging war on the cockroaches and ants in Gabbie's house - I've discovered that I'm not a fan of insects, especially when they're in the house and crawling over my clothes, shoes, food, etc. I'm getting very good at filling in ant holes in the floor with candle wax!
• We're eating a lot of nsima and rice, which we cook over a charcoal stove outside.
• We're now regulars on the bus routes into town from Area 23 and all the guys at the market and minibuses recognise us and know where we should be going. Everyone here knows our business. There's very little privacy, especially for a white person!
• We can
Alf, who I was surrogate mum to last year when he was brought to the centre as an orphan
get all the food we need for the 3 of us to eat dinner for about 250 kwacha, which is around 70 cents. We're very good at knowing how much things should cost now and know when people are trying to charge us the 'azungu' price.
During our time in Lilongwe, we spent about 6 weeks helping at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, where I volunteered in 2011. It was really nice for me to be back there and see all of my friends and the animals again. We spent 3 days helping with the Wild Kidz camp, did some food preparation and feeding for the animals and went on a trip to an orphanage.
After that Mum and I went to stay at a lodge just south of a lakeside town called Nkhotakota. We were the only people staying there so we got amazing service, with our dinner table decorated with a tablecloth, candles, flowers and fancy dinner settings.
We spent our time walking along the beach, hiding from the rain and going into Nkhotakota to go on a short historical tour. Nkhotakota was previously the slave trade centre in Malawi. Arab slave traders came by
boat from Tanzania to transport Malawian slaves to Tanzania, where they were then shipped off to the Arab countries. Very horrible, but fascinating to see.
After Nkhotakota we headed back to Lilongwe for a night and were meant to go to South Luangwa National Park in Zambia the next day for safari, only to be delayed by one wall of Gabbie's house partially falling down.
There were really heavy rains on Thursday night, which caused a building next to his house to collapse onto his house. Mum got a nice shower of plaster and mud brick over her and her bed...
So we stayed in Lilongwe the next day so the builders could take down the wall and rebuild it, which they did in less than 3 hours!
Saturday, we finally headed off on safari.
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