We woke to another lovely morning on the shores of Lake Malawi. Today we would make the long drive back to Blantyre to get ready to get back to work.
Rodney was preparing breakfast for us while we enjoyed the peaceful start to the day. I suddenly realised that I was really missing music on this trip as I had been reading updates about the CCMA country music awards week I am missing back home. I decided to grab my phone and headphones and go into my own space for a bit. Of course, there's always a few that have to comment about how they HATE country music and will listen to anything but....(Sigh) Good news! I'm wearing headphones and don't have a set for you! I honestly don't know why people need to suck the joy out of other people's pleasure. If you don't like something, that's fine but sometimes using your inside voice is the right thing to do. Just be happy for someone that they have something that makes them happy even if it's not your thing.
Like water off a duck's back, I let it go and headed down to the shore to slip into my music by the water. Xander came and joined me and asked about my music so I let him listen in. Apparently, I listen to my music to loud for him but he like everything from Jake Owen to Bon Joiv To AC/DC to Eric Church to The Proclaimers To Maren Moris.
We were also awaiting the arrival of some wood carving we had ordered the day before. The day before we had ordered a bunch of small carving from some of the street vendors. Ordering all together meant that we had a bulk order and could negociate a better price. It also meant that they had to work together to get the order finished and share the profits. Win-Win. We even gave them an advance of the payment as they needed to buy wood to complete the order. Fair enough. When they showed up with the order though, they had gotten it wrong....like almost 1/3 wrong. They were very professional about it though, they had us show them what was missing, let us keep what was right, wouldn't let us pay anything more and promised to have it corrected and delivered by the time we had to leave in the morning.
They came through on every point. Excellent business men and we even bought a few more things as we loaded up the van.
It was about 5 hours of driving to Blantyre and we were going to take a slightly different route this time. We needed to get back in time to get some shopping done for the next few days.
On the drive, Cathy took the co-pilot seat as she had some problems with the fumes on the last trip. No problem, I've done the back of cargo vans before and slid in beside Sara.
A few minute into the ride, we stopped at a pharmacy to see if we could get a few more pills of the medication for the parasite in Lake Malawi as we weren't sure that everyone who went swimming had enough for the proper dose.
We walked into the reception and Bryan and I asked if they had anymore in stock. The lady at the front desk said we would have to speak to the physician. She walked to the back and we were escorted into the doctor's office. He said that he didn't have any but we had the name from when Bryan got them yesterday and that is all we need to get them from a pharmacy. I was curious about how easy it was to breach protocol here so I asked him if I could have a RX for them just in case. Bryan said that wasn't necessary and left but I said I would like one if he didn't mind. The doctor said no problem asked my name and age( did not ask for id to prove it but I did SPELL my name for him and give him the wrong age)
TA-DA- this is what I got
Now I am totally going to try and fill this to see how easy that is.
As we walked out, I notice that there were 3 people waiting that we had just been escorted past and seen first. It reminded me of the other night when we were discussing taking the young man with the foreign body to the hospital. I had asked Cathy if one of us should go with him. She said that she didn't know how as Bryan and I would both be busy at the clinic and no one else knew what to explain. She said Xander would have to do it. Xander spoke up saying No, he NEEDED someone to go. If he went by himself they would wait for HOURS but if a white person went in with them, they would get seen immediately. I was horrified. I explained to Xander that in Canada, it would be the exact OPPOSITE. If a Canadian went into the hospital with their healthcare card, they get seen first. If an foreigner with an minority skin colour came in, they would wait....well based on triage of course. But still......white priviledge sadly reigns in an African country where they are the minority. SAD.
Back to the van, we were on the road to "home". I went back to my little music world to let the time pass by.
Sara tapped me and asked," What do you think the big mounds of dirt are for?"
I replied "Ants"
Sara: No, no. The big tall ones. 7-8ft."
I looked her straight in the eye. "This is Africa. Those are ANT HILLS" She stared at me in disbelief! NO! I can take a picture and google it but I'm pretty sure I'm right. Sara then turned to Janet to confirm.....YUP definitely ant hills!
Our drive took us through several little villages and this is where I see the marked difference between Malawi and other developing countries I have been to-the housing. In the Caribean or Central American, you will see houses in the barrios built out of scraps from the dumps. Sheet metal, cardboard, old wood/plywood....whatever they can find. But here, they are are almost always brick or cement. The different levels of income is noticeable in the roof-whether it is still thatched or upgrade to steel.
Also each area seems to have develped a specialty of craftmanship. We will go through stretches of villages that have wood carving out for sale. Today there was a lot of weaving, rugs, baskets and hats.
The long van ride on rough roads with crater sized pot-hole took a toll onn everyone, but for my first day in the back, about an hour into the ride, my head was letting me know that this had been a bad mistake. Between the vibrations of the floor coming right up my spine into the base of my brain causing a migraine to build. I shift my feet several ways but that caused the etreminity numbness that is a side effect of my other meds to act up so now my hands and feet felt like that pin pricking feeling you get when your limbs are falling asleep. I didn't want to be the princess that needed special treatment, we had enough of that going on sometimes so I needed to suck it up and not let the trip get the best of me. I tried to sleep to ignore the waves of nausea and dizziness that came over me and took deep breaths. This was my own fault, I should have had my meds closer or taken them before. I had never been so glad to see the city limits. There were 3 things that people wanted to purchase. I had hoped to get to a fabric store, Bryan wanted coffee and the rest were going to do groceries. I suggested that we separate and do drop offs to be efficient but really I could then slip my medication quietly and no one needed to know and I would feel better by the time the van got back. Unfortunately, both the fabric store and the coffee place were closed so we were all going to the supermarket. I knew I couldn't deal with that. I sent the group in with the excuse that I needed to walk and get some fresh air then just waited until Xander turned the van around and then got my meds, starting drinking a cold bottle of water and put a cool cloth around my head and let the meds do their work. By the time the groceries were done, I was starting to function again. Which was good because I had convinced the crew that I was capable of cooking dinner for 6 people better than Malawi take out. I had gotten them to agree to the next 2 dinner meals, shepherd's pie and roast chicken with potatos and vegetables and sent them in with ingredients. Apparently, they couldn't get ground beef so they decided on the fly to get the stuff for beef stew. Fine, whatever. First they don't think I can cook, now they think I can cook whatever they think up. Good news, I can!
It was hard to get back in the van but at least it was a short distance this time. Xander didn't say anything to the gang about my condition but made sure he carried my stuff in for me.
Coming in the door, we were greeted by the smell of new bikes! All 5 had been delivered while we were gone. I was excited to go for a ride but needed to get dinner started first. Chicken would be tonight but I would also do the stew as the prep would be the same and it would save us time just warming it up tomorrow evening.
Cathy, Karen and Sara set to work prepping carrots and beans and peeling potatos while Bryan, Janet and Xander tried to get the gas stove lit. Apparent it doesn't work so now we couldn't roast the chicken. It also was a little frozen anyway so it wouldn't have cooked in time. The good news was we had a charcoal grill so I said we would poach the chicken to start then finish it on the grill. Bryan and Xander got the charcoal going the vegetables were all prepped and the chicken was in the pot. Everything was good for about 40mins.
Karen and I decided we would take the bikes out for maiden voyage. I got my helmet, tied the streamers and we went to cruise the neighbourhood.
But as we look at the bikes, we notice that there were some problems, Handle bars too tight to turn, wheels way off alignment, tires flat, seats and pumps damaged....it was VERY disappointing to what had been an exciting purchase. Brian and Jason, at Cyclepath in London, would be embarrass to give a bike over to a customer like this. We selected a few bikes that seemed to be the best and headed out anyway to see how they were to ride. 1gear, off balance, not adjusted to our heights riding on the opposite side of the road, Karen and I, bravely and with much determination, pedalled off. It was a rough go. Let's just say I'm not giving up Pearl any time soon. It was less than 100m before my seat was loose and just as we made a turn onto our second road, Karen's lost her chain. I had gotten further ahead not realising she was broken down so I turn around. She said that she could walk back but I knew how to get a chain back on. However 10mins later I had steel slivers and cuts on my hands as the chain wheels were not aligned and I didn't have any tools. I did manage to get it on but I knew it was still sketchy so I traded bikes with Karen. You could hear the click and clank of the chain skipping all the way back home and just as made the last turn there was a horrible screech as the chain snapped and my bike was done. We walked back to the house where Cathy greeted us at the door. So how are they? she happily asked. I sadly gave her the run down and that I didn't know how to tell Silas. Especially because we had paid extra to have then serviced and prepared properly. She asked if I could do the work. I probably could, or at least some of it but when? We were booked all day tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday were clinics and Wednesday we fly home. Plus, we had PAID to have this done. Cathy nodded and was very understanding. They had similiar problems 3 yrs ago buying sewing machines for the sewing centre. We will talk to Silas and find a solution.
Meanwhile, dinner needed to be completed. the coals were perfect and the chicken was ready for the grill with a rosemary glaze. The grill top looked a little...umm, let's say worn...so we covered it with tinfoil. I casually mentioned that we will need to watch that it didn't burn, to which I was corrected by someone else by being told tin foil didn't catch fire. My inside voice went off " Huh, someone doesn't camp that much" But I just replied "OK" knowing that I would be keeping my eye on the situation.
Sure enough just as the grease started dripping through, flames started up through the foil and I quickly worked to rescue our dinner while extra hands arrived to help. I probably shouldn't have said anything but I turned to my commentator and said. "Good thing foil doesn't burn"
It didn't matter. Dinner was great and not take out.
While we ate, the howling and screeching of a cat in distress filled the night air. Janet has a pet cat that we had purchase food for earlier in the week. Did she know where it was? No, said Janet, it had taken off while we were away and she didn't know where it had went. All I could think was...Ummm I think a monkey might have found it. The noise stopped for a bit. I whispered to Karen "That's either a really GOOD thing or a REALLY BAD thing." Cathy asked if Janet thought she might want to go and check to see if that was her cat Misty outside? I mean, it was what we were all thinking..... Janet thought about it for a minute then decided to go check. Yup, she actually paused to think about it. When she left, Karen leaned over and whispered, Do you think she has opened the bag of food yet? I shrugged " Cathy will have the receipt" Bryan over heard us and suddenly stopped "What did you guys say?" NOTHING!!!!!! Janet came back, Nope it wasn't Misty. OK.
After dinner, I got started on the stew and while it slowly cooked on the stove, Karen and I worked a little surgery on my fingers to remove the shards of steel from the bikes. She did a great job and I didn't have to hit her once so that she felt my pain.
Once again, everyone had retired to their beds after a tiring driving day. I have to wait a few more hours to do my next dose of meds before I can go to sleep. The mosquito population seems to have increased in our time away. I chuckled when I saw this on my friend, Sandra's FB timeline.
Makes Muskol seem like a waste of time. Tomorrow we have the church service in Chipagala. I am excited to see how we are greeted at the arrival. Cathy has asked me to read the Gospel reading tomorrow. I said if I got the phonic it would be nice to do it in the native language of Chechewa. Apparently though, it's a tradition for the visitor to do it in their language and then have it translated/reread by a member of the congregation. I said I could do it in Spanish. Cathy said then nobody would understand it. Nobody understands English anyway and you guys can follow in your pew bibles. Cathy said just do it in English. I could do it in Pig Latin...that would be fun. I wonder how long it would take for people to notice. We could say I was slain in the Spirit and speaking in tongues. Cathy said "Don't you dare. You will hear about it when I get home" Ya I have a feeling I would hear about it for a long time....might be worth it though! 😊