I have now been here in Malawi exactly one month, and I thought I would summarize some of my findings about the country, its inhabitants and me being in the midst of it.
- The people here are exceptionally friendly. Everyday, people approach me for some chit chat, some pleasant polite conversation; Muli bwanji? Ndili bwino, kaya inu? Chabwino! (How are you? I'm fine, and you? Very good!) or to ask me what brings me to Zomba. In the market, I'm likely to be charged a higher prize than my malawian friends, so called mzungu price, but it is never unreasonable. And when I get on a minibus, I always end up where I need to be without very much hassle.
- People here have such great names. I have come across people actually named Precious, Innocent, Blessings (all male names), Miracle and Gift, along with a wide range of Chichewa, Tonga names (both local tongues spoken here) and more common English names.
- During this whole time, I have seen only one male carrying a child on the back, in all the other cases it is mothers and sisters carrying the little ones. There are no such thing as baby strollers (barnvagnar) here, it would not work anyway with the way the streets look. Instead all small children are carried on their backs in simple colorful cloths referred to as chitenge, which is the same fabric most rural women wear as skirts, or wraps.
- Remember the lyrics to Toto's Africa? "The wild dogs cry out in the night, as they grow restless longing for some solitary company [...] It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you. There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do. I bless the rains down in Africa..". Well, the wild dogs are indeed crying out in the night. All night, every night!
- The bugs here are MASSIVE. Massive wasps and massive bumblebees. They seem friendly enough though. Thankfully. And the ants, on the other hand, are really, really tiny.
- I keep being surprised by my own skin color, repeatedly. All I see around me, all day long, is dark skinned people, and when I glance down on my arms every now and then, I still find myself thinking "Whoa! Pinkish white!".
- My feet always seems dirty, no matter how often I wash them (which is daily). The red, fine dust of Africa sticks to my skin as if its life depended on it. Even when I'm wearing socks and shoes.
- At home, I would never buy bananas. And I would not voluntarily touch brown ones. Here, I'm all of a sudden totally fine with brown, even black bananas. Even the ones that are ripe to the point of emitting a slightly alcoholic scent.
- Oh, and the trees are amazing! But I'll save them for another special post!