Friday, May 30, 2008

I've come a Lilongwe

Ok peoples, I iz here! After a grueling 48 hours of transit and layovers, weird plane-buddies ("did you know I worked on planes like these back in '53?"), wading through packs of uniformed short-term missions teams (The whole time I wanted to go up to one of them and say: "ha, I'm soooo much cooler than all of you! Your matching T-shirts seek to carve out sacred space in a profane environment preserving and importing your western cultural assumptions rather than allowing yourselves to be transformed! Fools! My professor is totally writing a book about how lame you all are. HAHAHAHA" Good thing I didn't say that.) I'm glad to report that I'm now safely in Lilongwe. The 45 minutes that I have heretofore spent in Malawi have been splendid. The people are that particularly African brand of genial; the kind that makes you feel human rather than objectified. Traces of it still remain in the American south despite the interloping of liberalism, Midwesterners and New Yorkers. Here however, it comes in large dollops. From handshakes and laughter and other expressions of welcome. The land looks like a slightly dryer version of Zimbabwe. Brown-green shrubbery and grasslands stretch out for miles with shallow hills and sparse mountains in the backdrop. There are the familiar corn-roasters on the side of the road, white mini-buses, kids playing soccer and ladies with large bundles of all sorts of things on their heads. The trees are all twisty and beautiful with interesting leaves and oddly shaped trunks. Everything is so strangely familiar. I'm very happy to be back in southern Africa again.

I'm sitting in the World Relief offices right now. All of the employees are very professional and striking people. They are happy to see me, but also very hard at work so I'm trying not to disturb them until I go to my supervisor's house. They've all got that "hellooo Mr. Intern" look. I better start shaving the time off of my laps to and from the coffee maker. (When I interned at Charlietango I had it down to 1:30 flat). Maybe I'll be fetching tea here though, hmmm.

I'll be staying in Lilongwe for about a week before going to Salima. Stay tuned for more information and pics.

Monday, May 26, 2008

T-Minus 3 Days

This is it. The blog you've all been waiting for. Less obtrusive than mass emails with a slick, easy-on-the-eye "minima black" template so you have absolutely no excuse not to read this stuff. Expect updates once a week (that's optimistic). I'll try and have pictures up and also maybe some audio blogs that I'll be recording with my bad#*(@ Marantz PMD620. I'll see how I can make that work. Maybe a podcast? Feel free to email me if you have any ideas. Stay tuned.

I just saw Indiana Jones 4 so I'm feeling ready to spend my 6 months in Malawi. Foreign locales are a piece of cake for a tough-as-nails world traveler with a machete, loose fitting khakis and one of those cool hat-things (maybe I should look into getting a bullwhip).

Seriously, I'm getting eager to get over there and meet the World Relief Malawi staff. I feel well oriented thanks to some training in Baltimore and there's really nothing more left to do but get a haircut and go. So many questions assault my muddled psyche. What will Malawian culture be like? Will the language be too difficult? Will my supervisor accept me in the "WR Malawi family" even after I addressed him as a woman over email? Into the unknown.

I'll be leaving the States on the '28th and getting into Lilongwe on May 30th. That's a good 48 hours of misty-eyed existential airport time. "Who am I? Where am I going? Where are any of us going?" Blah blah blah. Be glad I won't have the opportunity to update this blog in transit or the petty angst emanating from your screen would be enough to deter any of you dear readers from checking it ever again. If you really want to feel what the travel experience will be like, just turn on some weepy music and drink Sprite out of little four-ounce glasses and sit in the same place for 23 HOURS CONFESSING EVERY SIN YOU'VE EVER COMMITTED EVERY TIME THE "FASTEN SEAT-BELT LIGHT" LIGHT COMES ON. Yeah, it's not going to be fun, but I've done this before, and there are few things I won't do to get back to Africa.

To be continued on the other side...