Internet access is severely restricted during my stay in Malawi, so I will try to post as much as I can. Unfortunately, that also means pictures can’t be uploaded as well.
Door-to-door travel to Lilongwe, Malawi from South Korea took over 30 hours of traveling – an entire day evaporated! The stretch from Hong Kong to Johannesburg over the Indian Ocean was a grueling 13-hour competition with myself on how still I could sit on a slab of rock wrapped with cloth. After a few attempts of body slamming into my seat, I gave up on figuring out how to recline it and relegated myself to a sad piece of stationary luggage.
Once we touched down to Johannesburg, we had about an hour to kill until our connecting flight to Malawi. There were plenty of duty free and souvenir shops filled with dried venison/game, South African wine, Kinder Bueno, local crafts, and…. vuvuzuelas!!! You too can relive the World Cup!
In true Korean collectivisitc spirit, everyone in our group handed out Choco-pies and Shrimp Crackers… (shh… we are saving the soju and gojuchang for later)
I met two girls on the flight to Malawi who were from a high school in Shanghai. They were on summer break and doing Habitat for Humanity with her classmates. They were also going to Jacaranda, a Malawi orphanage for those inflicted with AIDS/HIV.
After a “short” three-hour flight, we finally arrive in Malawi where I’m met with much warmer weather. (It was freezing in South Africa)
We are staying at the Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe. There’s an awfully cute note in the bathroom that says to conserve water. However, this also reminds me of the advice given to me by the SF health clinic to close my mouth while showering so I don’t accidentally drink it. We all use water bottles to brush our teeth as well. Brushing my teeth with bottled water is something I haven’t gotten used to yet. It seems like a waste of potable water.
Also, no mosquito bites to report so far, except for the ones I got in S. Korea.
The roads here are mostly dirt and there are villagers walking around everywhere. It’s hard to describe what I see, but I guess it’s like you’re in an old Western movie. Replace the saloon with one-room brick enclosures, horses with oxen, dogs with goats, and cowboys with African villagers. Oh and you can buy roasted rats on a stick. I guess that’s Korea’s equivalet to bun dae gee? bo shim tang?
I saw a makeshift wooden stand (think lemonade stand) with the signage: “Bill’s Bicycle Pumps”. It was literally this guy just standing on the side of a dirt road, behind a wooden stand with a bicycle pump. (A++++++ WOULD BUY AGAIN?)
Today, I got to meet the First Lady of the Republic of Malawi – aka Her Excellency! We were at SAFI (School of Agriculture for Family Independence) to watch the 2nd ever graduating ceremony. There were about 30 students graduating and the First Lady flew in from D.C. to personally congratulate them.
Apologize for the hurried post, I wish I had more time to elaborate . I will be able to post a bit more in a few days. We are going to the beaches at Lake Malawi tomorrow and then to Zambia soon after.