Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Last Morning in Malawi...

It's just after 6am here and I've been up for over an hour (thanks to the prayer call from the Mosque).  Louis appeared about 15 minutes ago and opened the doors, went away and then came back to offer me tea! Henry (the Gardner) is wandering around with a watering can making sure all the plants on the deck are watered. Apart from the guard the rest of the dwarfs (sorry i mean staff) will be here sometime around 7am.

I had no intention of being up so early this morning but clearly someone else had a different idea - even if it was the prayer call that woke me rather than church bells. Everyone keeps asking me how I feel about leaving - I don't think it's sunk in yet (even though my cases are packed and i'm essentially ready to leave). It just feels like I'm going on a holiday and not actually leaving after 5 months of work/research and lots of laughs.  I was asked yesterday if i've cried yet  - I haven't but no promises that I won't! 

Maybe because I've left before and been back within a year - it feels like I will be back in Malawi again! I hope I'm back soon. There are positives about leaving  - I'll have clean feet! and the water and power won't go off every time someone decides they want a pay rise! 

Over the last week, I've said goodbye to people, met them again, said goodbye again! Well you get the idea! Joe did say until you are on the plane, the chances are you will keep saying the same faces until you leave! He was right! I also keep meeting people who are leaving on the same flight as I am - I have a feeling the flight for Chileka (Blantyre) to Jo'burg is going to be full of people I know. Tony and John have the same connections all the way to Edinburgh!

Well soon it will be time to say goodbye to Malawi... :-(

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Lilongwe to Blantyre: early starts, bus crashes, good conversations and meeting new people...

Imagine its being 5.30am - you're up just as the sun rises and getting ready to catch the early (7am) bus to Lilongwe. Up early enough to get ready and sit and watch Lilongwe come to life as people start t make their way around the city.

6.45am  - I'm at the AXA bus depot. To begin with the Executive Bus is not running - so it's the "Deluxe" coach we are getting on. The main difference is the lack of air conditioning which means it's going to be hot on the bus!

7am  - The bus sets off via the AXA workshop for Blantyre

7.20am  - Finally out of Lilongwe and on the road to Blantyre - the driver is going really fast to make up time, half the bus are Mzungu's and don't look to comfortable with this! Thankfully I'm sitting half way up the bus and have my earphones in.

9.15m - we stop at Ntcheu for a 10 minutes to let people stretch their legs, go to the toilet etc!

9.25am - we finally leave Ntcheu heading for Blantyre

9.45 am  - the bus hits a car! The car was slowing down at road works but the guy changing the go and stop flags didn't give the driver enough warning and so the car did an emergency stop as did the bus! The bus still hit the car, blowing out it's back window. We now have to wait on Road Traffic Police, to arrive, assess the situation before we can go anywhere. There are several first-aiders, a doctor and a nurse on the bus! Between us we are able to check no-one is injured.

10.30am - we are on our way back to Blantyre - the driver is again going fast! You would have thought he would have learned.

11.20 I finally know where I am - not far from the bus stop - I let Moffat know to come and get me.

11.30 - Bus arrives at the bus station, i get my first look at the front of the bus, I'm glad I didn't notice before how bad the damage is - everyone who wasn't on the bus wants to know what happened.

11.45 - arrive at Makys! Steve takes one look at me and reaches for a glass without even asking what I want! I say hello to Maky and the staff before finally managing to say "pineapple" to Steve - in other words fanta!

Noon: Start to think about food!

The afternoon I spent checking emails, texting and phoning people and I also managed to re-organise my cases etc!

Now its Saturday, I'm meeting Kirren in 20 minutes and will be spending some time catching up with friends..

It's time to say goodbye...

This week was the start of the goodbyes. I don’t like saying goodbye but I think having to say it to people you have spent time with is much harder. It started with the staff at Minga CDSS. I’ve spent so much time with the staff, teaching the kids, emailing and phoning Gilbert and Happy.  Of all my research participants I think I spent the most time with them and had the most distant communication as well.

Then today I met up with William, a really good friend that I met in Edinburgh earlier this year. He is Malawian and I study Malawi so a mutual friend (Mupu) introduced us – it felt like we had always been friends after about ten minutes. He’s been a really good source of information and support as well – saying goodbye was rather sad. Thank God there is Email and Facebook now – keeping in contact shouldn’t be too hard. Actually it’s thanks to God we  met – Mupu, William and I all attend the same church in Edinburgh and had I not met Mupu at church, I would never have met William (oh and thanks to CSU for the cheese/wine/cake nights that were planned – they also helped).

It’s made me think about the Goodbyes to come! The Mary’s Meals staff, Axchelle & Maky et al, Jo and Clive, Joe, Michael & Karen et al (though Karen is currently in South Korea), The Beehive volunteers, Open Arms kids, volunteers and staff, The staff at Chez Maky, Florian and Mary, Davina, David, Thomasina, Katie and the list goes on and on!

I suspect the next week or so will be just as full of tears as they will be happy "I'm leaving on a Jetplane"