Monday, December 14, 2009


Note: This post was written on an incredibly small plane (no Dad, I have no idea what kind, but it did have propellers. No, I don’t know how many.) somewhere over Southern Malawi. In celebrity news, a man who very much resembles Oliver Mtukudzi is sitting across the aisle from me and I really think it might be him. My conviction is based on the fact that it vaguely looks like him and the flight ends in Harare. So it is clearly him, or at least that’s what I tell myself as I unabashedly stare which I think is making him uncomfortable. Sorry Tuku (or random man if that is the case)…

I’ve just arrived in Malawi after a lovely 36 hour jaunt in Kenya, where I attended my friend Jackie’s wedding, caught up with SLU friend John in Nairobi, and successfully navigated the Thika nightlife with NYU friend Mike. More to come on those adventures…

Anyway, this is my first visit to Malawi, and to be honest, I know very little about it. While flying today I’ve compiled a list of the things I DO know for your reading pleasure:

  • 99.9% of my friends/family have never heard of Malawi and it is the only place in the world my Dad can’t pick out on a map, in spite of the fact that I’ve shown him 16 times. So for all of your sakes, Malawi is a long, narrow country in southeastern Africa, bordered by Tanzania in the Northeast, Zambia in the northwest, and Mozambique everywhere else.
  • Those who HAVE heard of Malawi have probably heard about it because of the association with Madonna. Yes, Malawi is the country where Madonna stole bought adopted two children who already had families orphans. However, the Malawians don’t seem too upset over the scandal as child-sized, brightly colored t-shirts with the words “Adopt Me!” and an arrow pointing to the wearer’s face are readily available in Lilongwe airport. I really wish they had one in my size.
  • Others may have heard of Lake Malawi, an aptly named popular tourist destination which lines almost the entire Eastern border of the country.
  • Blantyre, where I am headed for work, is incredibly complicated to get to from Kampala. My route was Entebbe -> Nairobi -> Lusaka -> Lilongwe -> Blantyre. This took approximately 16 hours despite its relative closeness.
  • The people are incredibly nice! The customs people actually smiled, a woman working in a small grocery store in Lilongwe airport allowed me to charge my phone in her stand and was patient while I asked her how to say things in Chichewa (I’ve already forgotten it all which is why that is not included in this lesson), and a policeman proposed to me and was undeterred when I lied to him and told him I had a “very large husband in America.” But he was very friendly about it!
  • Based on the view from the sky and Lilongwe Airport, it appears to be beautiful.

So as you can see, my information is limited. And while I will likely be quite busy with work, I hope to learn a tiny bit more about the country in the next week. And you know what that means—blog posts! I also plan to update about my visit to Nairobi and Thika, so WATCH THIS SPACE!


Kate said...

Did he at least offer your a few dozen cows or goats? I was told I could fetch at least 13 cows in Tanzania, pretty tempting.

courtneyb said...

We didn't get into details. He was mostly concerned with assuring me that he would have no problem stealing me from fictional "very large husband in America." But I have been told in other contexts that I am worth MANY cows...

James said...

I thought I got the cows. I'm holding out for a whole herd!