8:00 am in the US: Still sleeping.
8:00 am here: What haven’t I done?
Not to brag, but I’ve had an extremely productive Malawian-style morning. First, I woke up at 5:00 to start a fire. I then walked to the borehole with a bucket, pumped water and carried it on my head. I heated up the water, took a bucket bath and studied for a test. Then, I did all the dishes from last night and at 7:00, I ate breakfast with my amayi (mom). By 7:45, I was finally headed to school. Again, I would definitely still be sleeping in the US but here, it seems like my day is half over. Although I don’t normally do as many chores in the morning as I did today, I actually woke up later and accomplished less than my amayi does on any given day. Usually when I wake up or return from a run at 6:15, my amayi has already made a fire, fetched water and heated it up for me (in addition to sweeping the house and ground outside). Waking up early with her today really helped me understand just how much behind-the-scenes work she does. My arms were so tired from pumping at the well and my back was killing me from washing the dishes on the ground. So props to my amayi!
First off, thank you for the comments! I love hearing from everyone back home. Secondly, it’s really hard to decide what to post here because I have so much to share so let me know if you have questions!
I had another great weekend, spent with my family and other volunteers. On Saturday, we had our first experience hitch hiking! Our task was to somehow get to a market 30 minutes away via whichever mode of transport we chose. I was in a group with two other girls and we first flagged down a pickup truck, which brought us half-way to the market for free. It was so fun riding in the back! We talked about how crazy it was that we were putting so much trust in a stranger that could literally bring us anywhere (sorry mom), but hitching in Malawi is apparently really common and highly utilized by volunteers. We then were offered a ride by a man who wanted 1500 kwacha to bring us the rest of the way to the market. After denying his offer, he reduced the price to 200 each (less than 50 US cents) and we accepted. It felt like the car was going to break down and there were a total of 9 people smushed into the hatchback, but we made it! I’m not sure how I’ll feel about hitching alone when I’m at my site, but my first experience was definitely encouraging.
On Sunday, I celebrated my first Easter in Malawi, although it hardly felt like a holiday. I’m not even sure if my amayi knew that it was Easter until we went to church because I tried to explain using my calendar and she just kept agreeing that Yes, it was April 4th (duh Christina!). The church we went to was a modest mud & thatched roof structure that fit about 50 people. The service was full of singing, dancing, and plenty of Chichewa that I couldn’t understand. After the service, we went home and cooked our lunch. I was given the task of making the eggs and for the first time, decided to go against the Malawian way of cooking them. Instead, much to my host brother’s dismay, I made scrambled eggs with tomato and onion. (No cheese sadly). I think my family liked the new cooking style, even though they added about a mound of salt to their portions- but that’s Malawi for ya.
After lunch, I walked 30 minutes to a nearby market with a neighborhood friend and her baby. She’s 23 and is always over at my house chatting on the stoop. When she mentioned that she was going to the market, I asked her if I could join and was so glad that I did! It was really fun to go shopping with her and I almost felt like a real Malawian. (Key word: almost). Plus, I bought a couple of cool skirts. Overall, I had a great Easter weekend.
Up next: The location of my site!
We find out where we’ll be placed one week from today!!! Slightly freaking out… Or freaking out a lot… This whole experience still doesn’t feel real to me. I thought it would hit me when I left NH or then when I landed in Malawi or then when I arrived at homestay, but it hasn’t yet. When will this feel real? Perhaps when my site is announced… Stay tuned