5 Normal Thoughts I’ve Had Here That Would Be Weird in the US:
“A warm coke would be so nice right now!”
“It’s only been four days; I’ll wash my hair another time.”
“How the hell did I sleep so late?” (*6:30am*)
“I have four full buckets of water and am the luckiest girl in the world!”
“Ten cents for three tomatoes? Ah way too expensive.”
3 Truths and 1 Lie. Below are four odd things things I’ve observed here. There are three true scenarios and one fabricated one. Can you guess which is which? (Answers at the end of this post).
1). Two ducks suspiciously waddling out of my outhouse together.
2). A woman carrying a handbag… on her head. (Meanwhile, the woman next to her was carrying a single comb in the same fashion).
3). A goat strapped to the back of a moving bike with another goat riding shotgun between the biker’s legs.
4). A raging fire directly outside of my straw fence that a group of amayis somehow managed to put out as I held my breath watching.
5 Malawian Behaviors I Didn’t Understand in Homestay But Have Since Adopted
Keeping weird/old/broken things around. Why? Because they might come in handy someday or already have a purpose. For example, there are two pieces of an old snack bag that are constantly floating between my fire pit and where I eat. Their purpose is to protect my fingers from burning when I pick up a pot on the fire to transfer inside. However, I’m sure they’d look like trash to a visitor. Another example comes from this morning when I saw a clear, thick plastic bag fall out of my trash and literally thought, “Wow, that’s a nice bag! I wonder why I threw it away.” (And then laughed at the absurdity). Anyway, re-purposing and saving potentially handy objects is 100% valid with the little resources that exist here. Plus, you get to use your creativity!
Putting all the dirty dinner dishes inside until the next morning. Living with my host family, I always questioned why they just didn’t get the dish washing over with at night. The reason, I learned? It’s dark, you’re exhausted from prepping food, starting a fire & cooking the food, and you can’t leave them outside because someone might snatch your favorite spoon during the night.
Putting oil and salt on EVERYTHING. In large quantities. Because most families haven’t built ovens, frying foods is a way of life. And possibly due to the low quality of the frying pans, using excessive amounts of oil is apparently the way to go. As for the salt, it’s the cheapest and easiest way to liven up your food here. Being in Malawi for almost three months, I too have adopted the oil/salt lifestyle. Embarrassingly, I even now put the combination on my salad! When you don’t have dressing, oil & salt will have to do.
Storing everything on the ground. Simply put, furniture is expensive. Additionally, it’s a pain to transport to your house since you will most likely have to hire a bike taxi, ox cart, or car. So yes, most of my things are still on the ground. (Including me when I’m not standing).
Getting dressed up to go into town. Whenever my homestay mom was traveling to the Boma (nearest city/trading area), she would put on her Sunday best- earrings, a nice chitenje, a head wrap and maybe even running shoes. I thought it was funny. Then, I realized I did the same exact thing the first time I went to my Boma. I brushed my hair (rare), picked out a slightly less conservative outfit, cleaned off my shoes and even wore deodorant! I felt like a country bumpkin leaving for the big city. When I realized what I was doing, I again laughed at the absurdity. I was only traveling there to pick up a few groceries so why did I feel the need to get “dressed up?” So odd.
I hope you have found this post interesting and a bit different than my usual ramblings! I wish I could post more pictures, but they take eons to upload. Thank you to everyone who has commented here or sent me letters. Hearing from you all makes my day!
My backyard on laundry day (rainbow organized of course).
Swimming in the local river! The girl on the left in the school uniform comes to my house often and brought me here with her friends last week.
*Answers to 3 Truths and a Lie: Trick question. I have observed all of those things here.