The Amazing Race
When I arrived at my terminal to leave Johannesburg, there were approximately 5 guys with massive cameras, and perhaps the same number with large fuzzy mikes. I was curious, but didn’t say anything. On the plane, before I switched seats, I was talking to the girls I was sitting next to. They were headed to help their mom with a literacy project, getting oral stories written down in Chichewa. We were saying how curious we were about the cameras, so I asked the guys what the were filming. They said that they were filming “a travel show. It’s going to be on tv eventually, but I don’t know what channel.” That was enough to satisfy my curiosity. But there was a group of teenagers on a mission trip, and somehow they came to the conclusion that it was the amazing race. After I switched seats (there was a lot of seat switching going on), I was sitting next to a girl named Lisa from Holland, and a guy named Andy from Lake Tahoe. We all ended up talking and sharing food from our meals (which were delicious) with each other. It turns out this Andy guy was grouped with the camera people, and as soon as the plane landed, he was off as quickly as possible. My cousin Ryan asked someone later, and it was the amazing race. I wonder what they’ll be doing in Malawi…this is my second time bumping into them (first was in Seattle two years ago). Maybe I should start watching that show!
So far, things are going well, and I really like it here. It is rather overwhelming at times though. Jen to us all shopping this morning. We went to two stores that are fairly normal, just different brands and a bit more expensive for some items. The first one had a lot of items that were made in Malawi. I got some honey called “Forest Gold” which I’m rather excited about. Also, all the sugar is produced here, and I bought some tea from a in-country plantation. There’s a brand of flour here called Snowflake, and it’s motto is “Too fresh to flop,” which I think is fantastic!
We also went to the market proper which was probably the most overwhelming part of the day. We drive up, and before we get out, men are coming to the door of the car and saying “Would you like this?” “Come and see my stall?” “Sister, sister, would you like some pineapple?” I kinda like the “Sister, sister” part. It makes me think of fairy tales where strangers called each other “grandmother” and “father” out of respect. I ended up getting half a pound of green beans, a lot of garlic, a bunch of parsley and a bunch of cilantro for 500 Kwacha ($2.72). I’m rather confused about how that happened, because at first I just asked for garlic and parsley. I was told 100 MKW for the parsley and 300 MKW for a double bunch of garlic. I asked if I could get half the amount of garlic, and that was fine. (So we’re at 250 now…) Then I pulled out my 500 note, which is the most common denomination. However, they don’t really give change at the market. This is where things got confusing. Someone points out the green beans, and I said, sure, those would be good and someone also pointed to the cilantro. Then I’m not sure what happened. Somehow I ended up with both in my bag, the garlic ended up changing price to 350 for one bunch. I gave them my 500 note, and I think everyone was happy.
The last store we went to had a lot of imports, even Bertolli olive oil. But everything was expensive. It was also right next to a gas station, rather like any gas station convenience store would be in the states. The station had gas, and there was a huge line-up of cars because of the fuel crisis. Men were also clustered around the pumps with plastic jerry cans. There was some shouting going on, and pretty soon the police showed up carrying some sort of automatic guns. Things quieted down quickly after that.
Last things and a tour of my house
The rest of the day was a tour of campus and eating meals, and all us girls walked to the market near the seminary. The other market’s about 20 minutes away. I’ve seen my classroom, and gotten some books to look through. I also have my student’s entrance tests, so I’ll look over those tonight along with the books. Tomorrow’s Kara’s birthday party, so we’re having a barbecue and roasting marshmallows. I’m going to make some bread and perhaps a macaroni salad. The students arrive on Monday, so classes really start on Tuesday. I’m feeling much less concerned and more excited now that I’ve got some books and can start making real plans!