Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Only in Malawi...

I'm sure the things listed below have been experienced in other parts of the world. However, I've only lived in various American cities and Lilongwe, and so far, these things haven't happened to me in America. Some of these things I love. Some of them drive me nuts. You will probably be able to figure it out which ones are which on your own.
Only in Malawi....

1. .....are you able to buy bananas, strawberries, tires, cell phone units, rats on a stick, sling shots, kittens, rabbits and puppies on the side of the road. (believe me, the list goes on!)

2. ......will you hear the gas station attendant sing songs about Jesus while pumping gas.

3. .....are you stopped at a road block made of branches and brick only to find out that the men standing around aren't fixing the pot holes ahead. The real reason they have stopped you is to ask for money.

4. ....will you hear the words "thank you" a thousand times in the span of 2 minutes and as a response to everything. (While at the grocery store today, a man weighed my onions and priced them for me. When he gave them back to me, he said "thank you" 3 times, then I said "thank you" back, then he said "thank you" twice again and so on and so forth. If you continue to say "thank you", a Malawian will not stop saying it back. You are responsible for stopping madness or else it will continue forever!)

5. ....will you see 6 stray dogs wandering the streets at night and one dead on the road within a 2 mile radius.

6. .....can you get away with a bag full of delicious produce for under $8.

7. .....will you have to give up the dream of eating things like cream cheese and Rice Crispies because you truly cannot afford them. (certain cereals are more than $10!!!)

8. .....will a person refer to your little boy (wearing blue!) as "her" and then continue to call it a girl, even after you have told them it is a boy. This one makes me laugh every time.

9. .....will it take you 15 minutes to drive 1 mile through campus because you have stopped to visit with 6 different people on your way out.

10. .....will you get cut off by a huge slow semi driver who has just turned onto a busy street. The one you are most likely going 50 MPH on.

Over the last 24 hours, I have experienced each of these things, some of them more than once. These things, among others, are what I love about Malawi but they also challenge me. It is such a different place here, but while being out and about today, I have felt at home. These things no longer surprise me or frustrate me. It's just life here and I'm used to it. Lately, I have tried to imagine the things that will frustrate me most once back in the States. I know there are many things I have missed and cannot wait to get back to (like $1.99 cream cheese at Trader Joe's) but I also know it will be quite the challenge re-entering into a culture so different than the one I love here.

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