Sunday, March 28, 2010

Carole meets Malawi

Like I’ve said in one of my posts, I love “fresh meat” in Malawi! There is nothing like watching one’s reactions to things I have to deal with on daily basis! Today I will talk about Carole, a lady who came to visit us with her husband from Richmond, Virginia. Carole came to Malawi last year and was one of the unwilling participants in my “rat prank.” I will just combine both of her Malawi experiences in one post.

First of all I need to tell you that roads in Malawi are just absolutely terrible! Not only do I have to avoid people but also animals and potholes the size of the Grand Canyon! When someone comes in from Mozambique they think our roads are great, but for your average American they are pretty bad. Carole was one of the Americans who thought they were the worst thing she has ever seen. At one point she told me not to hit so many bumps because she was going to bite off her tongue to which I commented, “I bet Eddie (Carole’s husband) will be happy if that happens!” One has to be an aggressive driver in Malawi or not get out on the road to begin with! I am one of those drivers with a hint of “road rage.” I don’t let people cut in front of me and just bud in if no one will let me in. I drive an SUV, so my motto is that I am bigger than anyone and therefore I have the right of way! Last year on the way to the lake poor Carole was about to have a heart attack and felt we were going to hit every single person on the road. When we finally got there she dipped her feet in water and relaxed, thankful that she was off the road and safe. As she was sitting there enjoying peace and tranquility, Eddie came up and told her about the Bilharzia parasite and that it was going to work its way up her toenails and into her kidneys. As you can imagine, that comment brought Carole’s sense of peace to a grinding halt!

Yesterday I took Carole to Blantyre to get some Malawi wood carvings. While there she decided to treat me to lunch. She took me out to eat at this charming place called Mega Bite. The tables were set outside and it looked lovely. When our food was brought to us we started eating. As soon as we tried to cut the meat we realized that our table was really wobbly and that one of us would have to cut her meat while the other one held the table in place, so we took turns eating. Carole looked like a killer in horror movies sawing at the tough T-bone in front of her. At one point she said, “I think I’m finding some tender spots around the bone!” A bit later she really contemplated eating it like “King Henry or Beowulf!” For dessert we ordered ourselves iced coffee with ice cream. Carole decided that she did not have enough ice cream in her coffee and asked me if we could ask for more. I told her that she could always try! She went off to the main counter and came back about 5 minutes later holding an ice cream cone and mad! She said that when she asked the guy at the counter if she could have some ice cream in a bowl he said NO! “I do not sell ice cream in a bowl and you have to buy it in a cone!” She tried to argue with him but he just gave her a cone in the end. She said, “Did he think I was going to eat the bowl as well?”

At the end of our day Carole asked me how I cope with Malawi inefficiency and having to argue over everything. I told her that I used to get frustrated and mad. After a few years I came to realize that getting mad was not getting me anywhere so I started “going with the flow” and laughing as opposed to crying. Ranting works as well. And the best solution by far is going home every 2 years for 5 months! ;-)


  1. I think that I would be a lot like Carole. I would have no patience! So when is the big day that you get to come back home for a while??

  2. I enjoy reading your blogs every week. It amazes me how you can be so far away and still be dong the same things I am, like attending the same University. I really like the ones like this blog where people visit and aren't used to the culture in Malawi. I am the type that would probably keep there mouth shut in a new town because I don't know what is correct. Now here is a different story, I will tell you what I don't think is right. Like an instance where I had to take back a $110 pair of Dr. Martens boots and the guy tried to tell me the insoles coming out was normal. He didn't like me to well after I left. Looking forward to reading your blogs.