Monday, January 05, 2009

Old Town, Lilongwe

I’m inside a restaurant, Nando’s – a reasonably priced Portuguese inspired cuisine with chicken and vegetarian burgers, and salads. For a very early lunch I had a platter of lemon flavored yellow rice with two marinated chicken kebab. Delicious. This place has wi-fi access – though the connection is very strong, much better than the camp (too weak to go online). However, the online registration doesn’t work and it’s pouring rain outside. I took the opportunity to polish the Week of Firsts blog post and now, this post. With one hearing aid on, I can hear the chatter of people outside waiting under the concrete alcove, for the rain to pass. And it’s windy outside. Not good.

My errands finished earlier than I expected – I exchanged a couple traveller's cheques(I’d run out of cash) into kwachas, walked up the hill to the immigration and visa permit office only to find out I didn’t need one after all. I pressed the officer to clarify that I am volunteering for four months in Blantyre. That seemed unimportant to him. He instructed me to check in for an “extension” in Blantyre as needed. O-kay. Least I have it in his writing in my notepad .The Axa coach line was next door (the Shire coach line recommended by my guidebook is in rubble - really), so I took an opportunity to book a 7am bus to Blantyre. The trip takes four to five hours so might as well get an early start.

I’m excited about this French hostel I booked in Blantyre – for a week I’ll have a room to myself, free towels, a swimming pool and they have a wine bar. I’ll really have to discipline myself. I’ve been told that FEDOMA outside Blantyre is anticipating my arrival and my accommodations are planned. I hope. To spoil myself a bit, I will keep my reservation at the Hostellerie du France. In a way it’s sort of a poke at me. A former roommate of mine, Guthrie called my old apartment in Hell’s Kitchen – Hotel du Breen – because I often had friends who were between apartments or out-of-towners staying over.

The hostel/camp I’ve been staying since late Thursday night is pretty decent. The staff there is nice, and there are three large dogs and a black cat lounging around the grounds. The cat mainly sticks to the dining hall and the dogs basically follow their muzangu owners (who run the hostel) around. There are a lot of young and old folks from Europe - far as I can tell and some native wazungus (wa is for many white people).

I’ve been very, very fortunate in terms of meeting deaf people. In Lusaka, I ran into Euphrasia, a deaf woman who I will be working with on her baseline survey travels around Malawi. She’s completed one or two travellers I believe. On Saturday afternoon, a large yellow 4x4 caravan bus arrived with 24 people stopping in Malawi along its 4 month trip from Egypt, wending down through countries (the Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, and Burundi so far). Malawi is its halfway point to South Africa. Two of its travelers are Deaf British – one of them having worked with the Deaf in Blantyre so she knows people who I will work with. Very small world and how random is that???? She showed me some video on her camera of deaf children she’s worked with (her primary tasks were collecting and documenting Malawian sign language – that part I may assist between MANAD and my online class tasks) and a gathering of disabled and deaf Malawians at FEDOMA (Federation of Disabled of Malawi). She was able to help facilitate a meeting point for me and Charles, one of the people I will work for who lives in town. I was very grateful for her assistance! The next day, I met up with Charles who gave me some insight on Malawi Deaf – to basically focus on tasks on hand and try to remain neutral, not to let the Deaf gossip distract (or bother) me. My overwhelmed reception skills – attempting to absorb conversations mixed in with ASL, Zambian sign, International Sign, BSL, and now, Malawi signs thrown inside – is on the fray. I probably understood – or absorbed – maybe 50 to 75 percent of information since Saturday evening.

So far, my stars have been good – perhaps because I was able to see part of the constellation at night while travelling through Zambia. When I’m not moving and standing in one place with lights turned off, it’s not cloudy or raining I hope to get another look at the night sky.


Blogger Erin said...

Sounds like a great trip so far! Post pictures ssoon!!! xoxoxo

1/05/2009 10:19 AM  
Blogger MCC Brazil! said...

How Random IS that?! It is a small world.

Great you can find WiFi and post to all of us. Glad you liked Euphrasia. Cool that you are being so independent and getting around so well.

Even as a hearing traveler,Kate, I will miss information because of language issues. Ask them to repeat, write down, re-sign, slow down or whatever to get the info you need. I've made major mistakes because of my ego of not wanting to ask people to repeat themselves. It does one good to be humble! :)

1/06/2009 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

go, go, go breen! thanks for including me in the updates. i'm insanely envious that you're on yet another excursion--so drive me wild by posting pics!

sounds like your typical life-changing experience...

again, pics.

post. them. :)


1/06/2009 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Sandman said...

Wow-- sounds like quite a trip, and you're not even at your final destination yet! Thanks for alerting me to your posts. I enjoyed reading them. Best wishes in Blantyre!

1/06/2009 2:51 PM  
Blogger Chip said...

Kate, I just discovered your blog. I enjoyed reading, and look forward to more posts. Chip Reilly

2/13/2009 5:01 PM  

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