Sunday, January 11, 2009

Second Week – Blantyre II

Remember I mentioned my excitement about Hostellerie de France? Well, it turned out to be a huge disappointment – I lasted one night and left for the Grace Bandawe the next day. It was way out from the city, isolated, no internet (as it was advertised), and no people around. I think I was the sole guest since I did not see other guests. The French couple that ran the hostel was very out of touch, acted superior to their African staff, and two German Shepherd dogs patrolled the area (they turned out to be darlings I found – I miss their affections and wonder how they are doing). The pros about the place: clean, hot showers, real coffee, efficient staff, and excellent view of the Rift Valley. Something about the place rubbed me the wrong way. It is ideal for those who can’t book a hostel elsewhere, come in groups of people, and have no interest in the city.

Juliana, the Chair of MANAD helped me get into Grace Bandawe, a Central African Presbyterian Church operated hotel and conference center. Malawi National Association of the Deaf and I believe, Federation of Disabled Organizations in Malawi (FEDOMA) used the place for retreats and conferences, so they’re accustomed to having deaf patrons. Juliana assisted me because, me being a foreigner the Grace will overcharge (not uncommon in Africa), and that Juliana is well known, the hotel agreed to book me at a reduced price. Interesting note and I’m not sure how to interpret it, Juliana persuaded me to rent the whole unit (at a cheaper price anyway) so an African patron will not share the unit with me, because I’m white and too different in lifestyle from the African. I’m not the first mazungu Juliana has set up accommodation for. I’m here for two weeks while Juliana searches a room for me to board. The last volunteer before me, Judy, stayed at a deaf school outside Limbe, but she mainly worked with children. So I’m not sure where Juliana will place me.

The Hotel is very pleasant – two rooms and a bathroom to each building unit, many thatched gazebos for reading, relaxing, and small groups to meet, and plenty of plants and flowers to admire. It’s closer to the city – though still a longish walk, but there are pedestrians and cars passing by in front of the Hotel gates so I feel more connected to humanity. The staff is all African and they manage the hotel and conference center, I see a number of other patrons. I’m content here but: no internet and no hot water (my coping method is to think of it as camping, by soaping and scrubbing myself before turning the cold water back on). Least the cons is only two .

A hostel down the road – Doogles – a hostel catered to foreigners, have internet and a bar. I go there at least once a day since it’s halfway to the city. I avoid the tourists there because they seem so…. flighty. So I’m a snob now (after a week and a half!).


Blogger MCC Brazil! said...

Life is rough - no internet or hot water! :) Glad Julianna is taking good care of you and it sounds like you are in a clean, secure place for now. The "longish" walk is good for you - keeps you in their Malawi pace and gives you time to think and observe. You are really "doing it" Kate!

1/12/2009 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

' an African patron will not share the unit with me, because I’m white and too different in lifestyle from the African....', WOW!!!! so you can't share a room???? What a load of CRAP!!

1/21/2009 1:04 PM  
Blogger Kate O. Breen said...

yeah i found it strange. however the last six days on the road i've been sharing a room (and once or twice a bed) with an african colleague nothing different really. an open mind is needed is all.

1/26/2009 2:49 AM  

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