Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Africa, cont...

The last entries of the journal I kept in Africa covers the last few days of the trip. More from July 9, 2008 - written during a long lay-over at the airport in Kenya:

Sunday afternoon after our time with Marco we took some frightening public transportation to get to the top of N'Durande Mountain. I swear, shocks for vehicles must be against the law in Malawi! It was a very terrifying trek up that mountain! However, the view from the top was pretty amazing and almost worth the white-knuckle trip.

From the top of N'Durande Mountain we could plainly see just how close the buildings are to one another in the city. It really looked like one of those ant farms inside a glass box! Millions (well, 900,000) of people scampering and bumping into one another, all apparently having someplace to go or somewhere to be. From the top of the mountain you could see the entire town!

The air quality in urban areas of Malawi is terrible. That surprised me as I expected Africa's air to be relatively untainted. But the reality is, there is very little electricity, so everywhere you go someone (or everyone) is stoking a fire where they are burning trash, cooking a meal, keeping warm, or roasting a rat. The air smells awful and I was never able to specifically identify the smells, although I suspect it was the roasting rats :)

On Monday we went on Safari! It took us 3 hours to get to Liwonde National Park and it was a loud and bumpy ride (as usual). John had made arrangements for a jeep to pick us up at the gate and take us into the park where we were to eat at the restaurant, then embark on the safari. Well, the jeep wasn't there to meet us, and in fact even after John made several phone calls, it never did arrive. John was brilliant under pressure and although he is very young, he is a great leader! Our regular driver ended up driving us into the park.

The buffet at the restaurant was really great, although they ended up running out of food and because John let all of us go first, he got a few pieces of bread and that was it! Everything was so beautiful, but the staff did not handle challenges very well. We, along with all the other guests, had made reservations, so why did they run out of food? John did get a percentage of our bill deducted.

The safari was very fun. We rode in an “Indiana Jones” like jeep and got as close as we possibly could to warthogs (they are so great), elephants, monkeys, and alligators. It was a good day.

Our last day in Chiwaya was Tuesday and we prepared a "Love Feast" for our hosts. In years past, it was the villagers who had prepared the Love Feast for the team as a way of saying Thank You for the work the team had done in the village. However, John wanted us to prepare the meal this year. So, we made pasta and meat sauce, salad, fruit, and bread (the fruit is so delicious here, we just didn't have enough of it!). It was an emotional and beautiful day. Words can't describe the joy of being there, talking with the great people, learning to appreciate how "much" little really is, and understanding what it is to respect and share with your neighbors.

Giana is so amazing! So many people gave up on my family (specifically my kids), but again I say...You're missing out! You are missing out on witnessing first hand a miracle and you are missing out on knowing the beautiful, strong, and amazing Miss Gia!

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