10 things that you see and you have to say, "THIS is Africa":
1. Boobs. Yes, boobs. Many of them. Apparently it is okay to nurse your child, then leave your one boob hanging around afterwards. Literally "hanging", swinging loose in the breeze.
2. Obamas - Not the POTUS, but a little cake like donut made of bread and fried and sold on the streets of most Malawian towns. When your bus stops, the kids all run up to the bus with Obamas on a stick, putting it in your face and shouting, "Obama, Obama!!"
3. Minibuses - Normally a 12 seater van, minibuses have become 23 people capable, whether you like it or not. Like I said in my last post, you have 4 people abreast plus 2 kids on laps, usually a lady nursing a baby with her boob in your face and a chicken or two. And maybe a pot or a bag of maize.
4. Welcome - when you meet people, and you meet a lot, they shake your hand, ask your name and proclaim that you are "most welcome" to Malawi. The people are very friendly.
5. Supplies - we were going to go camping/hiking for a few days, so we went to find supplies, things to eat. Usually we can exist on tuna or a canned item and bread for a few days. However, there was none to be found. The only thing we could find were canned sardines in tomato sauce, which were pretty darn gross. But we ate them anyway. We also tried canned corned beef (gross but a little better with rice) and canned chicken (tastes like a hot dog...NOT like chicken!)
6. Nsima - this is a staple of the Malawian diet. I have had Cameroonian food, and they have the same thing, but it is called Foo Foo. In Kenya it is called Ugali (I think...or Ungali). In Malawi, it is called Nsima. What it is: crushed/ground up maize which is then boiled, like rice, to make a kind of lumpy rice type meal. They then pick this up with their fingers, make it into a kind of ball and use that to scoop up meat or vegetables.
7. Kids in Sacks - I guess a picture would be better, but instead of spending hundreds of dollars on baby carriers and misc products, they take a length of fabric, put the baby on their back, and wrap the fabric around the baby and their back like a sling and off they go. To top it off...see number 8.
8. Things on Heads - after strapping a baby to their back, they put their items on their heads, be it wood, luggage, water or the like and off they go again. They must have necks of steel.
9. Aging - The average age of people in Malawi is about 38. 52 percent of the people here are under 20. These figures may not be spot on, but I have heard this a few times. The main reason for this is AIDS.
10. TIA - This is Africa. This phrase was given to me by a fellow traveler. It basically means, chill out man, this is just the way it is. When your bus is 3 hours late, you cant complain, you can only say...TIA. When you go to a restaurant that has pizza thinking you are going to get a Naples pizza and you get a piece of bread with kale and chicken and some strange sauce on it, you say...TIA. When you get a cab and have to then go to 4 gas stations to find gas because they are all out, you say...TIA. When you finally get to your destination and the place you were going to stay the night has been closed for 3 years you say...TIA.
So, carpe diem! TIA!!!