This is Africa (T.I.A.)

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!!!


The Walmart of Africa

I was talking to a guy the other day about traveling in Africa. He talked about Malawi, which he said was "the walmart of Africa". I made a comment about why this was, maybe because they greet everyone in a friendly manner at the door? I later learned he had said, "the Warm Heart of Africa".

We are now in Malawi, and the people ARE very friendly. However, it is interesting finally being in Africa. It is kind of what I expected, a little hard to get around and a little bit of a wait for things, similar to Island time. But you get used to that after a while. The buses are overflowing with people. It is not uncommon to ride 6 abreast in a seat meant for 3. And maybe with a child on your lap. Or a chicken. You never know.

We are currently in a place called Nkata Bay, which is in the middle of Malawi and is situated right on the shores of Lake Malawi which is a HUGE lake, and covers basically a third of the country. It is just like an ocean, it has waves and everything, but it is nice to swim in FRESH water! Our hut is situated just on the shore, overlooking the lake. It is great.

We next plan to go to Zambia and camp next to Hippos in a game reserve! Then we will go to Victoria Falls and then on to Namibia, where there are tons of sand dunes and more animals.

I have to keep this short; I am so glad to finally have internet. It has been few and far between! However it is a shared computer and there are always people waiting in line. I hope to get some pictures uploaded, but that has been a total bust lately. I am deathly afraid of losing my camera or memory card, as I have not gotten a chance to upload in a while! More later!


Randoms and Peeves

I decided I would like to have an apartment in Paris. Naturally it will be on the top floor with a balcony with flowers and it will be in a fun neighborhood. Realistically, I could barely afford an apartment in Paris and if I could it would be about 200 SF, in a basement, with no kitchen. Which isnt even that bad really. I would still want it.

I almost left my passport in Portugal. Can you imagine, getting to Spain, after an _ hour bus ride, and realizing you don,t have your passport. Thats one of my fears! Luckily on the way to the bus station I realized and voila, I went back and got it and still made it to the bus on time.

The keyboards in France are weirdly arranged. I guess they use certain letters more than we do, so they arrange it differently. But if you think my spelling or grammer are bad, its not me, its the keyboard. I cant even find the apostrophe or the question mark. The , is zhere the M should be. And obviously the Z is where the W should be.

One of my biggest pet peeves is pushy people, ones who dont wait in line or who cut or push in front of you. And that happens all the time in Europe. Apparently waiting in line is not something that anyone values. Yesterday I was waiting to buy a metro ticket and a lady, her husband, and two kids walked right up to the front counter and demanded the man tell her how to get to the airport from there. Apparenly if you have a question you are allowed to skip the line and go right to the front. However, if you are BUYING tickets, you have to wait. Unless of course you are that lady and in that case you get a quick pass to the front no matter what. I wish I knew how to say HEY, I WAS HERE FIRST, LADY!! in French, or Italian, or Portuguese.

You cannot always find a public restroom when you want it. But it is hot here and I am thirsty. Herein lies the "what goes up must come down" connundrum (otherwise known as the camel connundrum). How much water can you drink before you have to pee? (Look I found the question mark finally) I dont want to have to hold my pee but I am thirsty. Its not like at home, you cant just go into any place and use their bathroom, and I cant justify buying a coke or a water (hence the cycle continue) every time I need to use the potty. So, what is the answer? I admit, I probably dont drink enough water when I am out and about but when near a toilet, I GUZZLE it. Then pee like 3 times, then...camel time.

Sorry this post doesnt have any news. They will probably be pretty few and far beteen in the next few weeks...Internet qctiis getting sparce!!!