Thursday, June 01, 2006


Greetings from Lilongwe, the first of many posts from here I'm sure.

After waiting and waiting and waiting to get on a plane, I waited another 16 hours (with an agonizing refueling in Dakar where they wouldn't let us get off!) to land in Johannesburg, and then waited another two hours for a two-hour flight to Lilongwe. All totaled, I spent 22 hours traveling (not counting trips to and from the airport). By the time I arrived in Malawi, I was stinky indeed.

But elated. I had arrived!

Lilongwe is a rather sleepy capital. On a scale of one to bustling, it kind of ambles. However, for me, everything is still new, still wonderful. Plus, I'm ready to relax a bit. Africa time = Mtanga time.

Everything is very spread out, and combined with petty theft, driving everywhere is a must. Luckily, we (my roommate and I) have access to a motorpool, that picks us up every morning and drops us off every evening. Although I like being chauffered (who wouldn't?), it does take me back to the days when I had to rely on my dad to drive me everywhere. It makes one very dependent on the availability of drivers, and when they are scarce, a virtual prisoner in your home.

Home, what a great word. The house is terrific! It's big and empty and furnished with government issued items (cheap bedsheets and scratchy towels) and it's awesome. Yesterday I was home when the cable guy arrived (you read right). He also hooked up our phone system; I am able to call the US directly from my house - and if you live in a DC or surrounding area code, I can do it for free! I am just waiting for my HMF to return from his trip.....

We have a gorgeous tropical garden and huge poinsettia plants growing up and down our driveway. Our kitchen does indeed have two large fridges, as well as a washer/dryer and water filter so we can quench ourselves without getting worms (let's here it for no worms!). There are two terraces, an unused dining room, unused bedroom, two bathrooms, a study (which I took over for my research) and two bedrooms (mine is getting the bednet installed today). There is also a large, relatively sparse living room with comfy couches and a tv with a DVD/VHS player.

Not. too. shabby. As I wrote to one of my friends, "Big house with relatively few expenses. This is how all graduate students should live!"

Today is my first day on the job. Was introduced around to everyone and am now left to my own devices in my "own" office (with internet). I am so blown away by it all. I am still amazed that I am even here! When I was introduced to the finance department, I just wanted to give them all hugs - for it was them who found the money for me to come. Thanks guys!

Next on my list: getting ahold of contact lens solution (forgot it!) and lip balm.

More adventures to come,



kd said...

oh, I'm excited for you! Send pictures!

emira said...

Finally. I've been checking your blog for 3 days now and nada until this morning. How exciting? Yes, pictures are a must. I hope you got the camera to work. Oh, but wait you found the cord while we were on the phone. Anyway, enjoy your fancy new large house and don't forget that you're in Africa. Ha! Me jealous. Miss you lots and can't wait to hear more stories.
Lots of love.

Megan said...

I tried calling you Tuesday night and your phone was already off! :( So no goodbye for my girl. But! I miss you and love you and am so glad you're safe in your new home.

In unrelated but hillarious news: my bro-in-law thought HMF stood for 'handsome mutha-f---er'. I corrected him, but I think he's nonetheless close to the truth.

Mr Reasonable said...

Hi there,

I lived in Lilongwe back in the 1970's in Area 12. I have just written a post about it and I'm hoping that someone can help find my old house to see if it is still there. I'm guessing from your description that you could actually be very close to it....
This is the post:

Mtanga said...

Mr. Reasonable -
I'm in Area 10. However, I just arrived here a few days ago so I'm still trying to wrap my head around where I'm going. I'll ask around about Lot 1 in Area 12, but do you remember any other landmarks nearby?? Road names?

Mr Reasonable said...

Here's the funny thing, back in 1978, there were no road names except for the main streets! How did we get around you ask? Slowly and with lots of detours..... All I remember is that the house was on the corner plot. I have tried to find a map of Area 12 to see if I recognise any of it but have failed so far.
I hope you have as much fun in Malawi as I did as a kid. The people are truely kind.