Greetings friends & family! I have to give a shout out to everyone whom I’ve received mail and packages from recently- (letters) Gina, The Beckers, Ben, Nard Dog, James, Ryan, and (packages) the Kings, the Dorrs, and my family! (and thanks to my sister Kara for the amazing birthday presents!) You guys have no idea how exciting it is to go to the post office and there actually be something there waiting for me. I feel like every time I’m just as surprised as the previous time that stuff actually shows up. The postal system is amazing, and I’m pretty sure just about everything everyone has sent has actually reached me. I feel like packages always show up at the best time- i.e. when I’m sooooo tired of cooking or happen to be very hungry at the moment I open a package and there are oreos inside, haha. Patti seems to be receiving just as many presents as me... she is making such a good impression on all you guys, and unfortunately, you guys will probably never meet her. Do not worry though- she appreciates the presents just as much as me. She has no idea how lucky she is!
So I’m totally ripping this blog post idea off of my best friend Kathi, who did a little “average day in the life” post, so… here is what I might do on an average day.
I get out of bed by 6am, I often wake up before then and maybe read or surf facebook on my phone before getting up. I get out of bed, open all my windows (they’re closed at night to keep out mosquitoes… and robbers). I open my back door to go to my chimbudzi (local toilet), and Patti (anxiously waiting for me to feed her) sits outside my chimbudzi waiting. I grab a big handful of usipa (these tiny fish dried in the sun, they are the main staple of protein here in Mlowe… I’m not a big fan, but Patti loves them) and put them in Patti’s bowl out back. Then I eat breakfast- if I’m lucky, I made a boiled egg the night before to eat, or I have hot water in my thermos to make oats if I have them. Otherwise I may eat something from a package (thank you everyone who has ever sent me granola bars!!). I don’t drink coffee or anything, so I feel no need to make a fire in the morning.
So yeah, I eat my breakfast, read a little bit, and I get to my health center by 7:30am. My health center is funded/run by the CCAP (Church of Central Africa Presbyterian) so we do prayers and hymns every morning. After prayers, I do whatever the HSA’s (Health Survelliance Assistants) are doing- which could be an outreach growth monitoring clinic (where we weigh children under 5years to monitor malnutrition) or it might be a day where people come for the Supplementary Feeding Program, or an immunization campaign. If nothing particular is going on, I talk with the HSA’s talk about what’s going on in the village, health issues, etc. I’m lucky that my HSA’s are pretty awesome, and we share a lot of information with each other. I ask about Malawi, and they ask about America- it’s an equal exchange (and directly address the 2nd and 3rd goal of the Peace Corps, woot woot). I should note that Patti is present for all of this- she follows me to the hospital to play with all the dogs that live here, and everyone knows her, she is very famous.
At noon everyone goes home for lunch, so I head home. Give Patti some more usipa. If I’ve planned well, I have some leftovers from dinner the night before- which I may have eaten for breakfast- if so, then I eat breakfast food (eggs, oats, granola bar) for lunch. I’ve always felt that food has no certain time of day, its just food, it’s for whenever you’re hungry. Oh, sometimes I make a salad as well (which is often just tomatoes, but hey, its salad like). I often take a nap after lunch, or just lay in bed and read for a while, because it’s really really hot at this time and nobody is doing anything anyway, so I’m not missing out. After that, I take care of my chores for the day- picking up some tomatoes for dinner, doing dishes or laundry or bathing in the river, stop at the post office, chatting with people all along the way (and Patti following).
Late afternoon/early evening (4:30-5) I start to light my (new!) bawula, which is a charcoal stove. You put charcoal in the top and start a fire underneath until the charcoal gets hot- it takes awhile, but it stays hot for a really long time, so I can do a bunch of cooking in a row. I’ll probably make myself some rice and beans or soya and pasta, making extra to eat the next day. I have this porridge that’s for babies that I give to Patti to supplement her usipa diet, so I make that when I’m done with my food, and Patti stares at the pot the whole time as she knows its almost her dinner time (6pm). When Patti is fed, that’s when I boil eggs or water for my thermos, as the bawula is now super duper hot and perfect for boiling. The bawula has made cooking so much easier, and helps me organize my meals, which is great. While I eat dinner I either listen to music (if my phone or kindle is charged) or read. After dinner, I write letters, or journal (by candlelight). Or I workout! I made a workout mix on my phone, so I listen to that, do some resistance bands, dance around, etc. Patti is not amused by this, so she usually takes this as an opportunity to sneak off to my bed for a snooze.
By 7pm its totally dark, so usually I’m in bed- of course, after I’ve lured Patti out of my bed and the house with a treat, because even though I love her terribly, I still want her to sleep outside. I read in bed or (if I was able to charge my computer at the health center that day) watch some TV or movies on my computer. Then I fall asleep. I probably haven’t willingly fallen asleep this early since I was in elementary school, but I mean, it’s dark. I don’t have electricity, and you can only do so much by candlelight anyway (and hey, candles cost money too). It’s better to wake up early and take advantage of all the daylight than stay up at night, so oh well.
So now that I write that all out, it doesn’t seem that interesting, haha. But it is my most average day. It might not seem like much, but everything just takes so much time here. I like the slow pace of life- I’m never bored, there’s always something to get done or someone to talk to. I’ve also read like more than 30 books since being here, haha. Sometimes I have meetings during the week with community groups in the afternoon, and I’m meeting new people all the time in my village (still! There are a lot of people… and only one me). Then I have days that are totally not average- which are the days that I usually write about in here. Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little glimpse in the life.
Next time I’ll write a blog on the fun and stress that is Renee trying to get out of her remote village to the city. That’s some work!
I’m in Mzuzu right now, doing some banking and errands on my way to my friend Robert’s in Nkhata Bay to see friends for the weekend. I’m excited! I got into Mzuzu yesterday, after I went to Rumphi boma (boma kinda means like the “city” party of your district- its where all the government offices are- Rumphi is my district) to meet the District Health Officer with my counterpart. The district hospital is not directly charge of my hospital, but only the Health Survelliance Assistants, as they are still funded by the government. The main hospital that oversees my health center, is the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia, and will be celebrating 100 years in August! There’s going to be a celebration and I am excited to go.
So things are going well. In-service training next month- it will be the first time that I’ve travelled south of Nkhata bay (which isn’t even south, its still the northern region) so I’m not looking forward to travelling all the way to Dedza in the central region (it will probably take 2 days). They partially combined our training- so the first week of training my entire training group (environment and health, all 44 of us) will be at Dedza together. It will really be a trip to be with the whole group again back at our old stomping grounds (Dedza College of Forestry, where we had PST). It will be great to hear from everyone and exchange ideas.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. I updated my wishlist as well, for anyone who may be planning to send me some treats J I mean hey, Christmas is just around the corner- at least, when you consider that it could take 1 or 2 months for a package to get here, haha. Everyone else, keep in touch! I love getting your letters and writing. I hope you all are doing great, and I’m sorry that summer will soon be over for you guys at home. Hot season is on its way here, and I gotta say I only keep hearing terrible things about it. We’ll see how my average day changes come hot season!