Kuupeza, “chillin” in Chechewa, is more than a vague description of a current action; it is a philosophy of life. Malawi moves to its own leisurely pace, a far cry from the spastic speed of American life. The benefits to such a life are obvious. We all know stress is bad for our health. Ashley and I, however, did find that this indifference to urgency can cause some inconveniences when a busy day is planned.
After our usual breakfast of Irish potates, cased beet-colored meat, white bread, and eggs (to be fair the eggs were dippy, which was a pleasant surprise), Ashley and I arrived at a local internet café almost exactly at the time specified by the sign out front. Despite the supposed opening of the café, the lights were off, the door was locked, no one was to be seen. After about a half hour, two men nonchalantly walked passed, unlocked the doors, said nothing, and flicked on the lights. I guess they were now open. Must be nice to come to work whenever you want.
We quickly checked emails and performed other unimportant internet-related tasks before rushing out. We had a festival to attend. The Road Authority was hosting a private festival to promote AIDS education and awareness. They brought in Partners in Hope to provide free HIV testing to those invited and their partners. (To anyone reading this: I’m sure, by virtue of reading this blog, you support AIDS awareness and testing. If you, like myself, have never been tested, you should get on that because you’re a hypocrite, as am I.) The festival was full of rousing speeches and plenty of comedic relief. At least, that is what we gathered as nearly all of it was in Chechewa.
A few times during the festival the Paradiso dance troupe performed. They sang; they danced; they eventually got Alexis, Ashley, Lauren, and Emily to join them. Nick and I, along with a crowd of probably 70 others, were surprised by the skills of the gyrating azungus. Alas, they were apparently not good enough, as the four girls from the states were asked to dance in the back for the following number. HAHAHA
By the end of the festival, we were all exhausted; it had been a long day. We just wanted to relax. To our dismay, this was actually an option. With the exception of one or two small tasks, our planner was empty for the rest of the day. We could just chill. The girls were taught a new game by some our local friends, while I sat down to write out some postcards to send home. This was only cut a little short due to rolling blackouts that frequent the Old Town district of Lilongwe. The dark, however, did serve to make the stars over Malawi shine even brighter.
Our day eventually came to an end with some food, the discovery of American ketchup and Malawian rum, some music, and shoulder massages. What can I say; it was another great day in Malawi.
Ross “Valentino” Morgan