Simply put: today was amazing. Being our day off from visiting CBO’s, we spent it resting and relaxing with friends.
After a much needed morning sleeping in, Alf picked us up in a Subaru (Alexis’ favourite), and took us on a joy ride ‘round town. He showed us the new parliament building, giant convention center, and the “grand” new hotel (all being built by the Chinese). Mixed feelings anyone? Yes. Having so many friends who work so hard in rural impoverished areas, it’s difficult to see the government spending so much time, effort, and resources on opulent buildings for the government to use. The other side of the coin: will this help the economy and invest in the future of Malawi? One can only hope.
In any case, our afternoon with Alf was lovely. He and his witty wife MaryAnn shared lunch and drinks with us on their back porch overlooking their yard full of flowering shrubs and fruit trees. Gypsy their black lab, and Lady their “naughty” dog ran around adding to the fun, as we talked about life, Malawi, and how good Alf looks in his Tchenge pajamas.
Along with learning about Alf’s numerous hobbies, and his lovely family, we also began to peer into more problems with Malawi. Problems like Malawi’s empty Reserve Bank, or the questionable practices and investments that their president has been implementing since his second term started: a new flag that no one seems to like, permission of a huge influx of Chinese workers building the huge opulent government buildings who also sell products that are of such low price and quality its laughable, and a port for ships in the Shire River in a landlocked Malawi which only has worsened tensions with neighboring Mozambique. The frustration is palpable when these subjects come up. Thankfully the bliss of Alf and MaryAnn’s oasis home kept our blood pressures down and spirits high.
After picking lemons, eating fresh lemons which caused our faces to pinch so hard our jaws cramped, and discussing how we all should camp out in Alf’s back yard, we had to leave.
But there’s more…
We ate at a Chinese restaurant (more mixed feelings). It had giant lazy susans, delicious dumplings, and … wait for it….. Bie Joau (fire water). (shout out to my Heinz Chapel Choir China friends).
All in all, it was a good day.