What up gang? Ashleigh here. I’m in Lilongwe after yet another long stretch of time away from site and going home today. But I thought I give you all an update before I disappear for a while…
Now for the tale of hippos, travel, lake shore, and puppies galore!
The Monday before last my friends who are serving in PC Rwanda, Sarah and Jarod Ring (the married couple who kinda started all of this for me) came to Malawi to visit while they were on vacation. We went South to Chloe’s site for a couple of days. I was worried they wouldn’t think it wasn’t that exciting, but our little trip to Liwonde was a lot more exciting than I expected!
First we had to take bike taxis into Chloe’s village and it was the first time they rode on those. Since Chloe lives about 5km from Liwonde National Park, so the next morning we took more bike taxis into the Park and the ride was so beautiful. We arrived at the park and passed through giant, looming palms with trampled foliage from the Elephants scattered on the forest floor. We watched baboons leap from tree to tree and large water birds swarm near the Shire river.
To get to the main park you have to cross the Shire, so we waited at the docks for a boat and while waiting we were privy to seeing a crocodile swim around near us. The boat arrived and ferried us across to Mvuu Camp (Mvuu means Hippo). The river and the scenery surrounding it was gorgeous.
We arrived at the camp, greeted by ancient towering baobab trees and a cool breeze. We visited the main welcome center of the camp, perusing the gift shop and such, ordering lunch for later and making our way to pool. We had a couple hours before lunch so we just spent the rest of the morning lounging around a sparkling blue pool, swimming and enjoying the beautiful day.
After a delicious lunch of layered tuna club sandwiches and cold fantas, we spent a little more time at the pool, mainly sun bathing and reading, listening to music and chatting. We had to kill time because the boat going back across didn’t leave until 3. On our way back out of the camp we spotted a group of warthogs munching on the grass outside the main camp center.
Normally Chloe rides the staff boat, which is a dinky tin boat, back and forth but since there were so many of us they offered to take us across on one of the tour boats (with a covers and nice seats). As we were making our way across the man driving the boat pointed out of brown lumps on the the water surface in the distance identifying them as hippos. Naturally we were all excited and wanted to take pictures, so the man guided the boat out of the way past the hippos floating the the water. The only camera I had tho was my iPhone and so you can’t see them that great, but it was so much fun! And you want to know what this whole adventure cost us? PALIBE! which means NOTHING! Well ok, we bought lunch, but we didn’t have to pay to enter the park, swim or get a mini boat safari and it was ah-mazing!
Over all it was a nice little trip and it was great to see Sarah and Jarod again and have them see what Malawian villages and PC is like. On Thursday morning they left to head up North to Nkhata Bay while Chloe and I hung out at her house for another day. It was actually a lot of fun because we gave a health talk at her health center to some ladies who recently gave birth. We ate lunch with one of her friends and met lots of her neighbors.
On Friday we headed up to Cape Maclear for the Easter weekend. We hitched up to Mangochi, where my jeans ripped as I was climbing out of the back of a pick-up, but luckily there was a tailor near by and I was wearing my chitenje, cuz otherwise my bum would’ve hanging out. I showed a lady at the tailor the problem and she quickly grabbed me and pulled me into a room to remove my pants. The guy patched up the giant rip with a piece of denim in about 10 minutes and it only cost 100mk! It was great and you can hardly even tell they ripped!
We finally made it to the Cape and set up our tent on the beach since we were camping to save money. A couple other friends were there and we all ate lots of awesome, giant fish, swam, sun bathed and relaxed.
One of the days we went into the Park Reserve nearby to this place called Otter Point which was a small lagoon with giant boulder to climb around on and beautiful green, clear water to swim in hundred of cichlids. The walk to the Point was awesome. There were tons of baboons and monkeys just walking around like it was no big deal. They’d saunter across the path or pick through trash pits near by, pause and watch us pass and scurry about chasing each other in play. One baboon even had a tiny baby baboon riding piggy-back on its mother. It was incredible.
While we were at the lake my friend Briana wanted us to do a “Chitenje Photo Shoot” for a spread in the PC Malawi 50th Anniversary coffee table book. There’s going be be a spread with 100 uses of a chitenje with pictures she took for it while we were there. I don’t have all the pictures she took, but my favorite on of me is with a chitenje as a pad for a basket with my face half under the water. It’s a wicked shot! This other photo isn’t for the book, but it’s my friends Daniel lounging on the bench we stuck in the water after the shoot was over. It was a lot of fun, I felt like a real model lol!
And speaking of the 50th book, aside from lovely photo shoot, I will also have a poem of mine featured on the back cover of the book! I’m pumped It’ll be like I’m getting published for the first time! *happy dance* Very cool.
Puppies, Puppies and More Puppies…
Monday, this week, I returned to Lilongwe and on Tuesday attended the new volunteer’s Swearing-In Ceremony. I can’t believe they’re already official PCVs! It feels just like yesterday we were greeting them at the airport and spending their first week of homestay with them. I’m excited tho and CONGRATULATIONS all of you!
The rest of this week has been spent doing some work and spending time with the health volunteers before me who are all COSing and heading back to America. It’s been a crazy week and kind of sad and I’m not sure it’s really sunk in yet that they’re all gone.
So, right, puppies!
Right before I left to go to Chloe’s with Sarah and Jarod, 5 tiny puppies wandered into my life. Quite literally.
One day I started seeing puppies hanging around by my house and they’re so young and cute and I had no idea where they came from but they were just around. One morning I hear one crying a solemn bay, lost in the maize behind my house. I thought if I could just catch him and put him back out in the open he’d be ok, but after chasing him for 30 mins, I gave up. But around 5:30 I could still hear him crying and decided I couldn’t just let him wander, lost all night. So I went and hunted him down and actually caught him this time.
He was so cute and tiny and scared. I took him home that night and gave him some food and water and a warm bed to sleep in. The next morning I let him go with a heavy heart, knowing I at least saved him that one night…
An hour later he came back.
Without making this story too long I’ll give you the main highlights. I took the puppy to the owner (who turned out to be the same people I got Nzelu from) and the woman explains that the reason they were by my house was because the mother moved them to a banana tree behind my house, that they actually thought maybe they all were killed because no one knew what happened to them. She then begs me to take it at no cost and any others I want too.
Well within the next 3 days after that my one puppy multiplied into 5. They kept showing up one by one, even once one left and returned with another. I was suddenly the proud and annoyed owner of 5 6 week old puppies. Yes they were cute and loving and amazing, but no way in hell could I care or manage SIX dogs. So in a rushed, insane attempt to rescue them all from a stray, terrible village life, I decided to fine them new homes!
For the last week they’ve been living at Helen’s but I found new homes for 3 of them with the new volunteers and the other 2 I gave to the SPCA yesterday. I knew that they’d get vaccines, spay/neutering and good food, and since they’re so young I know they’ll probably get adopt quickly since people usually go for puppies. The lady even said I could touch base with them and find out what has happened to them later if I want.
it’s been really crazy, but I know it’s for the best and I’ll feel better about it when it’s all over. It’s just been a crazy puppy extravaganza!
Now that the week is over, I’m not going back to site finally. I miss Nzelu and Gladys had he baby the day I left so I have yet to meet the new baby! Whom is a healthy baby girl! *happ dance*
Life seems to only even out, just to get more complicated, just to do it all over again. Viva la Malawi
Till next time… Tiwonana!