Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hyena Hunting

In an effort to keep Malawi fun and interesting we thought it would be a great experience to be led into the forest, at night, by a man carrying an enormous gun, to set bait for the hyenas outside their cave, sit 10 feet away on a rock, and wait for them to come to us.

Did I see a hyena? No

Did I hear a hyena? No

Did I sit on the rock for two hours in the cold? Yes

Did I stare at a pile of rancid goat meat for two hours? Yes

Could I smell the rancid goat meat for two hours? Yes

Did the man ever fire his gun to show off? No

Did we ask him to? Yes

Did we ask him to let us take a picture holding his gun? Yes

Did he let us? No

Did he laugh at us when we asked? Yes

Did I have a good time? Oh yeah

Monday, June 20, 2011


Please take note of the exciting new additions on the right side of the screen. I've discovered widgets (little text boxes you add to blogs). I like the word widget so much I've added lots and lots of them.
Please enjoy.

Taking a walk Malawian Style

I've spent the larger part of the past 5 years of my life surrounded by babies, baby products, baby styles, baby fads, baby everything (NICU(premature baby intensive care unit) nurse in a former life). The baby industry in America is a booming one finding solutions and products for the whim of every mother out there. Before leaving for Malawi I attended one of many baby showers, purchsed the Graco Deluxe blah blah blah, and I think it ran me somewhere between $60 to $90.

Now here in Malawi there is no baby r us, and there is no money to spend on items that are only going to get used for a few months.They carry their little ones, and sometimes even their not so little ones, using just a large cloth. Effective, practical, comfortable, and economical.

Simon and I have adopted this particular mode of transport as Simon is still not the sturdiest pup on his legs. It is a delightful hand and leash free solution to our daily stroll through the village. I figure the villagers are going to laugh at me no matter what, I guess I might as well give them something to laugh about. Consequently, since this posting, Simon and I are now responsible for 2 bike accidents, 3 dropped buckets of water and hours of entertainment for every Malawian we pass.

We will be traveling in this fashion to get to the lake for the 4th of July. Simon so far has tolerated about a 12 minute car ride in this fashion... we shall see how he does after 5ish hours.

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Bucket List

Garrett, my nearest Peace Corps neighbor, and I are water bucket carrying masters! I started out with a 15 liter bucket but after some children played an unfortunate prank on me and poked holes in the bottom of it and stood laughing as I got soaked. I was forced to upgrade to the 20 liter sooner than I expected. Buckets here are like cars in the US. The bigger the better and the more you get the cooler you are. I'm currently sitting at 14 buckets and definitely still falling far short of the average Malawian. I will eventually figure out what they are doing with all these buckets.

I know you are dying to know what I could possibly do with 14 buckets...
I present to you in order of favorites:

Katie's Bucket List
Peenelope- my very first bucket. Can you guess what she's for?
hand bucket for bathing
scooper bucket for water
water bucket
big water bucket
bucket with tap for hand washing
dish bucket
dish rinsing bucket
dirty dish bucket
hair washing bucket
dog washing bucket
laundry bucket#1
laundry bucket #2 (I brought too many clothes)
watering can bucket for gardener (afore mentioned bucket with hole)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Um, what have I gotten myself into?

Four days into owning a dog, and I can say with true conviction that moving to Africa, living without water or lights....none of it compares to the emotional turmoil of my new dog (Simon).

I HAD to get Simon. I passed him at least twice a day on the way to work. I watched as the kids threw him, threw things at him, kicked him, never fed him. I came to Africa to do some good, I guess I just didn't think it would extend to the canine population.
Unfortunately, most Malawians do not like dogs. They are treated as we would treat a racoons or possums; they are pests here. Dogs survive purely from scavanging out of garbage pits and stealing food.
Needless to say Simon is pitiful. I was told he is about 3 months old, but the dog can barely walk. I have to carry him outside for him to go the the bathroom, which makes for easy house training, but it breaks my heart. He came covered in thousands and thousands of fleas. It took 4 flea baths and 2 rounds of flea powder to get them all off, so he's now flea free but his skin is still suffering the effects. Every day he becomes a little less shy, but he still trembles and shakes when I pick him up. I'm assuming this is from a combination of abuse and no real positive human interaction.
The biggest challenge now is getting him to eat. He seems to enjoy milk (I'm using milk powder and water), and I've been adding a tablespoon of oil to it to increase the calories. Otherwise he is unwilling to eat much else. I've tried bread soaked in milk, dried fish (he is mildly interested in these), eggs, potato soup, ramen noodles, and chicken (which he loved, but its virtually impossible to get here.) So what do you feed puppies if there is no dog food? And how much should they be eating? And do I worry if he doesn't eat?
I'll be honest I'm not sure how successful I will be at nursing him back to health. If he does make it through puppy-hood how to I begin to encourage positive behaviors? I worry that the past abuse will make for an agressive dog later. What are warning signs of this? So far he hasn't barked, growled, nothing, and he does seem to enjoy being held more and more.

Clearly I am in way over my head. Anyone out there with dog owning experience help me out here!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Puppy

Just couldn't resist him

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Monday, June 6, 2011

Anxiety Meat

As the the previous posts mentions I am having a serious problems finding any protein sources in country. Before arriving in Africa I ate essentially no red meat at all, but I decided real fast to just deal with it, and eat the meat. So I am no meat connoisseur, but I’m pretty sure that after 5 minutes if there if that chunk of meat is still being chewed, then there’s no hope. The problem at my homestay was that my family and I shared a plate, and everything that I didn’t eat was given to the rest of the family. I couldn't’t just spit out giant wads of meat fat onto my plate. Malawians almost never eat meat because it is so expensive. So when they get it, they eat every bit of it. Seriously, I’ve never even seen so much as a chicken bone left on the plate, let alone a wad of meat fat.

I did look at my chair to see if it would work for the Heimlich if I tried, and failed, at swallowing it, but I refuse to have a eulogy that states “she died in a tragic meat fat accident”

In the end, I did the only logical thing I could do. Every Tuesday and Friday night I would sit there quietly, do my best to chew the meat, carefully keep the remaining fat, tuck it all in my cheek like a chipmunk, and sneak out under the cover of darkness to spit it in the Chim. You cannot comprehend the stress and strain this meat put me through.

(With my new culinary independence this problem has decreased considerably. However, restaurants and dining at others houses often results in a flare of my meaty induced anxiety.)