So well here I am in Malawi finally writing on my blog. Oh and by the way I’m an official Peace Corps Volunteer, Environment ’09 baby. The last 60 some odd days have gone by like ‘swoosh’ yeah like that. On the 22nd of February I stepped off the plane at Lilongwe airport with eager anticipation of what was to come. After some casual greetings we all piled into a bus and headed off to Dedza for eight weeks of language and environment training. Our training schedule left us little time to ponder the extremes of what we had gotten ourselves into, which was probably a good thing. Often I had to stop and look over the horizon saying to myself ‘wow I’m really in Africa.’ Between taking in the beauty of South Sahara Africa and learning the language spoken in the local villages I often forget how much I was missing all the friends and family I had left behind.
Ok more about me in Malawi. After a week at Malawi’s forest college we moved into our home stay villages. “Homestay,” (as they call it in Peace Corps) is designed to immerse us into the culture and language of Malawi and that it did. Getting out of the vehicle was quite the realization, I recall saying out loud, “well it’s on like Donkey-Kong,” this had to be the hardest part of Peace Corps Training. Walking down that dirt trail fallowing my Amayi (mother in chichewa) carrying my huge pack on her head was an eye opener, the whole time I was like, “come on Jacob pull your self together.” She walked me to the small mud hunt where I would spend countless hours in the dark looking over my language books. As the weeks went by I found myself pang’ono pang’ono (little by little) learning and loving more and more about Malawi. By the end of homestay I was ready to move out and make a name for myself at my new site.
Chilombo village (my home for the next two years) is located between Lilongwe and Salima. The road to my house is comparable to either a horrible dirt driveway or a really wide hiking trail. After walking up, down, up, down for about 6 kilometers you arrive at my small brick and grass roof hunt. The house sits near the top of my own hill that over looks the Lilongwe River and the Thuma Forest Reserve. Sitting on the hill looking out over my 3 acres I can see elephants roaming over the land. Down from my house there is one of the oldest Baobab trees in all of Malawi, so they say. Estimated to be over 3,000 years old, for every meter in circumference it marks 100 years of growth, so you can imagine how big this tree is. Back 250 years ago the tree was used as a land marker for the African slave trade. Africans would be taken from Zambia area and brought to the tree then sold off into slavery.
Yesterday was swearing in at the Ambassador’s beautiful house, fallowed by a day of non-stop eating of wonderful American food. Our Peace Corps Country Director is amazing and invited us all to his place for dinner, yeah be had BBQ polled pork, even after being in country for only 60 days I can already appreciate good American food, lol. Today most of us headed out to our sites, which was sad to say goodbye, I am going to miss them a lot. As for me I head out to my site tomorrow and most like will not see another Peace Corps volunteer for the next two months. It is strongly suggested that we stay at our sites for the next three months with the exception of 4th of July, which the Ambassador invites all Americans in country.
Well I hope that the information will suffice for now and I’ll try and write again in two months. Sorry but as environment volunteers we are out there, away from electricity and running water, well besides the river, lol. Ok take care and lots of love from Malawi.
p.s. I got and love all the emails you sent to Victor our CD.