Monday, 15 August 2016

Malawi – No water, no power, no problem!

August 4-6

Hello everyone!

The school we are working for in Lilongwe (known by many family and friends now as Li-long-way-away, because I’m that funny and original) have provided us with accommodation. It’s common practice for an international school outside of Europe to do this, saving a lot of hassle and stress for all.

In many ways, this is new for us. Firstly, we have a house (you say bungalow, I say vertically-challenged house). Other places I have lived have been flats in a large block.

It is far larger than what we have been used to coping with in Prague (admittedly, the latter was our budget-conscious choice). We even have a pantry! I have no idea what to do with it as we have so many more cupboards for storage than we’re used to.

We also have our very own garden, which has been put to very good use for sunbathing and barbecues already.

A BBQ is a wise investment in a place where power drops from time to time

The house is one of six on a compound. Not as scary as it sounds, though we do have barbed wire on the walls and a large gate which is guarded by a private security team. Lovely guys.

Employing locals for a variety of domestic tasks (is security a domestic task??) is the done thing by expatriates in Malawi. It keeps employment rates high and boosts the economy to an extent.

We live in Area 47 (my hunch is that the giant spaceship-styled stadium is surely Area 51), on the western side of Lilongwe.

The stadium, built with a Chinese loan, has yet to be used

Area 47 apparently has a reputation for shortages of certain amenities: power and water. This is true of the whole city – almost everyone who arrived with us on Thursday has had their power or water switched off at some point – but seems to happen more commonly in Area 47.

Dinner by candlelight!

We arrived at our house on Thursday evening, as the sun was dipping behind our back garden view, to discover that we had neither power nor water. Our first evening was spent under candlelight, reminiscent of a bygone era. Toilets wouldn’t flush and much-needed showers after an almost 24-hour journey couldn’t be taken.

However, this wasn’t a problem for us. We’d been warned about shortages. Malawi is suffering its worst drought in decades and much of its energy comes from hydroelectric power. Shortages and cuts are going to happen. We were mentally prepared for it, so it didn’t really bother us. TIA.

A lot of people here must have it a lot worse. We live in a lovely house, have met wonderful and fascinating people and are really enjoying this change of pace and priority in our lives so far. If all else fails, they can’t take the sun away from us!

Love you all


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