What will you miss most?
The internet connection and time requirements for this post are just not available but to quickly update this blog I will give it a shot. I’ve been asked a lot lately, how are you feeling about leaving, what will you miss…?
I will miss the three boys; who without shoes, school books or a sense of security have always made me smile. They greet me with a smile every time they ‘find’ me and while they can’t speak English they ask me how I am and if I can help them. Most days it’s just 100 kwacha (about $0.25), sometimes it’s bread and water, other days it’s a wave from Gift telling them to go away, and when I’m alone near the supermarket it’s banana muffins, a jug of juice, loafs of bread and a big hug. They have made me cry in the rain being unable to take care of them properly but they have made me strong. They are the ‘street kids’ of Lilongwe and they make everything seem very ‘real.’
I will miss the guys who shout and shout. Taxi! Taxi! I will miss the negotiation, the ‘ehhh eeway too much’ and I might even miss getting lost though they claim they know where we’re going. I will miss the broken door handles, the Jesus bumper stickers, the running out of fuel and helping to push.
I will miss the sound of a high pitched gentleman hollering ‘Aye-madz!’ meaning little bags of water for sale, always surprisingly cold and only 10kwacha (less than a nickle). I will miss the guys with the roasted groundnuts, the ladies with fruits, the people selling roasted chamunga (cobbed corn). I will miss the lady from Free Market who has the chip stand by the shake-shake-shack and I will miss the mystery meat on a stick. I will miss picking up food on the street corner and having more than you can eat, fresher and hotter than you can hold for less than $3.
I will miss the babies with their big eyes, craning their heads for a curious look at the passing mzungus. I will miss all the patterns of fabric that cradle them against their mothers backs, and I will miss the smile of their mother when I pause to give a thumbs up and ask ‘bo-bo?’
I will miss waiting around. Waiting for a mini bus, waiting for a company car, waiting for lunch and waiting for phone calls to go through.
I will miss the music of the mini bus and the live chickens, fresh fish, drunk madalas and old nuns that climb in with you. I will even miss the harassment, the marriage proposals, the disapproving glares and the way the conductor hangs out the sliding van door shouting at anyone we pass.
I will miss the chamunga (popcorn) lady who does not whisper a lick of English but carries an industrial sized garbage bag of popcorn on her head. When she sees me she carries the brightest smile and delivers the best customer service of anyone in the country. Her popcorn is better than that you get from the movie theatre and a whole bag costs you 100 kwacha, ($0.25).
I will the Airtel corner stands, I will miss the fruit ladies particularly in Area 3 market. I will miss the sachet shop, the bicycle repair shop, the shoe makers and the barbers. I will miss being able to buy everything from hand soap to trousers to windshield wipers and movies from vendors on the sidewalk.
I will even miss the creepers from Tutla’s grocery and the 7-11 bakery. I will miss the Indians, the Arabs, the Lebanese and the Chinese who make Lilongwe the city it is.
I will miss the 5 hour bus rides turning into 12 hour adventures. I will miss my roommate Kelly, her t-rex arms, her Birkenstocks, her bitchy resting face and sharing way too much information. I will miss our dance parties, popcorn nights, battles with tarantulas and navigating through cultural faux-pas, our shared love for co-op camp and every hilarious situation we’ve found ourselves in: remember that one time we tried to order delivery pizza but they wouldn’t deliver or take our order on the phone, and when we did get pizza our cabbie rocked Celine Dion the whole way home.
I will miss the dorms of Nkhata Bay and the lodges of Livingstonia with all the worldly accents and mixed beverages you could imagine. I will miss being so far away from the western world. I will miss the sound of monkeys and birds in the tree tops and the lapping of warm water on huge rocks. I will miss being on top of the world, standing in one country and seeing the mountains of another, realizing borders mean nothing in the beauty of the world.
I will miss my house, the mansion. I will miss Chris playing guitar in the crack-den while I play my drum, where we sit not saying anything for hours just strumming and drumming. I will miss Nate always having a movie to watch or being down for a card game. I will miss Q’s pompous but hilarious comments on how hard it was having a housekeeper in university. I already miss Sam, and our natural organic friendship, our positivity circles and laughs on the day bed. I will miss Fayaz dancing and saving my ass from any potential disaster.
I’ll miss Blessings the receptionist, Patrick the accountant, the unnamed watchman and the quiet cleaning staff. I will miss the ladies, the divas and fashionistas of the office. I will be looking for the next coworker to deem Vengalicious and I will be waiting for the next great quote by Sylvester. I will miss the SACCO managers, their hospitality and the warm welcomes from villagers.
I will miss the daily things that are just ‘normal’ here. No car seats, no strollers, no seatbelts or seating capacity. I will miss the hand shaking and fist bumping. I will miss the smiles and nods and the older ladies who appreciate my ‘Maswera Bwanjis’.
I miss miss the Rastas. I will miss their soft spoken hellos and their meaningful ideas and stories. I will miss the happy pants, the lucky beads, the paintings, the pipes and the purses. I will miss dancing with them at the Black Missionaries reggae concert and hugging them to share the love. I will miss their guitar playing and how they always have everything you need. I will miss their smiles, their dreadlocks, their big hats and bigger hearts. I might even miss other Malawians asking me why I hang out with the Rastas and I’ll miss their look of shock then understanding when I explain.
I will miss the warm breezes, the hot walk up hills and the sweat mustache. I will miss ditch-jumping and traffic sprinting. I will miss waving down a ride any time necessary and being picked up by any truck that feels like it. I will miss riding around in the box of a pick up and never worrying if there are enough seatbelts for everyone. I will miss the crying goats, squaking chickens, cranky women and smelly fertilizer that surrounds everyday public transit. I might miss the ability to shrug off being late and excusing myself with a ‘This is Malawi, pangono pagono’
Maybe most of all will be the music. I will miss the drive-by loud speakers advertising store promotions. I will miss the music from Culture Club and the fusion of sounds for Kuti and Living Room. I will miss the passion people have for dancing and I will miss watching the stress melt away when some Zambian songs come on. I will miss SACCO dance parties, and clapping and chanting with children on the side of the road.
I will miss the waves and the screams from the children. Asungu! Kamingi! I will miss their smiles and their curiosity.
I will miss Malawi because I haven’t finished appreciating it. I am still impatient when simple things take too much time. The unorganized chaos and underlying corruption that makes any progress at all feel like a victory that you cheated your way in to. I won’t miss the immigration officers or the random but frequent police road blocks. I won’t miss the drunken fights or the way some people can treat others.
I will miss Gift, his sound effects, his reassuring voice and every time he tells me ‘osadandaula’. I will miss touring Lilongwe with him, drinking sachets and finding a good spot to play the drum. I will miss the feeling of knowing someone cares about me and thinks I’m beautiful. I will miss being shown around and I will miss treating him to western luxuries.
I will miss Moses, his deep voice and his jokes. I will miss being called ‘miliwad’ and I will miss him constantly telling me he will miss me. I will miss his sneaky smile and his drum lessons. I will miss him always asking me for a cigarette and I will miss helping him try and find love.
I will miss the true and honest friendship. I will miss having someones undivided attention and their commitment to friendship. I will miss never competing with a smart phone for my friends laughter and stories. I will miss staying out late, dancing the night away, trusting perfect strangers and staying in shady guest houses. I will miss their free time and how they don’t mind just sitting under a shade tree for hours.
I’m realizing now I could go on and on for pages and page, days and days. My heart is in Malawi, a small piece on the beaches of Lake Malawi, a small piece in the tea fields and SACCO offices. Another piece behind the waterfall, another piece in area three market… In just six months this place has swallowed me up and spit me out as a whole new person. Now for the transition back….