Malawian Rice Vendor

Thursday, 7 July 2011

What if ??????............

We are sitting here on our balcony made of reeds overlooking our little slice of paradise.  The sun has long since set, a cool clear water of lake malawi is gently lapping against the rocks. In the far off distance, the lights from the small fleet of fishing boats glimmer their soft reflections against the tranquil waters.  The crickets are in the background singing their evening song.  The beat of african music is heard in the far off distance.  Erika is having a bit of a day...  Reflecting upon the what ifs?  I am not sure if it was the fact that when we visited the local clinic we were told that there was no rubbing alcohol or hydrocortisone to help our aching, itchy bites or the fact that we were many miles and many hours away from civilization.  A little history if you will, the night that we first met, I was able to get Erikaś phone number but of course not wanting to seem too eager, I waited the obligatory couple of days before I decided to call her.  Lucky for me I called with a few minutes to spare, in actuality she had given her number out a few times that fateful evening and she decided that whoever was to call first would be the one she would go out with (a little cocky in her young years).  It is my understanding that one of the other competitors was a computer geek working for intel who by now is probably a multi billionaire sitting on his yacht sitting somewhere in the Mediterranean most likely the French Riviera.  Right at this moment she could be sipping cold, champagne and eating fois gras instead of eating nshima (corn porridge) and beans and carefully checking her bottled water to make sure the seal has not been tampered with.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..........  Africa can have that kind of effect on a person.  We both feel like we are reasonably well traveled.  However, nothing we have experienced or endured before has quite compared to sub sahara africa.  The huge majority of transportation methods is extremely old, very run down, and quite slow.  Most roads that we have traveled are in poor condition at best.  The public transport is overcrowded to say the least.  Accomodations throughout are not in the least bit inexpensive.  The dollar value compared to other developing nations is extremely poor.  Even pitching a tent at a campsite is quite dear.  In general, food "except for Flatdogs camp" is basic.  High carbs, either white rice or Nshima (corn porridge) a few scattered vegetables and hardly any protein, all at an inflated price.  Of course there are two different price levels on most everything.  There is the local price and then the "masunga" price. 
We are in the dry winter season so dust is everywhere.  It gets into our clothes and our eyes and after most of our rides, we are literally covered in a brown haze.  It does beat the wet season where mud would make a lot of the roads we have traveled impassable.  The usual insect population inhabits most everywhere though there does seem to be more of them even in the big cities.  Malaria mosquitos are endemic throughout.  Luckily the colder weather on this side of the equator makes it so they are not as prevelant as during the wetter, more humid times but still...   The poverty here is grossly understated back home yet almost all of the people we have encountered seem very happy if not completely content.  I don't think Erika would trade all of this for that balcony room at the all inclusive resort in Cancun however, I am afraid to ask..............

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