I know, you don’t need to tell me, this blog title implies that this is all going to be negative. But, whenever someone asks “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?” I tend to choose bad news this way the conversation can end on a high note.
On the other hand, if this title also got you questioning whether or not I’ll be posting a Top 10 on the Positive end of the spectrum, you would be correct. As an English teacher I like to challenge my students to keep their writing balanced; and what kind of a teacher would I be if I didn’t follow my own advice?
One of the most common questions Mike and I are asked is: “What is the hardest part of living in Malawi?”
I’d like to note that as I travel down this list I am speaking for myself and not necessarily my husband though I know he’d agree with me on several (especially #8). Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up to #1.
Number 10: Lizards—
This sounds absurd and such a stereotypically female thing to say but it’s 100% true. Although there are none of the dreaded unbelievably slithery, coordinated, human-seeking, black lizards like there were in Liberia; lizards are abundant here in The Warm Heart. They’re in our house and range in size from a penny (though nowhere near as fat, they’re SUPER petite) to the size of your forearm. Mike and Charlie were walking before David was born and ran into a huge hissing yellow lizard! (Thank God I was back at the house).
These creatures seem to congregate in bathrooms and slither out at the worst possible moments. The most lizard-infested memory I’ve had to date was while staying at Majete where they covered the outside door to the extent that I was literally hyperventilating with Mike rolling his eyes beside me. Thank God, I am not quite as sensitive to these scaly creatures as I once was. *Sigh*
Number 9: Fried Chicken and Chips—
Deemed Malawi’s signature dish (or substitute chicken with the local fish, chambo). Everywhere you look it is chicken and chips and more chicken and chips. How much friend chicken and chips can one country eat?! A lot. And while you can find a multitude of other entrees to eat; the fact remains that the “signature” dish of Malawi is fried chicken and chips. As food enthusiasts, Mike and I were thoroughly disappointed to learn this.
Number 8: All things that Crawl—
There are many things here in Malawi that can crawl, my son not yet one of them: spiders, leaf bugs, millipedes, to highlight a few of my least favorites. ICK! None of these do I find appealing and neither does Mike. He’s especially not fond of the cockroaches that frequent our house at night. Let’s just say to him, they’re the equivalent of lizards.
Number 7: Cars are EXTREMELY Expensive—
I’ll be honest; for me, this is one of the hardest parts of being here, truly. One of those UGH! But God I WANT it! We have decided not to purchase a vehicle for me because of the outrageous costs. Not only are cars unbelievably expensive to purchase; especially for what you are receiving, but the gas is double the cost it would be in the United States, and repairs are astronomical!
For these reasons Mike and I have both decided it is unnecessary for me to have a car; after all, I don’t have a job next year so it’d be simply for pleasure. But, this does mean that I’m extremely immobile and with our house being on the outskirts of Blantyre, it means walking into the city center is out of the question.
Number 6: “Wild” Dogs—
Recently, through further questioning, Mike and I have come to the realization that these packs of dogs we had assumed were wild are actual owned by people around the city. These owners let their dogs out at night to scavenge for their food.
These dogs roam in large packs and are typically only seen at night. However, the ones that bother me are the ones that bark and chase you during the day when we’re walking! There’s even one dog on our street that the owner’s lock OUT of their gate knowing that he’s aggressive and attacks passerby’s. This was especially not great when I was uber pregnant. Moral of the story? Always walk with a rock in each hand.
*WHHHHHHOA, we’re halfway there* (Please sing like Jon Bon Jovi) I leave you with the bottom 5 for now. I mean, really, how much negativity can one post handle? I will leave this post as: To be continued….