Driving Lessons

Years ago when we were on furlough in the States, Abigail showed her first signs of being a backseat driver. She and I were headed to visit my grandmother, taking small backroads in rural Washington state. All of a sudden she yelled, “Mom! You passed that sign!!!!”

“Which sign?!?” I asked.

“The one that says DO NOT PASS! You passed it!”

While most American kids would have just ignored a road sign that they’d seen for their entire lives, for Abigail it was new and quite distressing! And so she got her first “American driving lesson” that day.

She got another such lesson yesterday. We were driving down what is arguably one of the nicest, widest roads in Lilongwe, if not in all of Malawi. “Mom?” she asked, “How is it possible that more than one car can go the same way we are going and that there are 2 lines of cars going the other direction too?”

I smiled, knowing that probably 95% of all her car travels have been on two and one lane roads, paved and unpaved, but very rarely marked. “Well, there are special lines on the road that tell us what we can do. The big bunch of lines in the middle of the road separates us from the cars going the other direction, and the white dotted lines here separate us from the other cars going the same direction. The idea is that more cars can be on the road, going both directions.”

“Wow, whoever thought of that was really smart! That’s a great idea!”

O child of Africa who is fascinated by 4 lanes, you’re going to love furlough road trips in America!

How to MacGyver a Pedal

As we waited our turn to practice before the service yesterday, I saw something under the keyboard that caught my attention. It took a few seconds for my mind to grasp what I was seeing:

Yep, that’s a sustain pedal made from an old stapler! The chapel we rent for church services has a BYOP policy: Bring Your Own Pedal. However, since the last time I played, someone has come up with this back-up plan! I have to admit I was a little afraid of getting shocked by it, so I used the more traditional pedal. But really, this is genius! As Moses, the worship leader, said with a shrug: “TIA!” Yes, This Is Africa. And I love it!

End of the Season

We are in what may be the last series of rainy days for this season. It was not nearly as much rain as everyone had hoped for this year, but at least the maize is up in most parts of the country.

The intensity of these late storms has surprised us a bit. Usually it’s the earlier rains that put on a big show, but on Tuesday it poured!

Take a closer look at those white streaks….

Yep, we got hail!

We’ve seen hail a couple times in all the years we’ve lived here in Malawi, but it’s definitely rare. The girls hadn’t seen it before, so it was fun to share that first with them. And just in case you’re wondering, yes, we do live in the tropics… hail in the tropics – who knew?!

Termites and Rain Frogs

It’s finally raining! We’ve had days of grey and stormy skies, and finally last night it started to rain a nice, slow, sweet rain. 14 hours later, it’s still lightly raining. Ahhhh!

It has rained enough to bring out the second wave of termites – the little ones. So of course they must be caught:

Rain frog and termites - 2

The big termites are better for eating, so these we were just catching for fun. Until… we found something that did want to eat them!

Rain frog and termites - 3

Sorry it’s blurry, this little rain frog was really going places!

The girls watched him catch a few termites himself, then they decided to “help” him.

Rain frog and termites - 1

Here froggy! Have a termite!

You Know You Live in Africa When…

You know you live in Africa when in your 3-5 year old Sunday School class there are more kids who HAVE eaten grasshoppers than have not. Sorry John the Baptist, your food choices are no big deal with this crowd!

MacGyver

Every once in a while, I get to MacGyver something. The latest, my flip-flops:

I love Haviana flip-flops, and I wear them about 80% of the time. I know, they have no support and are killing my feet, but they are so easy, they breathe great in the heat, and they dry quickly in the rains. So when my only pair of Haviana flip-flops broke, I needed to fix them.

The causality was the little button on the bottom of the shoe that holds the toe straps to the sole. Glueing it back together does not work – tried that before. So this time I used a large safety pin, as seen in the picture above. It works great! It’s been there since the beginning of December (6 weeks now), and the only drawback has been that it gets caught in thick carpet. But really, we live in the tropics and thick carpets aren’t very common in our hot wet weather, so it’s really not a problem!

Yes, I will buy myself a new pair of Havianas when we are next on furlough, but for now: problem solved!

Hedgehog!

Our friends the Hirotos have the cutest little hedgehog. Hedgehogs are wild here in Malawi, and usually pretty easy to find during the rainy season, as they get washed away from their homes in the ditches and culverts. I might have to go find one…

Off Adventuring Again!

We have 2 visiting CAPA professors staying with us for 2 weeks, so we decided to pack up the family and the guests and go on a little adventure!

Despite our misadventure on a trip a couple weeks ago, we decided to go back to Kuti, but this time spend the night. Kuti’s prime time is “golden hour,” the hour just before the sunset or the hour just after the sunrise. And if you spend the night, you can be there for both. Kuti did not disappoint. We found a herd of nyala before we even got to the chalets!

Aaron and Myral stayed in one of these nice new chalets, and our family stayed in one of the 4-bed a-frame chalets. Simple, but sufficient.

Hotdogs and s’mores for dinner: great camping food, no matter what continent you’re on!

Then off for a good night’s sleep. The next morning, the girls were up early, so Matt took them out so I could sleep a little longer. Not happening though! It was 5am, but the sun was up, the zebra were braying, and I got up! I grabbed my towel and toiletry bag and headed for the bathrooms. I was a little sleepy-eyed, but glanced down the path as I stumbled to the bathrooms:

Hello nyala! So I, and my towel and toiletry bag, took off through the bush to check out a group of 6 young male nyala. They were beautiful. Myral later told me that he had seen a couple of them sparing shortly before I came out. Speaking of Myral, I found him, and Aaron, and my family all nearby the nyala, checking out a herd of zebra.

The variety of zebra commonly found in Malawi is the Burchell’s zebra, the southern variety of the plains zebra. They’re easy to recognize because of the grey stripes that jump into the pattern.

Having found some animals and my family, I decided I’d had enough of a side trip with my towel and toiletry bag, and headed back to camp to get ready for the day and make some breakfast on the concrete braai (barbecue).

There was a light sprinkling of rain in the morning – just enough to feel wonderful on the skin, but too much for the breakfast plate – so we ate in the thatched kitchen/dining area.

Then we packed up and headed out, in time to see a zebra parade.

Next stop: crocodile farm! We brought our own big mouth crocodiles. Sure are cute for crocodiles, aren’t they?!

The crocs are raised for their skin, which is apparently the best quality at 4 years old. So we saw lots of crocs 1-3 years old. This particular enclosure had 2,500 crocodiles, all 8 months old.

These crocs are 3 years old.

And yes, the workers get right in there with them!!! Not me! Not in a million years!

Naomi and I were only moderately ok with the concrete and chain-length fences between us and the crocs. But it was reassuring to know that in the 15+ years of their existence, this croc farm has never had anyone killed by a croc. Yes, the walls are very secure. It’s just really weird being that close to a crocodile, even with a secure wall!

Then the fun part! Crocodile teeth! We all bought some! 😜

The croc farm is along the lake shore, so we headed down the coast a little and went for a swim!

The only crocs in this part of the lake were the cute kind!

After a swim, we ordered lunch at the Livingstonia Hotel and enjoyed both the company and the beautiful setting. We’ve known Aaron for 12+ years, so it’s been so good to catch up with him!

If you can see the water from your table, you should order the fish! The local favorite is chambo, a variety of tilapia, and it’s really good!

One more stop in the way home: the wood market. It’s very touristy and rural Africa, but a great place for visitors to pick up a few souvenirs. Or to find a chief’s chair and sit back to watch people walk by.

My find of the day: new earrings. Can you guess what they are? (Hint: look up 6 pictures)

That’s all – we were all adventured out! Time to head for home and a nice warm shower!

Who’s going to come adventuring with us next? 😊

Tanzanian Blue Leg Centipede

The girls are already in bed tonight, and they just missed a little excitement! I saw something scurry down the hall way toward the door that goes to the back porch. It took me a second, and a double take!, before I realized it was a Tanzanian blue leg centipede.

I yelled for Matt, of course! He grabbed the large Rubbermaid container from the sink that we had just eaten leftover chicken pot pie out of and caught this guy!

If you want to see him in action, click here to watch our video on YouTube! Warning: he’s definitely bigger and freakier in the video!