Hi this is Lori,
Hello from Malawi!! We arrived here with (essentially) no mishaps -- safe and sound. We have been having a wonderful time. Ketema and his family have been incredible hosts. Yesterday, our first full day in Malawi was a busy one. Dr. Nyirongo from a medical facility in northern Malawi, has been a visitor at Ketema's house the last few days along with us. Each of us brought with us an extra suitcase filled with medical supplies that are going to the Dr.'s facility. Yesterday he took us on a tour of a hospital here in Lilongwe. The conditions of the hospital buildings and grounds were sobering to say the least -- with broken windows stuffed with rags, different buildings for TB, malaria etc. Also the babies -- several women holding three day old newborns. What really struck me though was the friendliness of the people as the Dr. greeted them and asked about their children etc.
After the hospital we went to an outdoor market filled with fresh produce, beans, rice, just about everything you can imagine and of course the rows and rows of dried fish (yes, dried fish). All of the fish, painstakingly set out in carefully arranged piles (so as to make them look more appealing). Yes, the smell was interesting. Again though, the friendliness of the people is astounding. We managed to take a number of pictures!
Next stop was a craft market with dozens of vendors selling carvings, paintings, jewelry --beautiful things. It was a little overwhelming for me as they are very persistent in their selling techniques! Thankfully the Dr. and another friend, Henry Solomon, were there to help us in the negotiations! This was our first of many buying opportunities on the trip but each of us did pick up a few items as souveneirs. After this was lunch at Mamma Mia's! As a group of 9 we managed to put away 5 pizzas! Mom, you would love the crust -- thin as tortillas!
The culmination of the day was and dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant nearby (Shela) that is actually in a private residence. Not to mention a nice relaxing happy hour prior to dinner! We had 13 people total at dinner -- bigger group since we had even more visitors and Ketema's daughters joined us as well. Dinner was incredible with us getting the opportunity to sample many different dishes.
The things that each of us have been so impressed with since we have been here is first of all the friendliness and warmth of everyone we have met, the opportunity to meet such interesting people, the incredibly high level of service everywhere you go, and for me the stark contrast of the simplicity of life here compared to what us Americans are used too. Extremely refreshing!
Enough of my rambling...today we head out to Lake Malawi which we are all very excited to see! I do not believe we will have internet access for a couple of days but will write again when we have the chance! Love to you all!!