Fri 17 Feb 2012 - Sun 19 Feb 2012
Getting to know Blantyre and its people. The CBD (City Business District, or city centre) has three parallel streets, Victoria is where every second building is a bank. Most buildings are small, but there are a few that are maybe 6 floors high. Mechanic Andrew takes us out to a tour of Blantyre - we get to visit all the supermarkets in town. Obviously there is a lot of pride in western shopping here.
The office is near the centre, a compound of a couple of houses and some non-mobile mobile homes, surrounded by a wall and secured by a guard, like most houses here. Lots of new people and new names to remember. Really nice to get a name on an email connected with its owner’s face, nicer to meet old acquaintances again.
Rich will be working with Vincent (Irish, Programmes and Impact Unit head), and has a desk, a chair and a non-networked desktop in another room. I will be working with Herrings (Malawian, newly appointed ICT Manager) and have a chair and an internet cable.
After work we go with Vincent and Robin to the Village Green across the road, where ex-pats and a few Malawians congregate every Friday afternoon. We drink Greens (Blantyre brewed Carlsberg) and hear about life in Malawi and how people got to live here.
On the Saturday, we walk around the centre a couple of times so the map is concrete in our heads. Vincent and Sandra had invited us for a very tasty Sunday afternoon BBQ, and it’s nice to visit someone’s house. Vincent is a great tour guide, showing us all the pubs in town. Not that we’re an excuse to go out drinking.
We’re staying at Kabula Lodge, on Kabula hill in the northern part of town. Owner Alice’s last-born daughter married a Welshman, so we’re favourites. Emmanuel makes our toast in the mornings, he is quite and gentle with the most beautiful smile. Most of the other guests are medical students on their 5th year Stage, there’s the odd professional doing some volunteering (Jenny the Physiotherapist) or research (Christine, Medical Anthropology, her research is something to do with HIV/AIDS and mothers).
It had rained in the afternoons, you can feel it coming by the coolness and greyness creeping in.