Sunday Morning ~ Majete Wildlife Reserve

Sunday morning ~ Majete Game Park

M’pote-pote poyamba potsiriza n’cingwe ~ At first it is only a spinning thread, at the end it is a big string.

~Malawian proverb

April 29, 2018

Hi Everyone,

I’m straddling a thin line. One side is zen: don’t sweat the small stuff. The other side is not giving a shit. I plan and fret about preparing lectures that are cancelled or postponed, I get to clinical sites when the clinic starts, only to wait hours for students to arrive, I write and rewrite a proposal for our midwifery ward only to have changes given to me three days after they were due. I’m downshifting to self-preservation mode.

I got aggravated with my class on Thursday when they were poorly prepared. They’d gotten two free hours the day before because a lecturer from Lilongwe asked to take my two hours of lecture time then didn’t show up. The class sat for two hours, my two hours, and claimed they used it to study. I then had to cram all my content into Thursday lecture time, which, though I complained about it, was not a problem since I was looking for stuff to fill the seven hours anyway. We had group presentations and group number two did a crap job. It wasn’t just a crappy job, though, it was almost as if they were mocking me. That’s how bad it was. I’m a bit softer than the other lecturers and I felt taken advantage of. I was tired and didn’t take it well. I found myself trying to humiliate the students in group two for the rest of the day. Every time a question came up I asked, “Maybe someone in group two could answer that? Yes? Anyone? Wasn’t this what you were supposed to report on? Can you please enlighten the class on this topic?” and they slouched further into their seats and I sunk further into self-loathing. When I got home, flopped on the couch, and told Jordan about my day he said, “Sounds like someone needs a little Amarula in her morning coffee.”

Friday there were big political demonstrations protesting some mismanagement of money by the political party in power. I do not understand the details, but this has happened before and in 2011 twenty-one people were killed. There were a lot of warnings and high anxiety about what would transpire Friday and I was a nervous wreck because we had to get to the airport to collect Paulina, Jordan’s girlfriend who was flying in from Poland. We had to cross the protesters route to get there and weren’t sure if we’d make it. We’d been warned to stay home from work and not go out. Some businesses closed and many schools cancelled. We were on pins and needles waiting to see what unfolded. We were supposed to head directly to the game park after the airport, which meant coming back through town and crossing the demonstrators again. We kept checking in with people who had driven that route to get to the hospital, and all morning the reports came in that the crowd was peaceful. Fortunately, the demonstration did not turn violent anywhere, the letter of demands from the people were peacefully delivered to parliament in all the major cities, and by noon Chimemwe told us it was over. He’d been listening on a radio to the reports and told us it was safe to travel. I’ll be interested in learning what the peaceful protest achieved. We were able to get to the airport along eerily quiet roads to collect Paulina, get back through Blantyre without incident, and down to Majete Game Park before dark. It doesn’t make for as good a story as if we had to brave some smoke bombs and bottle rockets, but I was hugely relieved. 

Now I’m sitting with my tea watching a Nyala couple with their baby walk by on their way to the water hole and I can barely remember my stress. At the water the Nyala don’t seem to mind the elephant splashing himself, the wart hogs drinking along the edges, the baboons running around, or the hot sun. Everyone is getting along fine. As it should be in Eden. Sitting here, lectures, clinics, pain, suffering, and incompetence don’t exist. We saw several male Impala fighting on our early game drive but no one seemed to be getting hurt. One had lost an antler; it was the first time we’d seen that, but since we didn’t see a lion (the only disappointment of the weekend) the male dominance spectacle was the major excitement. It’s been wonderful. Staying here makes me want to start a new career in wildlife management or some environmental preservation. I want a job where I get up every day and spend time in the wild beauty of places like this. I never get tired of this landscape. Even if we didn’t see a single animal on the game drive, I’d still be happy just driving around looking at the incredible trees and dry riverbeds. The fact that we saw waterbuck, Kudu, Eagles, and Bee eaters, is gravy.

No internet here, so no news, which also has a calming effect on my nerves. I’m worried that time is getting short and I’ll have to trade my Malawian professional frustrations for American ones and I’m not sure I like the options. (Now a wet elephant is walling straight toward me…I need to take a photo…)

Wondering if I should move backward

Friday George got word that his Fulbright is confirmed so he will be going to Myanmar in January. I need to decide where I fit into that picture. I won’t have a job there, so won’t go for the year. I will visit, for sure, but for how long is undecided. I am still hoping to come back here and work for a three month period, but only if the model ward gets established. I am looking for funding for that. My book is being translated into Polish and that is almost done, so we will see what happens with that. It’d be fun to go there and travel around for awhile but not sure if that would be this coming year or the next. A  lot depends on publishing details. It’s a little unsettling to not know what I’ll be doing, but that’s another line I’m straddling: believing it will all work out and needing to know NOW! George has finished with medical students. His schedule is so much more civilized. Now he just has to work in the clinic but his teaching responsibilities are done. He’ll be going to the states for an orientation in June for his next adventure, so he’s on auto pilot now. Tomorrow he’s going with Jordan and Paulina to Domwe Island for a few days of camping, then to Mua Mission, then back to Blantyre and we’ll spend next weekend all together hiking someplace beautiful. I’ve got a few more weeks before I’m done with lecturing, then a few after that before I’m done with clinical, so I’ll stay and work this week and join them for the weekend. 

Jordan told me today he was grateful he had a really cool mom. Finally the spinning thread becomes a big string.

Love to all,

Linda


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