30 November 2017

Hello again – I’m blogging in the rain, just blogging in the rain…

Chris had intended to take me out to Mamarula’s as it is our last evening but just as we were due to set off there was a torrential downpour, Stephen’s yard was under a couple of inches of water, and when it continued for over half an hour I chickened out and volunteered to come up with a tasty meal composed of whatever was left in the fridge instead. Ask Chris later what he made of it, he was very polite about it, but he had been looking forward to a slap up meal, and was served up tinned sardine and groundnut risotto…… with a choice of mango or guava from the tree outside the house for dessert! Throughout the evening we have been joined by one of the resident spiders, who seems to be watching us. He (she?) is very symmetrical.

Today there was a bit more admin to do, and the vehicle had to be prepared for the drive to Malawi tomorrow. We ran a few errands and popped in to visit an old friend at St Paul’s Chipata, it was nice to catch up.
Stephen then took us to see various sights around the town, including the railway station where a freight train was being loaded, the golf course which was where John first started playing, and the allotment garden Stephen has in the town, where he is growing strawberries, aubergines, tomatoes, sweet potato, and pumpkins. We had a tour of some areas of Chipata we had not seen before including ‘Kanjaria Drive’ where there are big old ‘colonial’ houses behind tall walls with huge trees in the gardens – the smart part of town! Like any town, Chipata has its rich areas and poor areas.

We caught up with Rachel, Stephen’s wife, when she came home from today’s exams. She has exams every day for 3 weeks towards qualifying to be a primary teacher. They have had teaching practice, and exams every term, but these are the final exams; we wish her well!! Next time we come here she will probably be teaching a large class of 6 year olds somewhere in the local area!

We shared a ‘sundowner’ with Stephen and looked back at what we have done on this visit, and what have been the highlights.
In a way it has been a ‘routine’ visit, visiting the children we support, their schools, the wells we have sunk, and the authorities we work under and the people we work with here.
There have been lots of great moments: For Chris and me the highlights have been the meetings with each Zoe sponsored child; it was quite moving to meet the boys we have begun sponsoring since our last visit. It also feels really good that we are getting to recognise the 48 children and know their names, and they recognise us and come running to meet us when they see us.
It’s amazing to spend so much time in the rural areas going into the remote villages and being invited into people’s homes. I can’t remember if I mentioned that in one home as we left the grandmother gave us a bowl of groundnuts. They didn’t have a bag to put them in but Stephen found one in the truck. Chris was so obviously delighted (he loves peanuts!) that she went back and fetched a second bowl ! So generous. (Hence the groundnut risotto)
Their singing and dancing was great too.
Chris driving the truck was Stephen’s choice of highlight!

Chris has been writing a report on the visit for John ‘bwana’ Hunt (bwana means ‘boss’!) and finished it this afternoon.

We can tell it’s getting towards bedtime because the noise levels outside are going up; the quail seem to get louder at night, as do some other birds, and last night there were a number of frogs which sounded like car alarms who kept up quite a conversation all night until it got light!
Also, it’s still raining quite hard on the tin roof… I’m glad I’ve got ear plugs! Chris is still refusing them, he’s a hardy chap.

That’s all folks! We’re off to the airport at 8a.m. and as always I am feeling rather sad to leave and want another week! I hope we’ll be back here before too long.

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