We had such a miserable time climbing Mt. Mulanje (totally worth doing though, I’d recommend it, we’re just not all that physically fit), that you’d think we’d have agreed never to go hiking again. Guess how we spent the past three weekends? Yup, first we took a trip to Zomba, we went to the market, which was eerily calm and quiet compared to Blantyre market where the sellers shout their throats raw trying to get your attention, and the next day we hiked up to the plateau. The following weekend, after watching a netball match between Malawi and South Africa (Malawi lost by just two points! Apparently Malawi are supposed to be the best at netball in Africa, and 5th best in the world) we spent Saturday morning at Mt. Michiru,which is one of the three mountains surrounding Blantyre. Actually we spent more time walking to and from Mt Michiru than we did at the mountain itself, we didn’t hike to the summit but we saw some kind of antelope and explored a hyena hide. Our goal is to hike up all three of the mountains surrounding Blantyre and last week we ticked another off the list by hiking up Mt. Ndirande. We took a bus part of the way and spent a while wandering around trying to figure out which path would take us up the mountain, but we made it all the way up. A group of young boys followed us up for about a third of the way, which was a little bit unnerving, and then we had a slightly scary encounter with a woman who didn’t seem to speak any English, but was holding a massive panga and was quite keen to show us something behind a big rock. We politely denied the invitation and carried on up to the top where we sat at “Kamuzu View” and ate our lunch. The view was amazing, it made the Blantyre region look so small, there was a road with houses and shops all along one side and nothing but fields on the other, you could see exactly where the urban and rural areas begin and end.
The school year is coming to a close and a lot of the kids have been receiving their exam results. Some of them did really brilliantly, which wasn’t a surprise in most cases because there are some seriously intelligent kids at Samaritan’s. Chikondi (the boy who speaks at the speed of light) was running around on Friday repeatedly shouting, “Ndakhoza maeso! Ndisangalala!” (I passed my exams! I’m happy!) Unfortunately not all of them did so well but seeing their papers gave us a good idea of what kind of things we need to be working on with them. A teacher wrote on one of the girls’ report card that she’s smart but her attitude gets in the way, which Catriona and I completely agree with, but we’ve seen a real change in her attitude this week and Catriona’s been doing loads of work with her this week.
This week has been really cold. Previous complaints about being cold have lead to to exclaims of, “You’re cold?! You’re in Africa!!!” Yes, it does get cold in Africa. What’s more, we live in a pretty basic house without any kind of heating or insulation. So yeah, we’ve been pretty cold recently. I’ve finally resorted to heating up water for bucket showers and I’ve even mastered the art of wearing socks with flip flops. I was speaking to the kids at Samaritan’s this week and it had been that long since I needed to use it that I actually forgot the Chichewa word for ‘hot’.
On Thursday’s at Samaritan’s we have CSI. No, that’s not Crime Scene Investigation, but Christian Service International. We sing hymns in Chichewa then listen to a Bible story before more hymns and a closing prayer. I think the CSI team are originally from the US so the stories are told in English and then translated into Chichewa for the kids so it works out well for me. This week during the second lot of hymns Rosca, who was sitting next to me, said, in between song lines, “Louise, I want maths. Times.” I love how enthusiastic the kids are to learn. We found out recently that Project Trust aren't sending volunteers to Samaritan’s again this year, and although there are many valid reasons not to, it’s still sad that the kids won’t have anybody to turn to and say, “Give me maths” or ”I want English”. No way for them to really fulfil their desire and capacity to learn.