We are currently living in Lilongwe, Malawi. This is part of a series in which I share our experience about life here. If there is anything that you would like to know about Malawi, please feel free to post your question in the comments. We would love to do the research on your behalf. Please keep it family friendly.
One thing that really caught my eye is the excessive size of everything here. From nature to the variety of cars, the shortage of food to the excessively warm people.
As we landed here 4 January 2013 we were firstly struck by everything being excessively green. From November to about February it seems to be close to monsoon rainfall. It literally turns green overnight! This causes excessive growth with plants growing excessively big and excessively fast! I’ve noticed plants here that grow outside, in the garden but I remember the same plants grown indoors by my mom and her green fingered friends!
The next thing that I noticed was the excessive neighbourhoods! Some of the neighbourhoods are divided in excessively sized yards, which are referred to as plots, with excessive walls surrounding every property. The wall around the property where we live are over 8ft high with a solid gate. Every property in the area where we live, looks the same.
This however is not a symbol of an elaborate house or excessively flashy lifestyles. It’s just the way it is. I’ve not been able to establish the reason for these excessive walls surrounding the huge yards. Please understand, I am not complaining! It gives us freedom to explore every leaf and critter and allows us to settle in peacefully. The properties are also not in numerical order. Street names seem to be a formality and bears no value at all. The ‘tattered’ roof is actually a very practical way to protect the roof from the extreme heat in summer. Quite clever really!
Another excessive occurrences is the volatile currency. The middle of 2012 posed a severe turning point in the economy of Malawi when the Kwacha, which is the local currency, were devalued with +- 30%. The consequence were and still is severe.
Food prices, property prices, fuel prices, everything suddenly became excessively priced. What we would see as ‘basic necessity’ in South Africa such as sugar or salt or sunflower oil are excessively priced and has my elaborate Jamie-Oliver-Style-Cooking changed to simple and fresh.
Certain times of the year food shortages are a common occurrence and am I not exactly sure how extreme it will be or how to combat that. We will be starting to stock up on the normal (basic and almost) affordable items. I’ll write up my experience about food products in the near future.
Another excessive observance I’ve made, are the people. They are excessively warm and hardworking and beautiful! Malawi is also called the ‘Warm heart of Africa’ and my experience is so true! Although I sense a scepticism from the locals towards ex-pats, they are such a loving people. They are eager to help and share. I’m amazed by the entrepreneurial spirit of the people. They all try to make a plan, see a need, fill a need (in the spirit of Big Well Fans everywhere!). We can buy fresh produce from every other street corner which rivals in quality, flavour and price with the supermarkets and shops. Airtime, baskets, live chickens and fish are some more items for sale.
That’s it for now. I’ll try to post a snippet every Monday for a while about this new adventure we’ve embarked on. Once more, if there is anything you would like to know about Malawi and life here, please feel free to ask your question in the comments below. We would love to do the research on your behalf as long as it’s family friendly!
Thanks for visiting until next time!