Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Neilson Family African Adventure! Finally.

This is the most overdue post ever, because I’m a lazy idiot.

The Family came to visit in August… that’s over 5 months ago.  Man, I suck.  Anyway, it was the best ten straight days in Malawi yet.  I loved having them here to see what I see and deal with every day.  I was just so proud to have them here!  Here’s the run-down of the trip:

We rented a car for the trip, because I could NOT see them traveling around Malawi in a matola.  Started off in the airport, which was so much fun to see them step out into Africa!  All jet lagged and disoriented on a continent they’ve never been to before (except Callie).  It was like I had a secret that I knew all about and I wasn’t telling.  It was so cool to have them enter my element. 

We started the tour heading up the lakeshore road for a two-night stay in Nkhata Bay (read “meat buffet”), where Mom and Dad stayed in a stone tree house, like they’ve always wanted.  We stopped at a croc farm on the way and also got a flat tire, so our driver gave us some quality time at the curio stands while he fixed it:

Croc Farm

Callie and I bartering...and winning

Mom, using her charm to get a good price

Dad won too!  Also, its a cool picture.

Then to my house, where I really got to show off!  They met Doug, and Kitty, and Couch, and the Pastor’s family.  They got a tour of the current Health Center and took a hike up to my school.  I got to cook for them and introduce them to the neighborhood kids and they finally realized just how fine I am here, living in Africa all on my own:
My family on my porch with my neighborhood kids!

Callie with the Pastor's wife, who is the penpal of one of Callie's
volleyball friends, Kellyn

My American family with my African dog
Two wee babes reading children's books my parents brought over:

 After that, we headed north to Lukwe for our favorite steaks, stopping at Vwaza National Park for a little safari excursion:

Elephants in the bush

Q: How can you tell the difference between a sleeping hippo and a dead hippo?
A:  You take its pulse!!!! But who is gonna take its pulse?!  If it's just sleeping, it will destroy you!

A BOMB picnic with REAL lunch meat and cheese.
And a few tsetse flies. 
On the way back down, we stopped at the bag ladies (Robert’s women’s group who make chitenje bags), where the Family finally got to try Malawian cuisine (you know how I feel about Malawian “cuisine”…)  SO much fun seeing them get nsima all over their hands and eat like Malawians!!!  Man, I WISH I’d gotten a picture, I am KICKING myself!

Dad, Robert and I went on a few dives at Kande (including a night dive, which I did NOT appreciate, as Rob and Dad got caught in fishing net and Rob’s flashlight was dying, and our guide was an idiot, and I was thus freaking out).  But they got to experience the lake first hand and attest to its awesomeness.  The final night we spent a truly Peace Corps-style night camping on the beach at Robert’s site, eating fresh fish and s’mores over a bonfire with a box of wine.  In hindsight, we should have done Robert’s house first.  He lives in a real-life Peace Corps site, with a mud hut and thatched roof.  So after spending ten days in relatively upscale spots and my house, which is essentially America, the Fam was kind of thrown for a loop.  My bad.  But I’m glad they got to experience how real PCVs live in Africa, and not just my pampered self (and for the record, his house really isn’t THAT bad. He’s got a pretty bomb site, when you look past the termite infestation, mouse poop, spiders, small house made of mud, and unmotivated village…) 

It was a whirlwind trip around Northern Malawi, we didn’t stay anywhere longer than 2 nights.  We were all pretty beat.  Back at the airport, no eye was dry.  Even Robert’s!  So they were all either really sleep deprived, or they really like me.  Go me!  It was a pretty rough goodbye, if I’m being honest, since we all knew it’d be another 10 months before we were together again.  But it was SO wonderful having them here!

So later, after they’d gone and I didn’t stop crying, Robert bought me ice cream, because ice cream fixes everything.

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