Anniversary in Africa

2 happy years. Our 3rd anniversary so 2 out if 3 isn’t bad.

Royalties to my brother for that one. Always my favorite gag.

Happy 4th of July from Malawi. Tonight we visited La Dolca La Vita restaurant in Lilongwe for the first time and it was surprisingly good with a beautiful garden patio. So we return home to watch Act Of Valor on the sofa. Who says the English aren’t romantic.

Still, we always have this memory: Wedding.

Kigali Genocide Memorial, Rwanda

There is so much more to Rwanda than the genocide but I’ll share those stories and pictures next post. It doesn’t feel appropriate to mix in the same post the fun of our visit with our experiences at the Kigali Memorials.

We arrived in Kigali late afternoon after a long (but scenic) drive from Uganda (and the typically confusing and time consuming African border crossing) and Ben took us straight to the memorial. Unfortunately, it was Rwanda Independence Day so the memorial closed at 5pm so we only had 45 minutes to rush through it. After this 45 minutes we realized we had to come back the next day to take a more respectful time to see every display (the gallery of photos of the victims from the survivors was especially chilling) and enjoy the tranquility of the gardens.


The memorial is so much more than a narrative on the events in April 1994. The country is clearly still healing and the memorial is a focal point of that process – this wasn’t a collection of dusty graves and grainy photos but rather a historic and humanitarian documentary. The memorial staff were my age or younger who, like all Rwandese people above 30 years of age, have expeienced events so harrowing that you marvel at their ability to rebuild a country so quickly. In fact, it was seeing the pain on the faces of the group of young men attending a remembrance service that I found most moving. In 1994, while I was adapting to (the good) life in the USA these young men’s parents and siblings were being hacked to death or their parents were brainwashed into slaughtering their their own neighbors. These were people the world failed to protect. 


I would encourage everyone to read this link to the history of Rwanda Genocide. As you walked through the memorial it was explained that the events between April to June 1994 were in the making since the Germans colonized Rwanda in 1875. Being English I’m very aware that every country has chapters in their history books that they wish forgotten but the Belgiums, and latterly the French, did not bathe themselves in glory with their involvement in Rwanda since Germany ceded control after World War I. Nor the United Nations before, during or even after the civil war with their pathetic attempts at war crime tribunals in Arusha, Tanzania.

But the tone of the memorial was not of apportioning blame but to try to allow understanding of what could possibly drive human beings to such barbaric acts. And to detail the heart wrenching and incredible complex process of national recovery. I was left with the impression that these may have been events in Rwanda but this was really another example of the failure of humanity – a repeat of history we should have learned from. Armenia, the Holocast, Cambodia, the Balkans. Genocides have a shameful repetition.

So the Rwandese have healed themselves. There has been significant foreign aid to help the economy (which has been dramatically successful) but the recovery of Rwanda has been been enabled by addressing the genocide head-on with full transparency. The courage of the Rwandese to do this is inspiring.

Maybe not surprisingly, I sensed an underlaying sadness in the Rwandese (the quietest Independence Day I’ve experienced – possibly because in some ways this day marked the point when the wheels came off the bus) that only time will cure. But this shared pain has been channeled (by the government) to make Rwanda the “Switzerland of Africa”. Pride has been restored by collectively making Rwanda the cleanest and safest country in Africa, with a standard of living equivalent to most European cities. There are no Mzungu (white person) prices, no haggling for taxi or motorbikes fares (more on this next post) and a no-tolerance policy to crime, trash or corruption. It’s Rwanda new identify and it’s very welcoming. With the picturesque green rolling hills, range of (non-active) volcanos and the Gorillas, Rwanda is the hot place to visit and invest. Quite an achievement considering what happened in 1994. The President rules with an iron fist but it works. Dictatorships work but only if the dictator doesn’t have self interest (which appears to be the case with the current incumbent).

We also visited the memorial to the 11 Belgium peacekeepers who were tricked, cornered and then slaughtered by the Rwandan army in the build up to the Genocide. They were protecting the safe passage of the moderate prime minister who was executed with her hushband for opposing the genocidal idealodgy.  Their last refuge has been left untouched, including where grenades exploded among the soldiers.



Finally, Ben took us to what became known as Hotel Rwanda, the location of the movie (with adapted facts) of the same name. This has now been redeveloped into a very fancy hotel. We took pictures including a photo of the swimming pool that was used as a source of water for the 100 days of the war by the occupants.

At this stage it began to feel a little uncomfortable, as if we were genocide tourists. So we ended our sightseeing but we did feel that we completed something important and educational, about Rwanda and the nature (good and bad) of humans. And something that deeply moved us both. 

Waltons In The Mist

To give you an idea how close we were, take a look at these: 


The Gorilla trekking tour was with 8-guests, 3 tour guides, 3 trackers, 2 porters and one policeman).


The trip should have been called ‘Walking with Gorillas’ – we were surrounded by up to 14 of these gentle creatures for an hour+ as they munched on their leaves and their babies played in the trees. It felt like Ben’s relationship with the guides (and fact that they were all Manchester United fans) meant we got extra special treatmeat, cutting individual routes for us to the center of the Gorillas and educating us constantly.  Front seat, National Geographic stuff, an experience unlike any other. Please enjoy this video of the whole Gorilla family.

I shared by WhatsApp this once in a lifetime experience with my Brother and got back “I see you lost a bit of weight and need a shave”. Wise ass. 

The enormous male silverback knew he was boss and we knew that our guides were keeping us just our side of the line. Difficult to describe why he let us come so close and the best I can come up with is he liked the company. Plus I thought he took a liking to Natalia with her floral head-band.

From a Gorilla encounter perspective we hit the jackpot. But this marked the pinnacle of an unforgettable experience in Uganda. The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is 300 sq/km of forest guarded with great pride by the Ugandan people. The name is very appropriate as the foliage is dense and lush, and it reminded me of my fathers wardrobe: old (this forest survived the ice age) and a kaleidoscope of greens and browns colors with a faint musty smell. The walk to the forest was incredible.


Knowing how remote these mountains are (remember it was a 12-hour drive from Entebbe) I was expecting basic accommodation. But the lodge was a collection of private wooden chalets, perched on the ledge of a cliff with floor to ceiling windows on 3 walls overlooking the valley and the Bwindi Forest.  The main lodge hall, lawn with deck chairs and fire pits were at the top with panoramic views. 


When we arrived Big Ben and I had our much talked about beer (under the disapproving gaze of Mrs. W) but failed to make a night of it as we were all tired from the drive. But although it was very tempting to return to the luxury of the lodge after the Gorilla trekking I saw an opportunity for a more authentic beer experience and asked Ben to find us a local bar. There was only us three and the two tour guides, Steven (the tour lead) and Isaac (who had taken such great care of us) in Ben’s van so we didn’t feel like obtrusive tourists.

Ben encouraged me to challenge the girls in the bar to a game of pool and, after a few beers, we were all having a blast. It was so enjoyable to spend some social time with Steven and Isaac who seemed to truly enjoy the detour. And I was good, winning my first two games and prancing around like pool hustler. So the girls called the local champion and it went down to black ball and I was robbed, unluckily potting the cue ball. I love these pictures;


Uganda is amazing. We’re coming back. 

Uganda

We landed at Entebbe early afternoon and after the usual mix-up with the hotel shuttle we were in our next Protea hotel by 4pm. Maybe I’ve been off the hotel circuit too long but what a treat (thanks again IS.com and the many nights and points from the Denver Marriott). A stunning room overlooking Lake Victoria (largest lake in Africa) including one of best breakfast buffets I’ve ever had for a fraction of the points of a hotel in the USA. 


This whole adventure was the inspired by Ronnie, our buddy from the Chinese Food Restaurant and part-time ambassador for the Ugandan Tourist office. A measure of our affection and trust for a Ronnie was we wired a volunteer’s fortune to his friend (Jan Van Droogenbroeck) who runs a Tours business (Goretti’s Tour and Travel) with no questions asked.

We hadn’t heard from Jan in the days leading up to our departure but my concern was more to confirm he had received the wire. Ronnie had suggested Jan would meet us at the Entebbe airport, which was unnecessary as I had researched and booked the hotel shuttle. So when we landed and no shuttle or Jan I started to wonder if there was a problem.

But as soon as we checked into the hotel I was able to call Jan and everything was set and in motion for an early start the next morning. Jan had been sick the previous few days, hence the radio silence, but still invited us to his wife’s restaurant (Goretti’s Beachside Pizza) where we were under strict instructions from Ronnie to order the grilled Tilipia and drink Nile Special lager. I can do that.

Jan sent his son to pick us up and his restaurant was just spectacular; on the beach amoung the palm trees, with waves lapping the shore 10 yards away, and all lit by candles. Poor Jan was obviously under the weather but for the next 3 hours we asked a thousand questions about his journey to Africa (from Belgium over 40 years ago), life in Uganda and the real story about the genocide in Rwanda. 


On the later, Jan gave a very personal account as Jan’s wife, Goretti, is Rwandese and lost most of her family to the atrocities, many in harrowing ways. Amazingly Jan and Goretti where on a brief stint in Belgium but were due to return to Rwanda a month before the war started. But Jan’s employer asked them to stay a little longer by which time events in Rwanda spiraled out of control. As Goretti is Tutsi, both of them would have been killed. There were times during Jan’s recounting of the events that I stopped breathing. Originally for my education, I now feel a sense of duty to visit the war memorials in Rwanda on Saturday and Sunday. 

And the Tilipia and beer were sooooo good and a touching gift from Jan (which I suspect Ronnie may have been behind). But the conversation will be our last memory – you only meet people like Jan very rarely and only when you explore the world. 

Thursday morning we stuffed ourselves at the buffet, and were in the minibus and on our way to Bwindi National park with only our driver/guide, Ben. 

Our first stop was the equator and a marvelous photo opportunity (and some souvenir shopping) – see title picture. Ben explained that toilets on the north side of the line flush clockwise and south flush anti clockwise – they even have twice basins either side to prove it.

I’m typing this after 5-hours of  the 12-hour bus journeÿ and Ben is a joy to be with; son of a police commissioner with 19 siblings, half Rwandese (Tutsi – although it is now law not to describe someone using their ethnic group) and half Ugandan, he speaks SEVEN languages and is an encyclopedia of information ranging from the history of Rwanda genocide, the Ugandan opinion on Idi Amin (and the pros and cons of dictatorships), the progress made on Gorilla conservation and the challenges of taming Zebras (after we spotted some).


Unfortunately Ben is a Chelsea fan but I’m able to overlook that as Ben is a lover of beer and plans to join me on my thorough research of this subject tonight. 

Journey to the Gorillas…

First stop Johannesburg for a lay over before flying to Entebbe, Uganda in the morning. We’re staying at an airside Protea (Marriott – thank you IS.com again) hotel, meaning we’re advised not to go through security. So we’re stuck in the airport, reminding me of the romantic comedy The Terminal with Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones. That I heard about (as I obviously haven’t seen it).

The title picture is Natalia boarding the plane in Lilongwe (and thanks to Fishani for dropping us off). Youve got to laugh at the size of her back pack – a stiff breeze and she’ll topple over and won’t be able to get up.

We packed separately so I’m not sure what’s in that backpack. I do know that I have our snacks, pharmaceuticals and electronics in mine and I caught her trying to pack her wide brimmed multi-colored sun hat until I talked her out if it. 

This time we’ve followed the Gorilla tracking guidance and packed subdued colors and not the bright orange and blues we wore at Kuti Wildlife Reserve.

After average airport food and a dangerous walk back through duty free shops (full of overpriced luxuries that we haven’t had access to in Malawi and we don’t need – not an opinion shared by all members of team Walton) we had a wonderful shower and settled in for the night. Another hotel guest walked in at 5am, having been given our room key – funny rather than alarmingly as he seemed to think having a room key was proof we were in the wrong room. 

Obviously we worked that incident with the hotel management and got a free breakfast.

Then a quick photo opp…


8,45am boarding time. Uganda here we come….

End of Quarter in Malawi

Next week is the run in to quarter end. This marks the end of a test exercise into quarterly sales performance reporting. The usual stuff; targets, qualification conditions and a very modest incentive plan.

Again, I have been reminded that it doesn’t matter if you are selling enterprise software in the US or solar lights in East Africa there is such a thing as a Salesperson gene. This gene means all salespeople respond in a very similar manner, not to just their position vs. target but also  vs. their peers.

My involvement in the quarter end is to take a trip to Uganda and Rwanda.  We have to leave Malawi again to renew our visas but rather than feeling guilty I think I’ll learn a lot by seeing how the SunnyMoney organization works without both of us. I’ve done what I can to this point so will see if the ‘gene’ gets us over the line.

In fact, the last few weeks I’ve turned my attention to Q2. Our Pay-As-You-Go initiative has really caught fire and we been finalizing a new Business Kit brochure targeted to entrepreneurs in Malawi. This represents a great opportunity for those with solar awareness and access to capital so this brochure has to spark the imagination, drive a face-to-face meeting and then signature of an exclusive agreement to supply our PAYG product to a specific territory.

I’ve applied a lesson learned from a mentor early in my career to great success: Head Office has resources – get an unfair share of them. So special thanks to Oli in London for designing an eye-catching brochure and to our friends at Mayamiko (see these post1 and post2) for providing the all important case study.

The last thing we needed was the front cover photo but the only one we had was a customer holding a different product. But the girls in the office loved this challenge and immediately trooped off to the local market, with Mercy (our Customer Service rep) doing the modeling (title picture).

On the social front, we returned to Club Destiny Friday night with the gang (and Eilin, our friend the UCSC researcher) and a new concept introduced by my good self: Happy Hour.

Alan and Mem came too and the stories from their worldly travels were hilarious. Curry after although I was so tired I nearly fell asleep in my korma.

Finally, the RAV4. I’m hoping appending an update at the end of the post avoids my brother’s snarky comments.  Two incidents this week involving steam and overheating. The diagnosis this time was an old and leaky coolant hose. Always a good photo opportunity though.

 

Back to Wiseman

Moonlighting at Club Destiny

This is a new one for me: life is tough as a volunteer so Saturday night Natalia was working the street and I had some part-time work at the new hot club in Lilongwe – Club Destiny. After limbering up at the gym in the morning and thanks to my Afripop dance preparations I felt ready…

…to be the assistant barman at the downstairs bar at Violet’s latest entreprenial venture which opened Saturday night.

I must have missed the planning party as this one was sprung on me when I got home from Sales trip Friday night but Violet’s a close friend and, well, it seemed like a fun idea. Plus Violet’s husband and my buddy Adrian’s “shore leave” was ending Monday so this was a good way to see him off.


And every good party needs a Brave. Plus Mrs W., Carys, Isabella and Violet’s friend Lovely (all in title picture) and, later arriving reinforcements, Fishani and Florence.  All were recruited (and Violet’s daughter, Victoria, her two sons and my boss for the night, her brother Alfonso) as staff with Natalia and Lovely as waitresses, Brave and me as barmen and Isabella picking up the short straw on BBQ/food detail.

Our pre-party photo shoot got a little silly;

And a cute picture too:


Now, Brave and I as barmen has a bit of the fox-watching-the-henhouse about it but we were well behaved and paid for all our own drinks (which is not the same as ‘not drinking’).  Violet had booked a well known artist, Lulu & Band, who were excellent and played all night.


Location is always key and Club Destiny is easy to get to and has good parking – and has the best barmen in town. Violet and Adrian have built a cozy downstairs bar with a killer DJ Saturday night (me) with an amazing roof top, where the band was set-up, available once a month.

Armed police manned the stairwell just to be on the safe side.

We overcame a few first night teething issues like no ice or monetary change for the spontaneously created (and complex – I needed a calculator) price list. The traffic was initially a little light so Brave and Natalia hit the surrounding streets to promote to anyone who would listen. Interesting results from their efforts as they seemed to only find the local working girls who wanted to know if the drinks would be free, a vehicle would take them and that customers would be available. Not Violet’s target audience but some interesting ideas for next time.

But when we had a power cut the only noise in a 3-mile radius was Club Destiny (thanks to the building generator and great speakers) and we began to fill up.

1am rolled around and I could see the crossroads. Straight, to a long night working and after party-party. Right, the wheels coming off with Brave. Left, home with my Colombian which really shouldn’t be the safe option.

Home. I’m getting old. But what a fun night.

Tour De Malawi

This week was a field visit to our Eastern and Southern Sales teams and some key partners (and to do some industry networking) with Brave, our National Sales Director. Every company I’ve worked in there’s been constant back and forth between the ‘Field’ and ‘Office’. The Office thinks a Sales role means a funded social life with no appreciation of process and the Field view the Finance and Operations team as bureaucrats who wouldn’t last 5 minutes in-territory.

In Management positions it’s easy to let the demands of Head Office chain you to a desk so I was determined to get on the road and make sure everyone was aligned with our business objectives, to understand the challenges faced by Sales and see if Brave and I could generate some business.

The plan was to leave in our Hyundai van (no cars working) Monday morning at 9am for a 2.5 hour drive to Balaka and a noon meeting with some agents and our returning (from maternity leave) Eastern Region Sales Manager, Ivy,  then head off to Blantyre to Martin and Joseph, and back solo Wednesday by bus.

The Hyundai wouldn’t start and once that was fixed we left at 1pm with the van suitably decked out for a long drive;

Brave and Hyundai

By the time we got to Balaka at 3.30pm, Ivy and our Agents were patiently waiting for us. And Ivy’s 6-week old son, Watipa. Everyone has missed Ivy and it’s great to have her back and, as you can see, she looked wonderful (the green wrap Ivy is a wearing is a chitenje used traditionally as sling on her back for her baby);

Our next Sales rep, Martin, had changed his plans to meet us in Balaka but he was delayed so we consoled ourselves with a few bottles of hop-juice.  Our lodge was right next to a (very loud until 3am) bar so I was desperately in need of coffee in the morning especially after an ice cold shower. Looks like the lodge had a sense of humor as they only served weak tea on this coaster;

No coffee

Cruel.

A quick meeting with Martin over breakfast and then to off to Blantyre. At this stage I realized my departure on Wednesday morning wasn’t going to happen so I elected to ride shotgun with Brave the whole trip (including a presentation to the Salima School District on Friday). With clothes for 3 days this was going to get a little tight.  So I started to fill my Wednesday schedules (Brave was going to very Southern tip, Nsanje, to see more agents) with Blantyre meetings; Practical Action (regarding their MEGA and SE4RC projects), BIF and our Retail and Financing partner FINCOOP. Plus a special meeting at First Merchant Bank thanks to some networking from, Paul Howard, my good friend in Manchester.

But first, more agents, this time with Joseph once we picked him up. On the way, while I was behind the wheel, we got ticket for a faulty brake light at one of the many police checks. And then we stumbled into a large protest at Lunzu just outside Blantyre; the teachers are currently on strike so the school children were rioting and had formed a blockade on our route in. Luckily, Joseph was on it and met us on our side of the trouble but we had to conduct our meeting on the footsteps on the local post office.

The second picture is Joseph, Jonas (agent), Brave and Bright (agent) who has our new t-shirt on the wrong way. Kind of works, right?

After another agent visit and finding that our petrol tank cap had been stolen we arrived at Doogles lodge and we had a great discussion with Joseph about his territory. A long day so we only had enough energy to go for a quiet dinner at the Palace Bar at MASM house but our spirits were lifted by the decor;

A Find in the Palace Bar @ MASM House in Blantyre

Next morning we visited the FINCOOP office/bank and proudly saw our lights on display…

Brave in the FINCOOP office

… and Brave left for Nsanje (and to buy a petrol cap) and I bounced around Blantyre for my meetings included the hook-up with Hitesh Anadkat the chairman of First Merchant Bank. What a gentleman he was, graciously sparing some time to give me advice on how to grow the SunnyMoney business in Malawi. Hitest is one of the most influential and successful businessmen in Malawi and also the Vice-Chairman at TNM a large network provider so this was a real bonus.

Solo Wednesday night so an early night and then I had another meeting Thursday morning before Brave returned and we met United Purpose, our partner on the DISCOVER project. Timely, as they have a second phase of the project and we got the ball rolling there and then.

With the speedometer now not working we decided to take the Zomba route (with less police stops) for the 5-hours to Salima. Zomba is higher in the mountains and has some spectacular scenery. Therefore, we stopped for some dinner and headed back to Balaka to meet Martin again (I forgot to give him his repaired units). We arrived Salima late and went out for a few beers to prepare for our meeting with the District Education Manager (DEM) and this team of Primary Education Advisers (12 of them who each manager a school zone in the district).

We were on our game in the morning, finalizing a handout and our presentation. Brave subtly told me my shirt couldn’t be worn another day so I had to wear one of our t-shirts. But we looked the part in our SunnyMoney logos and everything was ready and the presentation went flawlessly. Brave was magnificent; controlling the flow, mixing up group breakouts, product demonstrations, humor and driving the meeting to clear actions and next steps. I was just eye candy.

Brave artfully dovetailed the Malawi’s Government Initiative on Climate Change with SunyMoney’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Education that allows us to work with all levels of the education system, presenting SunnyMoney as the practical example of a positive impact on Climate Change. We have a great case study in the making here.

Back home at 5.30pm. Not too bad. I’ve been given a lot to thinking about from our Sales team – they are our front line and we’re very lucky to have such dedication from them. We had great agent and partner meetings, and opportunities were unearthed and closed (by Ivy and Joseph).

And a reminder that you don’t know your business unless you travel with Sales.

 

 

 

 

The Incredible Kumbali Country Lodge

I’ve realized our adventures have all come about or were made so memorable because of the characters we’ve met along the way.  Over the years we’ve had such fun trips in Alaska (and Florida) with Captain Fantastic and Jenni, the Lake Trips in Malawi with the SunnyMoney crew, visiting Isa in Cape Town, partying with Natalia’s friends in Medellin Colombia.

Even when we’ve gone away solo we’ve also met the best people: lunch with a complete stranger in Kyoto Japan, Steve and Debbie in Dar Es Salaam, Sam and the death race to Nkhata bay, our Kiwi buddies on our near disastrous trip up Kilimanjaro (Yang and Ritchie – we’ll never forget seeing them appear on the way down to save us) and so on. Others (like Mr. Rutherford) have become joint friends though we’ve never met them together. Of course, moving to Malawi has been an ongoing experience of meeting new people and we’ve continued to be very lucky finding quality, classy and fun friends such as Violet and Adrian, Paola, and Alan and Mem. And of course, Carys, Fishani, Isabel and the irrepressible Brave, my partner in United-crime.

I thought it was my sunny disposition and charming character that behind all these friendship. You may be surprised to learn that it is not. I have worked out this weekend it is all Natalia. She is so striking, carefree and a whirlwind of accidental humor – like a little Latina cartoon character. I just ride in on the wave she creates.

This Saturday night was a great example. A causal message from Alan in the afternoon – “volleyball @2.30pm at Kumbali Lodge”. Kumbali is a high end lodge and conference center situated on 650-hectare forest reserve and dairy farm in Lilongwe.  The owners, Guy and Maureen Pickering, immigrated to Malawi from South Africa in 1991 and built this amazing lodge with a clarity of vision that resulted a one of a kind location that stands alone as the truly luxurious African styled accommodation and retreat in Lilongwe.  Always involved in the local community, they have added two sand volley ball courts for Saturday afternoon matches. Guy and Maureen are also good friends of Alan and Mem, going back 25 years when the all lived in Mzuzu (North Malawi).

We’re been to Kumbali estate before, for breakfast (with the fabulous African band) at the Farmer’s Market. I read my post from 9-months ago and we learned about the volleyball then but it took us meeting Alan to get us there for the first time in May.

So this Saturday we arrived for volleyball and met Guy as he limbered up for the game. The less said about my volleyball skills the better but, as the sun set and after Naty’s photo shoot with Guy’s estate runabout car (see above), Guy invited Natalia and I to join his wife Maureen, and Alan and Mem, for dinner at their house. In just our dusty volleyball clothes we were a little embarrassed to show-up empty handed but we all headed to the lodge and their house behind it. Spectacular;

That’s me and Alan outside, and Naty, Maureen and Mem enjoying a few Glenmorangies. Great (and hilarious – Guy’s driving experiences were especially memorable) conversation and a delicious meal – we felt very privileged to be invited.

It was fascinating to hear the history of the lodge and the unique environment Guy and Maureen provide vs. the corporate hotels in Lilongwe City Center. So unique that Madonna has stayed at Kumbali 11 times during her humanitarian (and, as we learned, misreported and misunderstood) visits to Malawi.

We asked about how her frequent guest status had impacted their business and, surprisingly, this has set the expectation that the price is out of range of most visitors to Malawi. NGO CEOs are booked into the ‘safe’ hotels (meaning chains) by their secretaries so Kumbali remains a secret gem for those in the know. At about $150/night it’s a must for anyone visiting Malawi who wants a luxurious Malawi experience and personal attention and care from those who know how to welcome new friends to their home.

 

 

 

 

 

Cleaning Crew

Obviously not my idea.  Ever since we separated company with our maid, Efness, housekeeping has been a bone of contention at The Waltons. Natalia gets into a cleaning frenzy, brushing and mopping like the Queen is visiting. Meanwhile, I just hate it and try to claim that bill paying and car maintenance is my side of the equation. Any men reading this will appreciate the futility of that argument.

But you need to stay on top of it in Malawi as it is very dusty and the windows don’t fit the frames so we have an abundance of visitors as well as dirt. This weekend we thought we could kill two birds with one stone; spring clean the house top to bottom and provide a little bit of extra income for Lucy. For the record, none of this was my idea (as in my experience paying co-workers for personal jobs never ends well).

But, even after a false start (Lucy wasn’t at the prearranged meeting point until an hour after arranged), I am able to sit here typing this post without being given jobs to do, while Lucy is happily hard at work and Natalia is cooking. Genius.

In other updates our Uganda trip has been booked, with an ambitious schedule that has us tracking the Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi National Park and coming back through Kigali in Rwanda. Visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial has been something important to me since I arrived in Africa as I’ve realized the peace loving nature of the people in Malawi has not been case in every part of Africa.

As mentioned, the inspiration from this trip was our friend Ron who we bumped into again during our Friday date-night at the Chinese restaurant. Thanks Ron!

Ron at the Chinese