Day 12: Building a New Bathroom

Ends up I love bricklaying a lot. We went over to Chamwavi secondary school to help build the girls bathroom that was financed by our local Rotary Clubs with help from The Mooncatcher Project. They already had a good start on it, so we jumped right in and asked for instructions. Ezekiel, my tutor showed me with pointing and a bit of English how to trowel the sandy cement onto the previous row and lay a brick just right, making sure that it sat evenly on the row beneath. We followed the string that gave us a true line and sometimes used a level to be sure the wall was straight and even. I especially liked filling the spaces between each brick being sure to get enough cement “paste” into each crack. With my back the way it has been on this trip I decided to stop before I got too sore. That’s never easy for me as I like to stick with that sort of things for hours and really see progress.

The old girls’ bathroom.

The old girls’ bathroom.

Ezekiel with Helen and Charlotte - building the new bathroom.

Ezekiel with Helen and Charlotte - building the new bathroom.

Later, Helen, Charlotte, Olipa and I decided to play hooky for the rest of the day. We had originally planned to spend three days this week in the sewing room working with the electric machines that I brought but there isn’t any electricity so that plan has been put on hold. Instead we went to the Kasungu National park to see if we could find Elephants.

The drive to the park is long, bumpy and very beautiful. I marvel at the sky this country has. The clouds are glorious against an electric blue color. There is just so much horizon. At home buildings and trees seem to get in the way but here I feel surrounded by sky and the African light accentuates it. The early evening moon was extraordinary.  It was so big and bright.

The road was an adventure!

The road was an adventure!

The rising moon.

The rising moon.

We didn’t find elephants except for those we imagined in the cloud formations that were pretty good imitations. We did see Rhinos, Antelopes and a lovely little red dragon fly. Taking the tour to find the animals had us car bushwhacking through barely recognizable dirt roads with so much overgrowth that one could barely see out the front window. My passenger seat window was broken so bits and pieces of sticks and reed kept flying through the opening and getting stuck in my clothing. I spent a fair amount of time pulling prickly stuff out of my t-shirt once the ride was over but am glad for the adventure nonetheless.

 And now this is the last day here in Mtuntama. I’ll miss the friends I’ve made here especially Andy and Alice. Alice taught me to make nsima tonight. I loved working in the kitchen with her. Every movement she makes is purposeful and elegant. I loved watching her. She made soy meatballs, chicken, rice and a really yummy eggplant dish for our parting meal. Nsima is a type of doughy cornmeal porridge eaten by hand.  I learned to scoop up the other parts of the meal with it just like a Malawian.

 I’m all packed and ready for the 7:00am departure tomorrow. Off to bed to read and get a good night’s sleep.