Jennifer Lyon, Jennifer Ferencz, Mindy Frimidig, Ben Schnurr, Chris Bannigen
Victoria Falls Made Easy (relatively speaking, that is)
In our 5th week here, the 5 of us decided to try out African public transportation en route to Vic Falls through Zambia. To hopefully save future groups unneeded stress, here is how we made it there. To make it worthwhile, you really need a week (5 days of which will be spend travelling) but it is totally worth it.
Words to the wise:
This is an experience none of us will forget.
“It’s Kill Time”
On March 18, Mac Calder and Rob Lagrou climbed to the top of Africa to watch the sunrise. We sweated and we froze; we ran at times and sometimes we crawled; we puked and shat together and we laughed and laughed, met fellow adventurers, basked in the sun, tried to learn Swahili. It was an epic quest, superlative in nature, a journey to the top of the continent we fell in love with.
“Poa kcheese kama ndizi” (Cool like bananas)
The Rob and Mac Kili Scholarship — For all other future Kiliminjaro summitters staying at Terrie’s place, we pledge to provide a small stipend to buy your guide and porters a found of drinks at the bottom. Also, your summit photo will be placed with the others in the Kili room. (As of 2016, one person has used the funds.)
Also dedicated from Mac to the backyard kids: The Muli Bwanji Song.
The Azungu Witch of Malawi
— As told to Rob Lagrou by an elderly patient at Zomba Psychiatric Hospital
“There is a very good reason why the Malawians are afraid to climb Mt. Mulanje and why every year an expat or two die or are lost forever on its peaks.
Back when the first white settlers arrived, there was a horrible drought in Malawi. The locals felts that the arrival of these new people had angered the gods. They decided to kidnap a white woman and sacrifice her on the mountain to appease the gods. The white settlers got wind of this, and were afraid their own wife or daughter may go missing.
In their small group there was a female outcast that not only was thought to be mad, but also had delved a bit too deeply into the local witchcraft for their liking. They betrayed the woman, giving her to local tribesmen for sacrifice. They brought her on the mountain and set her on fire. Burned at the stake.
She did not burn. She just stood there in her flowing white robe, cackling at them like an animal. Scared, they tied a rope to her neck and hung her from a nearby tree. Once again, she simply hung there, cackling evilly. Terrified at this point, they quickly dug a shallow hole and buried her alive on the mountain.
So it is said to this day she wanders Mount Mulanje leading people to their death. If, while climbing Mulanje, at night, when you’re sleeping, you hear a high-pitched cackle or catch a glimpse of her flowing white robe in the moonlight, go back to sleep and pray for morning to come.”
Lisa Marie Coram
Zikomo (my very first Chichewa word) kwambiri!
This Malawian experience has been incredible. I’m sure it will take many moons for me to completely internalize all that I’ve seen and experienced here. It has all been a learning experience — taking a minibus to Lake Malawi (ouch!). I never knew so many people could fit in a van; I found the Mulanje and Phalombe mission hospital trips very interesting as are The Cactus and Doogle’s …
Simoni’s peanut butter cookies are the absolute best!
I saw hippos in the wild for the first time in my life at Mvuu Camp — praying the whole way that one of the big beasts wouldn’t capsize the safari boat. The boat never flipped and we were saved from the minibus by the grace of a nun who drove us home in her car instead.
I saw conditions at QECH I never thought I’d see and I drained more abscesses that I’d ever thought I’d drain … for an aspiring psychiatrist the surgery ward was quite shocking but the best elective I could have done.
Upon arrival to Malawi, I thought it would be quite easy to deliver the money my mother’s school raised to a charity or school. I realized quickly it was going to be a more complicated task than I anticipated. Malawi being such a poor country, money can easily fall into the wrong hands. However, I found two great sources — the Stella Maris Secondary School for Girls. There are some blind girls who need Braille books. And the Samaritan Trust, a Malawian-run organization that supports street children.
I really enjoyed this entire trip in Malawi. The only last tidbits I have for future students:
I did my elective at QECH in internal medicine. The first few days were intimidating … and I was convinced I would never learn my way around the hospital. But I did, and you will too!
What will I take back with me?