Today was our first full day in Malawi. After a good nights sleep, we all awoke nice and early and ready to start exploring. As we waited for our bus driver, we went for a stroll into the village. This is where our sensory overload started. From smiling faces, to frying chicken, to stinky 3-day old fish covered in flies, we soaked it all in and started to make friends with the locals. Once our driver picked us up, he took us to the Blantyre Wood Market where we had a chance to practice our bartering and buy some real authentic African souvenirs. That was a real fun experience! Some of us definitely overpaid for items, and others walked away with some great deals!
In the afternoon, we headed to the Stephanos Centre which is right outside of Blantyre, as they have a very successful irrigation project happening there that we wanted to learn from. Along the way, we stopped for lunch and Jens and Marc were able to bribe the locals to let them go for a motorbike ride. That was quite entertaining for all! At the Stephanos Centre, we got a very nice tour of the agricultural project by our friend Jos, and were able to learn a little bit about what does or doesn’t work for irrigation projects in Malawi. Just as we were wrapping up our tour, we got hit by a torrential downpour - or at least that’s we called it. The Malawians called it a “shower”. As the rain continued to fall, we were warned that we better leave while our bus could still make it through the muddy roads. It was crazy to see how this rainfall could make the road turn into a river!
We ended our day with a very nice bbq and evening hosted by the welcoming Gerrit and Gretchen Oomen. Some of the team played a competitive soccer game with their kids, while others connected with some of the other Timotheos workers who were present. Since jet lag was starting to set in, we headed home on time to let everyone get another good nights sleep.
All in all, it was a very successful and eye-opening first day in Malawi for all.