Saturday, February 21, 2009


On Sunday Jes and I attended the sports tournament between Gracious Secondary School (our school), and Mangochi Private School. Jes is our school’s sports patron. Although the title sounds like she should be a saint or muse of some sort, it means that she is the girls coach. I find this particularly funny because I don’t think Jes has played organized sports, ever. We arrived at 2:00pm, the scheduled start time of the games. An hour later the coach of the competing team showed up and asks where our players were. Jes could have just as fairly asked where his players were, since after what should have been an hour of playtime, no one from either team had arrived. Turns out the students had had a hard time finding transportation to the venue, a dirt field that is just far enough away from both schools to preclude the possibility of walking. The school had tried to arrange transportation, but had tried to charge students for the privilege, with little success. At about 3:30pm students started to trickle in. At 3:45pm enough students had arrived to start a healthy game, in my opinion. At 4:00pm I ask why Jes and the other sports patrons weren’t whipping up some frenzied competition. I was told that the girl selected to bring the girls’ uniforms was also selected not to play, so had decided that bringing the skirts was no longer in her best interests. As the girl struck off to get the uniforms, the remaining girls started playing in their shirts and underwear, knee length skirts that, as far as I could tell, look just about the same as their uniforms. At our school the boys play soccer and the girls play netball. Netball is like basketball except it is played outside, on a dirt court, and there is no running with or dribbling the ball allowed. Imagine a cross between Ultimate Frisbee and basketball. The result is thoroughly entertaining, and I soon found myself standing enthusiastically on the sidelines. The heat was blistering, and while I was drowning in my own sweat, the players seemed barely to be breaking one. A good effort was brought by both sides, but I am happy to report that the Gracious Girls (as I like to call them) trounced the ladies from Mangochi Private. The boys’ game was also entertaining, but anyone familiar with soccer (or football as everyone here calls it) would have a pretty good idea of what transpired. I am not sure who won the boys soccer game because Jes and left early due to mild heat exhaustion. When I enquired the next day at school as to who had been the victor, nobody seemed quite sure. It seems that in the absence of a scoreboard, the actual results of the game had been lost in the excitement. However, I am unsure if I had asked the boys from Mangochi Private whether they would have been stricken by the same, enthusiasm enduced, amnesia.

Ruth and Tom came over the other day for pizza and introduced Jes and I to neighbors we didn’t know existed. A two minutes walk past corn fields and chicken coops leads you to the house of Ayub and Hote, two afghan refugees that settled here just two years ago. As we approached the house we announced our presence with the traditional saying “Odi odi.” At the door we were met by the type of people who are so hospitable is makes you almost feel guilty…almost. In seconds we were seated in their living room and brought beers and Afghan snacks. I had just eaten dinner, but was happy to avail myself with food that was not beans and rice. Ayub is involved with the NGO, Solice International, which has done work in Malawi, and specifically, with MCV. Ayub and Hote were concerned about raising their five daughters around the Taliban, and, after the violence of the US occupation, decided it was time to leave. This weekend we all got together at Ruth and Tom’s house. Ayub’s Afghan friend, Dr. Ayub, also came because he was in the area doing cholera clinics with MSF (Doctors without Boarders). The irony of Jesse introducing Jes to Ayub, and Ayub introducing Aub to Jes, was lost on no one. Dr. Ayub has been with MSF for 15 years and was fascinating to talk to, having worked in over 10 countries all over Africa. His wife and children also came and many a joke was made about it being the largest peaceful Afghan-American gathering for thousands of miles.

Speaking of neighbors, Jes and I took one in as a roommate last week. Her name is Pus, and she is a black cat we stole from the storage building across the street with the hopes that she might enjoy the company of rats. Since I arrived in Malawi I have been waging a silent war against the colony of rats that lives in our roof. Well, my efforts have been silent, theirs have not. I am regularly kept up at night listening to the army of rats knock dishes off the counter, engages in noisy territorial disputes, and, perhaps worst of all, gnaw an ever growing hole into our food cupboard. After an extensive survey of the rat poop left on all cooking and eating surfaces, I can accurately conclude that the population must stand near 700 healthy individuals. The rats show no trepidation; the other night I was awoken to the sounds of one pulling my cash/passport fanny pack back to his nest (seriously, he got it all the way up the bookshelf and was beginning up the wall with it before he was discovered). Last week I bought a trap, but after a rather unpleasant episode, decided an alternative was needed. Enter Pus; the moment we kidnapped her she perked up her ears and ran around the house sniffing everything. She obviously had never seen a house supporting this much prey. Moments after the lights went out I heard the familiar scurry of rat feet, followed by a squeak and the sounds of Pus exercising her hunting prowess. Ah, bless the circle of life; I am blasting the Lion King theme song as I write this.


  1. Jesse, I just figured out how to post a comment! Wow, what stories! Between you and Jess, I feel like I am there with you! You each have a distinct style and reading both makes a fuller experience for the reader. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

  2. Hi Jesse,
    Jes as a sports patron is an amusing thought. I'd love to see pictures of her in action sometime if you get a chance. I'm enjoying the blog and glad you're able to keep it up. Wendy