Hello! It’s the first cooler day we’ve had here since we arrived 6 weeks ago. 6 WEEKS! I don’t even know where the time has gone. On one hand it feels like we’ve been here for ages, and on the other everything still feels so new. But yes, after living in 33 degrees everyday it’s really nice to have some cloud today! I know what you’re thinking, but no, there’s not been one single thought wishing for rain… not one… nope… nada… but my god it’s so bloody hot. But, I’ve got to say, we’re getting awesome tans!
We’re really starting to get into the swing of things here, it’s just such a brilliant place, but everything just takes time. We’re still getting used to daily power cuts and often water shortages, which is fine when you are prepared. So if we planned to facetime and don’t you don’t hear from us, that’s why! And we’re just getting used to the things you can get here. I’m not going to lie, we’re really missing cheese, normal tea bags and bacon (god, how English) but we’re making up for it with the Malawian Gin! But we’ve started figuring out where’s best to shop and what’s best to get where, for example we started off shopping at one of the huge South African chain supermarkets, just because we didn’t have a clue what else to do. But now we’ve found the best markets just outskirts of the city where you can buy just about anything and the atmosphere is amazing; speakers tied to the back of vans blasting music, none stop chatting, shouting and laughing, and crowds gathered around one tiny TV watching Manchester United… that’s the favourite team here. Every time we get asked where we are from, people always say, ‘you friend with David Beckham?!’ at first we tried to explain, but now it’s easier to just say yes and we’ll tell him hello, rather than to try and explain otherwise! But I’ve never known more friendly people, every single person smiles and waves, and takes care of each other; they’ve definitely got their priories sorted. And there are people EVERYWHERE. And I mean everywhere. I got out of the car one day, looked up and there were three Malawians sitting in the tree behind me grinning away, so funny. Just when you think you are alone in Malawi, you never are!
We’ve really started to explore the place now; a couple of weekends ago we drove to the next city along from us called Zomba, and the views were just amazing. What’s meant to take about a 45 minute drive, took us two hours after stopping at every single market and stall the entire way along! We ended up come back with art work, wooden furniture, wicker mats and a 6ft wooden Giraffe (no idea how I’m ever going to get that home).
The place is like something you see in the movies; people carrying buckets, huge logs and baskets of coal on their heads, all with no shoes on. People pumping water from the wells, children playing with tires on the side of the road and wild baboons running around, it’s just something you have to see to believe that it’s actually real, not just on TV or Children In Need. But still, every single person smiles and waves, they’re just amazing. I feel so torn, on one hand there is so much poverty it’s heart breaking and I want to help everyone, but on the other everything is relative, and I see it as being poor compared to what I know from home. But the people are so happy, and I mean truly happy, because they’re lives are so unspoiled and know no different. But if you just went and gave them a load of money, even though you want to, that’s not really helping anything, it’s just a quick fix that will eventually run out. The best thing we’ve found, after talking to friends here, is to share skills, or buy things from them or pay them to do something for you, then they feel the worth of it rather than just seeing a ‘white person’ and expecting things. Eugh, it’s really hard though, but you’ve just got to keep your head and not let it get too overwhelming, which I know at times it definitely has done for me.
But we’re getting used to speaking Chichewa now too, so ‘how are you?’ is ‘muli bwanji?’, and ‘I’m good and how are you?’ is ‘ndili bwino keuno muli bwanji?’, and thank you very much is ‘Zikomo kwambiri’. So we’re doing ok and it’s really nice to make the effort and speak to the Malawians in their language, they love it when we do!
Work is going great, I had a phone interview with BBC Introducing on Thursday 29th September which went great, it was so nice of them to feature what I’ve been up to and what is it come with my music. You can catch the full interview on Soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/annemariequinn/bbc-introducing-interview-live-from-malawi
And so this weekend just gone was one of Africa’s biggest music festivals; Lake of Stars! When I first found out we were moving to Malawi, I researched everything I could and found the festival, applied and they said yes! And what an amazing weekend it was! We packed up a mattress, a crate of beer and my guitar, and on the Friday straight after Andy finished work we set off on the 9 hour drive right up the lake shore to Chinthechee Inn, the home of Lake of Stars. After dodging the goats, cattle and people on the pitch black roads, we made it and crashed in the back of the van for the night. And when we woke up in the morning I couldn’t believe the festival view. The main stage was right on the beach by the lake. And when I say beach I mean white sand and sunbeds, and when I say lake, I mean it was like something you get in the Caribbean. Now, don’t get me wrong, the Lake District is such a beautiful place, but I’m used to freezing cold Cumbrian water, seven pairs of socks, sludgy lake weed and sideways rain. So this was just heaven, every morning we got up and jumped in the lake, it’s so huge you can’t see the other side, which actually goes over to Mozambique. The music, the food, the beer and view, it was just the best weekend and we met some great people too. And my set went awesomely! I played on Sunday afternoon at 1.15pm on the main stage for 40 minutes. I was nervous leading up to it, i’m not sure why, I haven’t been nervous playing for a long time, but I think because it was something so different in a new place, I had no idea how it was going to go down. But it went great, people dancing and clapping, I had so much fun and I’ve been asked to perform at a load of different venues around Malawi, so it’s really opened up a whole new scene for me here. It was great catching a load of new bands from all over the world too, I really loved a band called Native Young from South Africa, and Lusubilo Band from Malawi; perfect just as the sun was going down!
I’ve been putting together a video of the weekend so keep a look out and I’ll post it up soon!