Questions about Malawi

May 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

It wasn’t until I started packing for this trip that I realized how little I knew about Malawi. Through working on Bamboo Lota I’ve come to learn things like: the state of their economy, the country’s main exports, GDP, deforestation rate, etc. but I knew very little about the kinds of things we take for granted in America. Things like: will I be taking hot or cold showers, do I need an umbrella, can I buy shampoo there? And although the Internet is filled with information about living in Africa, there isn’t very much about Zomba, Malawi, specifically.

Clothing was surprisingly an issue. I’m a pretty conservative dresser in my opinion so I didn’t think anything I had would be considered too risque for Malawi. However, it turns out that jeans and tight fitting pants are quite the anomaly in Malawi and long skirts and dresses are more the norm. I have never in my life casually worn a skirt or dress that goes to my feet so I had to go out and buy a few. I didn’t really think clothing would be an expense for this trip but I spent a fair amount of money making sure I had appropriate outfits.

It’s funny how quickly fashion trends change though (this is inevitably where the men stop reading, haha). I was just talking with a friend about how in high school, low slung jeans and crop tops were so cool in our teens whereas in your twenties and thirties, you try your best to cover all that up (high waisted jeans, jeggings, and long shirts ftw).

Beyond clothing I had trouble packing toiletries. Because of TSA regulations I couldn’t fit enough shampoo and conditioner for the 2+ weeks I am traveling. I ended up just bringing one little bottle of shampoo and hoping that I would be able to buy some in Zomba (there is supposed to be a store in town). And while I thought it was surprising that Zomba did have a convenience store I guess it should be more surprising that you wouldn’t be able to find one in today’s day and age.

To many people, Africa is still a black box shrouded in mystery, including myself. And Malawi is like the needle in the stack of hay in the black box (no joke – no one in my social circle can locate Malawi on a map). I’m excited to finally travel first hand and learn about the culture and see how much it has developed over the years. A lot can change in three years so I’m sure that there will be many new developments from the last Bamboo Lota trip when Stephanie and Kyson conducted the feasibility study.


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