As a kid I often dreamed of going on safari, seeing the ‘big five’, and experiencing a land so drastically different from my own. For a very long time, Africa has been high atop my long (and growing) list of places I’d like to visit; however, it always seemed like a longshot that I’d ever make it. That’s why, when a friend, Tom Pickering, told me he would be serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi for two years I jumped at the chance to visit. So Constance and I are here now, to see some of the landscapes, people, and wildlife of southern Africa. Since internet access is so spotty, the blog posts will be added several at a time, but I will try to limit individual posts to the events of a single day, to make it easier to follow. I hope that you will enjoy following us on our first African adventure! --- Quand j’étais petit, je rêvais de faire un safari, de voir les grands mammifères terrestres et de découvrir un monde drastiquement différent du mien. L’Afrique a longtemps occupée une des premières positions de ma longue (et toujours grandissante) liste de région du monde que je voudrais visiter, sans vraiment croire que j’aurais véritablement l’occasion d’y aller un jour. C’est pourquoi quand un de mes amis, Tom Pickering, m’a appris qu’il partait pour deux ans au Malawi pour faire du bénévolat pour le Peace Corps, j’ai sauté sur l’occasion. C’est ici, au Malawi, que Constance et moi nous trouvons présentement afin de découvrir les paysages, les gens et la faune du sud de l’Afrique. Étantdonné que j’ai accèsà internet de manière très sporadique, plusieurs entrées de blogs seront ajoutées en même temps. Je vais tout de même faire un effort pour raconter les anecdotes dans un ordre chronologique pour faciliter la lecture. J’espère que vous aimerez suivre les péripéties de notre première aventure africaine!

Lake Malawi, day 3; Trouble in Malawi

Saturday, 23 July 2011

So, on Monday I reported that some demonstrations were planned for the coming Wednesday (now past). Well, here in Nkhata Bay, Wednesday came and went, and although we found it a bit odd that all the shops were mysteriously closed that day and the next, there was little cause for alarm. Then, on Thursday evening, we finally saw a newspaper, which informed us that shops in large cities had been looted and burned. There were also reports of violence directed towards government officials, and of machete-armed government supporters patrolling streets threatening violence. In Mzuzu, police, using live ammunition to break up protests, had even killed eight protesters in as many as three separate incidents. The situation seemed worse than we had realized, and it’s still unclear what the long-term effects of the violence and civil unrest will be. There is now a curfew enforced throughout the country, and the political rhetoric appears to be sharpening. For our sake and of course for the sake of Malawi, I hope that things don’t go from bad to worse.

On the bright side of things, today I began my first day of a four-day PADI scuba certification course in Nktata Bay. This morning began a series of boring, 1980s-production-value videos, teaching basic skills and safety information. In the afternoon, we practiced some of those skills in the water, as well as putting on and maintaining the essential gear. The pace was a bit slow, but simply breathing underwater is something that takes some getting used to. Tomorrow we’re slated to go a bit deeper, I’m very excited. I feel already that scuba is opening up another world of exploration that I’ve previously scarcely considered. I’ve already caught myself contemplating future diving prospects; I hope this does not turn into yet another hobby in my growing list that I cannot afford…

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