I’ve been pretty busy lately.
I had planned to go back to Kasungu at the end of the 5th week, but then I looked at a calendar and saw that that would put me in Nkhamenya for my birthday. Um, no.
So, I pushed it up a week, which meant I had to get all the supplies I needed to bring ready on the double-STAT. This essentially boiled down to hand feeding 2000 envelopes by hand into my printer over 3 days (approximately 8 hours). The envelopes are necessary in order to coordinate the trust game in the field as quickly as possible – we use a set of codes, colors, and shapes to make sorting who is paired with whom much easier on the fly.
I only ended up staying in the field last week for 4 days. While my project is hitting all kinds of bizarre road blocks (which I cannot even begin to go into now), they guys know what they are doing and I mostly get in the way.
Over the course of those 4 days, I spent over 22 hours in a car – 15 of those alone. Plus it’s the hot season here and my AC doesn’t work. So that wasn’t very fun. And since I’m always driving (on the left side of the road here, so I sit on the right of the car) my right arm is several shades darker than my left since it gets so much sun.
And I know you are tired of hearing about petrol. And I can assure that I am tired of writing about petrol. But the country has been almost dry for over a week now, and petrol is constantly on my mind. Therefore, petrol will be constantly on this blog.
I had stockpiled a bit of fuel in a jerrycan, but it turned out that since there was a petrol shortage one of the guys staying with the gardener on our property decided to help himself to some to fuel his motorcycle. My temperature is rising now just writing about it – at this point in time in Malawi, stealing someone’s petrol is about the worst thing you can do. I’m still trying to figure out how to deal with the theft, but in the short term it meant that I didn’t have enough to get to Kasungu and back.
Once in Kasungu, I spent one day driving 3 hours each way to the nearest border town in Zambia (Lundazi). Well, of course, Malawians had drained the pumps the day before, so we drove all that way (and burned all that fuel) for nothing. The guys ended up finding some petrol in a station a few days after I left, but I wasn’t so lucky. I had to buy on the black market on the way back to Zomba at – hope you are sitting down – around $16/gallon. Ouch.
Then, the lack of petrol almost stranded us in Zomba for my birthday, but thanks to waiting on queue for over 9 hours and my only slightly corrupt husband, we were able to get away for a few days. But that story is for another post.