Change of Plans

My original ticket had me leaving Malawi on December, 22 and flying to Holland where I’ll spend Christmas with Joachim and his family. Then, some colleagues and I got funding to do a small project in Kenya and Tanzania next spring, and we decided that I should try to go visit our planned research site while I’m already on the continent. So, I bought a ticket from Malawi to Kenya, and back, for Nov. 29 to Dec. 12, which would mean I’d be coming back to Malawi for 10 days after Kenya, which was fine by me.

But then I was almost denied entry back into Malawi when Joachim and I visited Zambia, and was told that I would not be allowed back into the country once I left again, until I have gone back to the US. So, I decided to change my plans so that I wouldn’t come back to Malawi after my trip to Kenya.

This wasn’t particularly cheap, but in the end it means that I will get to Europe a week early (my Kenya dates didn’t change much). It also means that when I leave Malawi next Tuesday, I won’t be coming back in the near future.

I am both sad and relieved. Things lately have really gotten bad. There are shortages of everything now (beef and stationary are the latest additions to the list), in addition to all the things that were already in short supply. Civil servants aren’t being paid anymore, and Air Malawi, the national carrier, had to cancel all flights for the forseeable future because both of its planes are still under repair in South Africa and they can no longer pay for the plane they were renting from an American company. People are here are saying more and more often that things are going “the way of Zimbabwe”. So it feels like a good time to go. It makes it easier to leave, knowing that I will be back at some point.

In the next 10 days I have a lot to do. I am teaching a 5-day intensive Stata (statistical software) course to the management team and data entry superivisors here at IKI. I am also cleaning my data as it is entered over the next week. Finally, I am sorting all the paper we’ve collected for some IKI guys to scan so that I can take an electronic copy and burn the paper copies. And then there is packing. And saying goodbye.

I’ll see some of you when I get back in early January, and others of you when I visit Alabama in February. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

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