Tuesday, November 14, 2006

First rain of the season, and first blog as well

Shortly after waking up this morning, I heard a rumbling sound, as if the neighbors next door were gunning their truck engine again. But as it grew, and didn't stop, I realized that the very first rain of the season had finally arrived.

The radio said that this rain was actually a rain that should have come last October, but was late. They said that the October rains are normally lighter, and help the farmers to prepare the soils for the real rainy season, which begins in November or December. How they can tell that this particular rain is different from the "normal" rains, I have no idea. It all looks like water falling from the sky to me.

It is my 4th month in Malawi, and my 4th job in Africa. But this is my first blog. I figured it was finally time to start one, as even the head of UNHCR in Sudan has a blog. When a man twice my age, who could get in a lot more trouble for airing the details of his work, gets a MySpace account, then I know I'm behind the times.

Plus, I finally have a decent internet connection. Well, it's slow, and unpredictable, but at least it's not dial-up.

So now I am in my office. In a few moments I will be interviewing a potential new employee at the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization in foreign aid lingo) that I work at. But for now I am just enjoying the coolness of the air now that the rain has washed out the months of accumulated heat and dust. The red soil here soaks up the water like a sponge, and leaves the air filled with a metallic smell of iron.

I find it interesting that so many women in this country are anaemic due to a lack of iron in their diet, when the soil is so rich that it is red from the iron ore. There is a phenomenon known as geophagia, which commonly occurs during pregnancy, where women feel a compelling need to eat dirt. There is a theory that this occurs because the body knows it needs iron for the baby, so it drives women to pull big chunks of soil out of the ground and eat them, mostly in private, as this isn't really dinner-party sort of behavior, even in an African village. The irony is that the women then pick up intestinal worms from the soil they have eaten, and the worms then make them even more anaemic.

So there you have a clue as to my own work and interests here in the "Warm Heart of Africa".


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on becoming a blogger. It's already my favourite.

mary:) said...

It will be a pleasure learning about your "Misadventures in Malawi."

Miriam said...

Yeah! I get to read about your misadventures! When you're ready, I'll let more people know about it.

Joy said...

You write so well, it really makes it easy to imagine being there! Keep it up, I'm looking forward to reading about your adventures.

Alanna said...

I just keep learning about computers all of the time to keep up with you guys. Wow. I love your writing, Gwyn, and the pictures of Malawi made me even more interested in coming, that is until I read about the termites, and saw all the bed netting. Dare I ask, "For what?" Your beloved Aunt Alanna

Britt said...

What a great blog! I think there might be a book in your future m'dear. Your writing is wonderful and creates quite a picture in my mind. BTW... I heard that NPR broadcast also, but when I was young my uncle told me about the exploding trees.

Amanda said...


I love your Blog and will be adding it to my favorites. Reading it brought tears to my eyes because I am so humbled by the work you are doing. I will keep you and your husband in my prayers until you’re home again. I agree with Britt there's definitely a book in your future. We so often read about the experiences of celebrities but I’m and proud to say that I know a “real” person that is doing wonderful work.(Langston’s Mom)

Dad said...

This is good stuff. I've told Chris and Colin, and Sachiko about it in my Christmas letters to them.

Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!

Christian, iwspo.net