Saturday, December 22, 2007

Vacation starts today

I will be on vacation for the next three weeks, so I don't know how much I will be able to write. Dad arrives tonight at 7, and then we are off for a few weeks of travel. First up is Christmas in Zambia. we are going back to the Kapani Lodge, which so spoiled us last year. Then we will spend a couple nights in Cape Maclear on Lake Malawi, and Zomba. On January 2, we are flying to Cape Town, where we will be spending three nights in the city, then a few days out in the Winelands. I'm very much looking forward to the restaurants in Cape Town. Seeing penguins would be pretty cool, too.

Jorge had an interesting week. As I've mentioned here before, the Malawi authorities seem to have it in for the poor guy. So on Thursday he got a ticket for "failure to display" our insurance information. We had the insurance info, no problem. But it was the first day of the new policy, and we hadn't gotten around to sticking the card in the window. He was in a bit of disbelief that this was even a legitimate crime, so he went to the police station near our house and asked. "Oh yeah - failure to display. That's bad," the secretary tells him. "So what's the fine?" Jorge asked. "It depends. Could be little. Could be big for azungu." You have to love the transparency and fairness of the Malawian justice system, right?

So yesterday Jorge headed back to court. He sat there for three hours, during which time the judge managed to see one case. There were two men, and one had panga-knifed the other in a fight. They were both charged with assault and made to pay a 500MK fine (about 3 dollars). Then the judge and all his staff went on a long donut break, rewarding themselves for the difficult work they had just done.

Finally, Jorge talked the judge into hearing his case. Although we worried that he would get a huge azungu fine, instead he was charged 1,000MK. Twice as much as the man who had KNIFED someone had to pay.

Having done his civic duty and complied with the law, Jorge asked for his driver's license, which had been confiscated by the arresting officer. "Sorry," he was told, "the woman with your license went home already. It's raining," as if this is all the reason in the world one would need to skive off work. "You can go pick her up, though" At this point, Jorge was, well, let's just say he was not in a good humor about the situation. He told them no, he would not give the woman a ride, and she could come to her job to give him his license. For this outrageous act of defiance, Jorge was cursed by the woman. "You Muslims! You people come to this country and think you can do whatever you want." She called down the evil curse of Nkhoma, or something like that, along with a few bible quotes for good measure. Although Jorge helpfully explained that he is in fact Roman Catholic, this did not seem to help.

Well, let's hope the curse was retroactive, and that his 5 hours in court counts as time already served. Heaven knows we don't need our usual vacation drama while my poor dad is visiting.


Chris said...

(twiddling thumbs waiting for the next blog entry...)

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