Thursday, January 31, 2008

Old Man River

We have had really heavy rains so far this year in Malawi. Already, a number of districts have flooded. I have been out in rural areas a few times recently and seen fields of maize, withered and destroyed by overflowing riverbanks. It makes me concerned about the harvest this year, and I expect there will be more vulnerable people needing support when I return this year in the fall.

One of the exciting things about the rain, though, is that the Lilongwe River, our little muddy trickle of a sewer, is a full-fledged river now, with whitecaps and rushing currents. I drive over the river every day to get to my office, and I get to see the excitement that the flood has created, some of it happy, some of it sad.

Yesterday morning on the way to work we saw crowds of people peering over the sides of the bridge to the bank below. Jorge and I speculated that perhaps someone had drowned and had washed up near the market, or perhaps, even more surprising in Malawi, was even murdered. Today I learned the sad news though – someone picking through the washed up refuse of the river had found a bag with a newborn baby, premature and probably stillborn, that had been thrown over the edge of the bridge.

That wasn’t the only big event at the river yesterday. When Jorge came to pick me up at work, he told me, astonished, “Today I saw a man in a woman’s swimsuit.” While this is fairly amusing in itself, it wasn’t really that unusual. You actually get used to some very strange fashions when you live in Africa, and gender-confused clothing is pretty common. However, when we drove back home, the bridge was lined with cheering crowds staring down at the water, and we realized that the man was going to swim across the river. We didn’t stick around to see if he made it, though.

1 comments:

Mary said...

Gwyn:

It is nice to see the picts of you and know that you are ok:) Hope that you are doing well!

Miss ya! And, loved your pregnancy picts:)
mary