Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's like Thunderdome out there

I seem to have arrived back to a post-apocalyptic Malawi. It looked peaceful enough when I was driving down the bucolic country roads from the airport. Same old women working their fields, the same men sitting under their trees.

Then I hit the city. It's madness here. There has been a fuel shortage ever since we left, and every gas station is surrounded by seemingly abandoned cars along the side of the road, while the pumps are swarmed by throngs of people holding jerry cans, trying to get a bit of fuel before it all runs out. At the station near my office, the police had been called out to maintain order, and others stood around the fringes watching to see if fighting would break out. It's tense. No cage-fighting, though. Not yet, at least.

And the worst thing? I saw it coming. There was a diesel shortage just before we left, and I told my dear husband, you know, that man who always listens to everything I say, "Petrol is going to be next. Make sure you fill up the tank before you leave for the airport. You should probably fill a jerry can, too."

Do you think he did? Would I even write about it had he done as I asked? Good husbands make bad copy, you should know that by now. No, of course, he ignored me. I could be the one smug SOB driving around Lilongwe with a full tank of gas right now, but instead I have to ration out my little half-tank like everyone else, forgoing the A/C, combining shopping trips...

Of course, on top of the fuel shortage there is also a critical lack of foreign exchange, grinding the economy to a halt. And today I went to the ATM and they weren't working. More crowds of people hanging around waiting.

I tell you, the bread riots are coming, you just wait. And then, oh yes, then...the cage-fighting. Excellent.

6 comments:

Joan said...

You sure do live interesting lives.

Shannon said...

Yikes! I am not sure this is what I wanted to hear after finding out out our next post will be Lilongwe. Hopefully things will get better before August.

Gwyneth said...

Ah, don't worry, Shannon - it's not really that bad. Nothing actually ever comes to violence here, and they'll eventually get the fuel problem sorted out. Malawi is a great place to get posted!

dc writers group said...

Be careful, Gwyn...thinking about you...and my husband would probably have done the same thing as Jorge...

Lex said...

Kinda' reminds me of pre AND post hurricane fun!

Tina said...

OMG...you need to start stashing cash in your mattress like my grandmother! Your lack of financial access totally stresses me out!