Today's blog post comes from Meredith Murray, stewardship officer in the office of alumni and development. She recently returned from a trip to Malawi and shared her experiences with Peddie Voices. Her sister writes her own blog at http://takelilongwehome.blogspot.com/.
They call Malawi "The Warm Heart of Africa," and while the folks we met in Zambia were pretty friendly, too, I can see why Malawi has earned this reputation. The taxi driver who took me from the airport to Kirsten's home away from home was laughing and joking with me soon after we started our journey. And when we called him a few days later for a ride to the Lilongwe Wildlife Center, he greeted us as if we were old friends. This same man respected our quiet and sadness when he drove us back to the airport for my departure, and gamely tried to cheer Kirsten up on the return trip. On my last day at the lodge, a place I only stayed for five days, I got not one, but two HUGE hugs from the chef, Sungeni.
As for the safari in Zambia, words fail. As Kirsten pointed out, we will show everyone our pictures of elephant, giraffe, even lions, and people will politely smile and nod their heads, likely thinking "yup, that's a giraffe, just like the ones I've seen at the zoo since I was a kid." And that's completely understandable; I would probably do the same thing. But, oh, the animals. To be there, in their habitat as a spectator is one of those things I think you just have to experience first-hand to understand the real power of it. We came around a bend and there was a giraffe in the middle of the road! There were three elephants right next to our truck! We were 25 yards from a lion and lionness in the pitch dark! (As we pulled up to it, Kirsten said, "Weemoweh" and I responded, "We better hope that lion sleeps tonight!")
This was an adventure I will never forget. I am grateful for the amazing people in my life who made it possible. And I will always be in awe of the sister who takes the first bold steps and I happily follow to the ends of the earth.