Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Some advertising on the street near hotel (click on the photo to enlarge)
This is a photo from the top of hill above the
hotel, and the sign at left is on the wall shown
in the centre of the photo.

March 9th

Bobby and I arrived in Toronto safe and sound with a fairly uneventful flight other than Bobby had a less than desirable seating companion....I will leave it at that! I was lucky enough to be seated with a lovely older lady from Oxford, England who was traveling over to meet her daughter and new grandchild, who live in Toronto. She has 12 grandchilren in all, and we had a great little visits on and off during the flight. Bobby and I shared a cab over to the Ramada hotel, checked in, then headed for the showers. We had met Brad while checking in, and they were going over to a little Irish pub for a couple of "Greens", as Dennis and I liked term the consumption of a few beers in Malawi. Some of the Uganda crew joined us at the pub, and we all had a bite to eat. We shared some great stories about our experiences in Malawi with Joan, Ruth, Tammy, and Gary. Charlie was not able to join us at the pub, and Jeannette, had arranged to fly back home early from Uganda, as she had become quite sick, but had recovered enough to travel........they suspected food poisoning. We all agreed that the rest of us had been very fortunate during our 2 assignments in Africa, to not have gotten any ailments other than a touch of the good ole travellers diarhea.

After a couple of hours the jet lag had definitely kicked in, and everyone was exhausted. I awoke in the middle of the night after having what I thought was quite a good sleep, and it was only 1:30 AM. Not able to get back to sleep, I finished a book, and worked on the computer for about an hour, then managed to get back to sleep for a few hours.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Arriving at Mama Mia's restraunt

Going for lunch with Brad, Paul and Bobby

March 7

Today we say our goodbyes and make the long flight back to Canada. We left the hotel at 10:30 am, and flew from Lilongwe to Jo'burg, arriving at about 4 pm. We then had a 5 hour layover in Jo'burg, which really dragged out. Left Jo'burg around 9 pm, and arrived in London at 6:30 AM London time. Actually got some sleep on the plane this time. After arriving in London, we had to clear security again, and the one small suitcase that I was now using as a carry-on had a small jackknife in one of the pockets that I had forgotten about. Well, you would think they discovered an International Terrorist plot. They gave me the gears about how it is illegal to have anything like that in your possession in England, and I had to wait for an hour for the police to come and make a report about the incident. The "Bobby's" were really good about the whole thing, and after a few questions, they gave me back my passport and boarding pass. They said they get quite a few incidents each week and lot of them are to do with pepper spray, which is illegal in Great Britain as well. Lesson learned......make sure anything sharp or liquid over 100 ml is in the checked baggage.
For some reason, Brad, Paul, Nicky, and Dennis were booked onto an earlier flight than Bobby and I, so we had another 5 hour layover in London......lucky us! We arranged to get into an airport lounge however, which gave us access to the Internet, snacks, and coffee and Baileys, so they time went fairly quick. We worked on our blogs, checked our e-mails, and before we knew it we were heading down to board the plane for Toronto. We will spend a day and a half there to share stories with the Uganda team about our experiences in Africa.......looking forward to it, but jet lag could be an issue.
Gifts from the FINCOOP
Presenting Certificate to the President and GM

Thoko and I at the MUSSCO office

Mar 5-6

Friday, March 5th was our meeting with the FINCOOP executive committee and management. We went to the office for a few hours in the morning to finalize our report and print off copies for everyone. Brad and I went to Mama Mia's for lunch that day, and as we were walking over Booby called to say that they had just arrived in Lilongwe, but would check in at the hotel before going for lunch. After lunch we headed back down to the FINCOOP as Thoko was supposed to be coming up to visit with me for awhile and attend the meeting. Thoko was waiting for us at the office, and she looked great, especially since she had been sick for the past 4 days. We had a good chat, and then held our meeting with the Board and Management. They were quite happy with our report and recommendations, and presented us with a couple of Malawi paintings at the end of the session. The President then inivited us out for supper to Don Brioni's, which is right across the street from their office, and where we had eaten the previous night. The food was quite good on Thurs. night, but I had a sirloin steak this time and it was very tough to chew. We had a great time with visiting with Thoko, Anthony, Blessings and the board members. We left the restaurant at about 10 pm and met up with the rest of the team at the hotel for a drink to end the night. Dennis and I were the last to leave and were sitting at the bar on the same corner that Brad and I usually played crib. All of a sudden there was a brown furry thing climbing over the edge of the counter, and it ran right past my arm under the cappiccino machine.....we looked at each other and said in unison "what the f*&%$ was that! Then it ran under our bar stools and headed for the corner. We were shocked, but could not help having a good laugh at our reactions and expressions. The bartender explained that it was a Malawi rat, and that it had probably eaten some of the poison they had out, because they normally don't show themselves when people are around. They can sure move though.....

March 6th we had the day off to do some more shopping at the market and just hang out until our farewell supper that evening with the MUSSCO staff. Attending the supper was our 6 Malawi Team members, Ingrid and Dereck from the CCA, Sylvester, Kingsley and Dickson from the MUSSCO office. We all met at the Lilongwe Golf club, where Brad and I had golfed on Wedndesday. We had a few drinks and appetizers (chicken livers, which most of us thought were little chunks of beef!!!) and I had one last Chambo supper before leaving the country.
It is sad to be leaving this beautiful country, and we will cherish our time spent in Malawi, and the friendships and acquaintances we have made during our 2 visits. The credit union movement in Malawi is growing quickly, and I sincerely hope that they can manage this growth and continue to prosper. Hopefully we have been able to provide them with some helpful suggestions and recommendations for their SACCOs. Even if they only implement 1 or 2 things our time here will have been successful.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lilongwe Wildlife Park

Bella the Lioness playing around...

Lilongwe wildlife park...the lion's name is Bella. The Verhelst's will get a kick outta that!

At the FINCOOP Branch and the Market

Brad standing at the doorway to the Branch
Mavis, Branch Manager at the Market Branch

Selling Chickens at the Market in downtown Lilongwe

More photos from the tour of Lilongwe...

Banda Memorial in Lilongwe

March 4th

Back to the FINCOOP today to finish our meetings with their management staff and work on our report back to the Executive committee tomorrow. We requested a tour of Lilongwe when we got there in the morning and they were happy to oblige. Blessings, the Finance Manager took us for a driving tour of the city just before lunch. We visited their branch office in a market across town (see pics), and then did a tour of “Capital Hill” where all the government buildings are located. We then went to see the memorial for the 1st President (Banda), who led the country until the age of 96, and passed away at the grand ole age of 99. We then visited a nice Lodge located on the river in the middle of the city, and took a walking tour of the Lilongwe Wildlife Park, which is similar to a Zoo in Canada. We saw crocs, baboons, python, small deer and a lioness. Will try to post a couple of photos. After the tour of the city we took Blessings out for lunch to Summer Park, as it is close to their office. Big mistake! I think we got the same waiter that screwed up our orders and caused a 2 hour lunch as last year. I was going to order pizza, but they said that it would be about 20 mins., so we all ordered the chicken instead to speed things up. Well, I got my order fairly quickly, but Brad’s was about 20 mins later, and blessings waited close to 45 mins for his. We all ordered the same thing! Last chance for SUMMER PARK!

It is 6 pm and raining quite hard here at the moment. Brad and I were going to walk to a restaurant a few blocks away, but may have to change plans.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Setting up for a drive at Lilongwe Golf Club

Jewellery, carvings, etc. purchased at market

Eat your heart out Lynn, Tim & Glenn (curling team)

Today was a public holiday in Malawi called Martyr's day, so we decided to get in a round of golf. above are some pics at the golf club, and some of the souvenirs I have purchased. The golf course is not in great shape for all the rain we have had. The fairways are full of weeds, teebox's are bare and weedy and greens are quite rough and slow. Thomson lake course is much nicer in the summer...but I will take this one any day in March, specially with the temp today being about 28 celcius (eat your heart out - TO MY curling team). It was actually drizzling quite a bit while we were playing, otherwise it would have been too hot and humid. We finished just before a good shower hit the course. It is raining quite hard here after supper. Much more rain than we experienced last year. but it is the "rainy season" in Malawi.