Day 3,4 and 5: Getting to know Makupo

By Louisa Niedermann


Top of Mount Kasungu

Top of Mount Kasungu

Day 3:

Every morning I wake up to the roosters crowing and I think how can I be in Africa. I am finally here and exploring a country I have only read about or seen on TV. This is an experience of learning and each day I am learning so many new things I had never even thought I would discover.

I think culture shock hit me for the first time today as we did a tour of the neighboring villages. As we were walking I was really excited to explore the other villages and see how they differ from Makupo. As we passed the villages the children ran to see us, they were covered with dirt.  The children seem excited to see these new people, who are they? What are they doing here? I saw the sadness in the eyes of the children and their stares hit me at the heart. All I wanted to do was cry, my eyes filled with tears, my body felt sad. It melted my heart seeing all these children, they look happy to see us but deep inside they were sad. After this feeling I was scared not knowing how my emotions were going to react to the rest of the trip; not knowing how this culture I was living in and learning about was going to hit me. I was scared of the unknown.

We continued our tour of the surrounding area by visiting the secondary school, elementary school and the school for the blind. As we toured all the schools, I could hear the faint sound of singing. When we got to the school for the blind we were graciously invited in to the classroom to watch the students while they sang. It was such a memorable moment to watch these students sing. The passion in the voices of the students was unbelievable; they put so much power into their voices. Some students even made their own noises, which made the song their own.  This was an experience I was so fortunate to see.

Day 4:

Each day we get welcomed by the women of the village “Mwadzuka Bwanji” (how did you sleep) and we have learned to respond with “Nwadzuka Bwino, kaya inu?.” (I slept well, and you?) Always after speaking one should say “Zikomo” which means thank you. I am slowly learning the language of Chichewa however, it is difficult and I do make mistakes. The women just laugh and the sounds of them laughing is an indescribable sound.

Today was a hot day and was the day we were going to walk into the town of Kasungu. The sun was beating hard on us even though it was early in the morning.  It took around and hour and a half.  I was thinking how hard this walk was, even though it was a straight walk, it was all-open, there was no shade so the sun beat straight down on us. I couldn’t imagine doing this walk twice or even three times a week.  I am starting to realize that their life is not about cars or transportation but a lot about walking.  Although I knew that most people walked everywhere, once you live it, it is a different experience.

Once we got to town, we carefully followed our leaders in order to not get lost. We explored the market and the leaders took us through the maze of the market, taking us through little pathways and through the different elements of the market. Without our leaders we would have never found our way through the different sections. I really enjoyed going to the market and can’t wait to go back to buy some fabric for Chichangis (skirts) and to make bags.

Day 5:

Today we climbed Mount Kasungu. We were going to walk there, which is around 12 km however, we decided not to which was a good decision. We hopped on the bus at 9 am. I was really excited to start the climb. As we got closer the knot in my stomach got bigger and so did the mountain.  We got out of the bus and started the climb. Only minutes after we started my breath got heavier and I felt the first drip of sweat on my forehead. The climb was a lot more difficult that I thought it was going to be. My body was aching after only a few knee bends and pulling on sticks with my arms; my body was so out of shape. I wasn’t the only one; everyone was struggling and we took breaks every so often. All the villagers who came with us, basically ran up the mountain; they made it seem so easy. We were all so out of breath and sweat was pouring off of us. The villagers just watched us; at times they were probably laughing at how much we were struggling. We finally reached the top and I could not believe it. The view was something I had never seen before and I knew I would have to cherish it because I will not see anything like it again. Climbing down was a lot easier at first, but then it got steeper. As it got steeper, I felt my legs giving out and I thought I was going to collapse at any moment. The heat was getting to my head and with every step my head was pounding; I just wanted to get to the bottom. I was really thirsty but I was out of water, my mind was spinning, I needed this climb to be over. We had finally made it to the bottom and all of us collapsed on the ground.  The pounding in my head got worse as I sat but local children were so fascinated by all of us “Azungu” (white person). As the children approached my mind wandered and I felt better.

1 thought on “Day 3,4 and 5: Getting to know Makupo

  1. Susan van Gelder

    You have certainly had some adventures. Do you think the children were really sad or do you think, knowing what you know about the way you live in Canada that you were thinking they should feel sad because they are so much poorer. That is the life they know. I think, sometimes, we put our emotions on other people. This is not to say that their lives are easy. They face many challenges – but their strong sense of community and support of each other is something we often lack here. I am sure they do experience a lot of happiness as their expectations in life are very different from ours.


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