My name is Blake Reynolds, and for the next few weeks I will be travelling to Malawi as part of the Canadian Co-operative Association's Management Coaching Program!

Thanks for stopping by as I prepare for, travel to, experience and finally bid farewell to the 'Warm Heart of Africa'!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Two Amazing Weeks!

Thank You...and you...and you...and YOU!
First off, thank you to Paul, Tammy, Nathalie, Stephanie, Trisha, Allison, Christine, Barb, Corey and Lisa.  Your kind notes have been a real blessing and have made me feel pretty good knowing that people at home are thinking about me.  These days it takes a bit more effort to actually sit down write a letter to someone and it has been so very much appreciated over the last couple weeks.  Without the support of all my awesome fellow employees and the leadership at OMISTA Credit Union, I certainly wouldn't be here in the first place!
It was an interesting day yesterday, as my comfort levels were certainly pushed at the city market.  I don’t have that “bartering skill” that many seem to have, and even in my home town I hate shopping…so needless to say I did my best, almost certainly over paid for what I got, and probably felt some disappointment over my cowardice and lack of useful trading skills.  One thing I did learn for next time is to bring lots of ball caps, as Erin was able to trade hers for something the vendor wanted me to pay 1,500 kwacha for!
Back the hotel we managed to meet up with Laurie and after waiting out a brief but powerful downpour we decided to walk down to what has become our favourite eating establishment: Don Brioni’s.  It was an interesting walk, as the sloped dirt side streets serve as the perfect conduit for some interesting rivers (like real rivers) pouring down into the drainage systems along the main road.  We asked one local man  how we should cross and he replied “It’s no problem, just walk across”…which he proceeded to do just that..with water up over his ankles.  When I noticed him on the other side pouring water out of his boot, I decided to talk a more circuitous but dryer route.
As it was our fourth visit, we were welcomed by name and told about some fantastic new appetizers he had concocted...delicious!  We bid farewell to Don and his wife’s fine establishment and made our way back to the hotel.  It was a weird feeling as I started to pack a few things and realised I would soon be leaving this beautiful country with so many more things I wanted to experience.  That of course, is balanced by my anticipation of seeing my awesome family after what has surely been a rough 3 weeks.  Without their support and the support of my friends and other family at home, I truly could not have done this.
We made our presentation to the Auction Holding Employees SACCO this morning.  They are a pretty healthy SACCO with good leadership at both the board and management levels so it’s difficult in some ways to make many suggestions.  But that being said, our observations and suggestions were very well accepted, and it was sad to say good bye to these wonderful people.
Erin & Grace
Grace gave us a beautiful memento of Africa which I will always cherish, and then it was time to go.  I can’t wait to see the future updates on how this SACCO has progressed.  After Auction Holdings, we managed to steal a couple minutes to visit Fodya one last time and wished Rita and Brian the best for themselves, their families and their SACCO.
This afternoon we will re-joined with our other Malawi teammates at MUSCCO.  As we were already in Lilongwe, we were able to have an extra day with our SACCO which was very nice.   I’m really looking forward to hearing about their own adventures and stories, and perhaps sharing a few of my own.
Wow, what a couple weeks!
Are we leaving already?  What an amazing two weeks!  When you arrive in Malawi, it’s laid back vibe makes you feel like you have all the time in the world.  “Malawi Time” really does sneak up on you.  Unfortunately this second week, the realisation dawns on you that there are things left to be done, places left to be seen, adventures yet to be had and stories yet to discovered…and time suddenly is not on your side.
I will probably get one more post in before we begin our journey to London and leave this beautiful country.  12-hour flights are not exactly “blogger friendly”, but will no doubt give me lots to write about!

Until next time,


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