Thursday night was Jon’s last night in Malawi. To celebrate, we decided to head to a local sports bar for food and beverages. It was the typical band of misfits – Justeen, Jon, Dylan, and me – but we were also joined by Dylan and Justeen’s friend Emma (who was in town on a visit from Cape Town), and the Other Canadians, Donovan, Chloe, Steph, Kacey, and Tom. Apart from us, and the few employees that worked there, the bar was empty. Of course, this didn’t stop us from having a good night. Between pool, foosball, food, and beer, there was a substantial amount of laughter, stories about times abroad, stories of home, and even more stories about shenanigans.
Friday night was more of the same, and then some. I joined the same band of misfits, minus Jon, on an adventure to several of the local clubs. Again, the night was filled with laughter and stories, but this time accompanied by a hookah or two. Of course, given that I’ve had a constant cough since before I left Spain in mid-June, and since I’m not really a fan of smoke, I opted to stick solely with beer. I think this was a wise decision because when I woke the next morning my lungs, eyes, and sinuses were not terribly happy (thank you second-hand smoke). Regardless, it was a small price to pay for such a fun night with such a great crew.
Of course, this was only the beginning of the weekend. When I woke up Saturday I knew I had to get myself sorted as I’d accepted an invitation from Justeen to head to the beach with her, Dylan, and Emma. I can’t remember if she asked me about this on Thursday or Friday because my memory is terrible, but given how much fun our previous adventures had been, I immediately said yes. And so, after carefully extracting the remnants of myself from bed, I set off after showering to fill my belly with all the coffee in the world and a dash or two of food. With that accomplished and feeling somewhat more human, I grabbed what I thought I’d need for the trip. Given that we were heading to the beach, I grabbed an extra pair of shorts, an extra shirt, and a towel.
Team-beach picked me up not long after I’d finished breakfast and packing. I threw my bag in the trunk and jumped in the car next to Steph – who was hitching a ride with Dylan back to Salima where she has been living this summer. We stopped for cash, and then headed to a market for food and souvenirs, and then were on the road. It was around the time that we stopped for cash that I asked Dylan and Justeen exactly what the plans were. This was also the time that I learned that Dylan had already booked our accommodations and we’d be gone for the weekend. For the record – Justeen may have told me this – but I have no memory of it. That’s not her fault, I’m really just that much of a twit.
You don’t have enough clothes. You don’t have a toothbrush. You left your computer and iPad behind and you were going to work on your presentation and report for your community partner ARET. You don’t have deodorant. You don’t have ANYTHING!
These were all thoughts that immediately flashed through my mind. But just as quickly as they arrived I decided to sweep them away. I was about to spend yet another weekend with some pretty spectacular people in a beautiful country at an incredibly breathtaking lake. My enjoyment was not going to be guaranteed by a toothbrush, or a change of clothes, and it definitely wouldn’t have been guaranteed by working on a presentation or a report all weekend. What would bring me joy would be to spend another weekend sharing food, stories, and laughter with Dylan and Justeen, and their friend Emma.
And with that, I gave myself over to the weekend and whatever it would bring. And as with most decisions like this that I’ve made in my life, it was absolutely the best thing I could have done. The weekend was amazing. The lake was gorgeous, and the sunsets were stunning. We shared the pool and our patio with a group of baboons. I soaked up the sun while I watched transfixed as a stream of ants worked tirelessly around me (taking the time to rescue several that had fallen in the pool). I thought about everything, and I thought about nothing, and I completely lost myself for short moments that felt like an eternity as I inhaled the beauty and tranquility around me. But most importantly, I spent the weekend with some truly remarkable people.