Back to the USA…then Back Again to Malawi

(Cadillac Mountain)

This past month has been a whirlwind. So much has happened that it’s too exhausting to even begin to describe – so hope you’ll settle for a general overview.

(Sami, Scott, Marshelle and Ben)

Returning to Austin truly felt like ‘home’. I LOVED spending time with friends and family – yet the days flew by! Instead of feeling sated with my USA fix, my whole being is craving that feeling of connectedness, the innate comfort of being surrounded by familiarity. Just driving my little Miata filled me with pure joy…especially as I navigated roads free of obstacles such as chicken, goats and throngs of people weaving in and out of traffic.

Sami, Amy and Andy
(Sami, Amy and Andy)

Plus I relished in all the recognizable landmarks – eating at the Hula Hut, walking around town lake, drinking coffee at Austin Java and now the newly opened Fair Bean (Andres, your coffeehouse is amazing), and shopping at HEB, Central Market and Whole Foods!

(Atop Sandy Beach)

And talk about the ultimate in consumerism, I had the pleasure of arranging a consumable shipment to Malawi and spent thousands of dollars on household goods. I explored every single aisle at Costco – which took quite a while! Items as simple as parmesan cheese, jalapeno peppers, black beans, tortilla chips and salsa are a hot ticket item here! Meanwhile, David and Siham’s back room looks like a convenient mart (sorry guys, still waiting on the paperwork for the shipment).

(David and Siham)

I also marveled over the fact that the entire city is virtually wireless! It’s amazing what you take for granted…access to the Internet with a fast connection to boot! Life is sweet!

(Jazzy, Mayday, Sami and Maia)

On the flip side, upon my return to Malawi I discovered a new ‘web filter’ on our server! I no longer have access to all my favorite sites, including Flickr, Myspace, Facebook and You Tube to name a few. So if any of you are waiting for a response on any of my ‘social network’ sites, please take note that I am currently searching for a solution.


On a positive note, I feel extremely fortunate having such amazing friends. Even though I’ve been away for over a year, it felt as though I had never left! What a beautiful thing – to be able to pick up a relationship where you left off years ago – as if the transition was seamless. Plus I am truly grateful that so many of you made a conscious effort to see me while I was in Austin! Bobby, thanks again for throwing the BBQ! Eric, thanks for your hospitality. Matt, Brandy, Kat, Everett and Tina, thanks for your loving friendship throughout the years. And Kathryn, thanks for putting me up for the night in DC. I apologize for not naming each of you individually, but please know how much I enjoyed and appreciated seeing you.


I also had the pleasure of spending time with my Chihuahuas, Chula, Chico and Pancho! I love those little guys! Andy and I spent a lovely afternoon hiking around Enchanted Rock – although I think it was too hot for the dogs.

(Chula, Chico and Pancho)

(Chilling out on Enchanted Rock)

And the main reason for our return to the states was to celebrate Marshelle’s Bat Mitzvah. We had an enormous family reunion in Maine and spent ten days visiting relatives in Bangor and Portland! Deane and Grace surprised us all by getting married while everyone was together! They tied the knot atop a lighthouse overlooking the Atlantic.

(Deane, Marshelle and Grace)

But the highlight was seeing all my nieces and nephews (although truth be told, they were a wee bit rambunctious and wild). Imagine four kids under the age of five in conjunction with my mom – whose energy level alone ranks right up there with the best of them! Talk about a recipe for endless chaos!

(family reunion)

Children also mark the passage of time. I feel as though I have remained the same for the past twenty years, yet during my brief time in Malawi my nieces and nephews have morphed into different beings! Their personalities are beginning to shine – with complex vocabularies and thought processes.

(the kiddos during the wedding)

My Uncle Steve and Arlene never cease to amaze me! Their kindness and generosity are indescribable. Thank you both for everything!

(Uncle Steve and Arlene)

And for those of you who have never been, Maine is one of the most gorgeous states! Aside from the delicious lobster, scallops, and steamers that we feasted on almost daily, the countryside and coastline are spectacular.

After Marshelle’s Bat Mitzvah in Bangor (probably the largest STERN gathering in our lifetime), everyone headed to Acadia National Park where we rented a house on the ocean. Bar Harbor is breathtaking, from the vistas atop Cadillac Mountain to the rocky cliffs adjacent to Sandy Beach to the quaint artsy boutiques and rugged outdoor sporting goods stores lining the streets.

(Downtown Bar Harbor)
By in large, it was a fabulous visit.

Now I’m back in Malawi and feeling nostalgic for all my friends and family. Plus, Andy decided to remain in Austin for a few more months to work and to spend time with his family – which just makes my return to Lilongwe that much more difficult. It’s been extremely lonely returning to this house without him.


However, I am realizing that I have incredible friends here, too. Lilongwe is starting to feel familiar and like ‘home’. I’ve had a steady stream of friends stop by my office or drop by the house – just to check in and say hello. Every meal has been a social gathering, complete with a few coffee breaks thrown in. I must say, I feel truly blessed having such a strong network of support throughout the world.

(Hanging out at Uncle Steve’s)

Please continue to keep in touch…I’m going to use these next few months to focus on work and my dissertation. However, it’s always great to hear from each of you!

Much love,

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