We numbered 7 in my send-off party. Since I only had 3 pieces of luggage plus a helmet, I really felt the love from my friends and family.
The 10 minute walk to the main road stretched into a ridiculous 15 as our rambunctious group paused and posed every so often for the unofficial village photographer – my host brother.
Nobody cried. We were all smiles. Yet it will remain in my heart as both the happiest and saddest moment of my short time in Chikwawa.
I already miss them all.
Before we left the house, I remember giving little Bridget the biggest hug – worrying that she’ll remember me and have abandonment issues, worrying that she’ll forget the brief encounter from her 6 year old mind.
In the morning, one of my newest friends gave me an ice cream cone that he had specially bought and kept from the day before. Just for me. I was touched and ecstatic that he knew me well enough to give me the perfect gift. I was also disappointed that it was not a gift I could keep to remember.
All these moments, the feels, the look, the smells, the sounds… I wish I could preserve them in a capsule forever because I’m so scared of the wear and tear that they’ll undergo with the passage of time.
In a global era, keeping in touch is possible. But what about when my friend doesn’t have a phone, an email account, or a home address?
Having to say goodbye for probably the last time to people who have become so special to me seemed to underline this particular development frustration that I have with Malawi. The lack of communication or information infrastructure to connect Malawi to the world.
But today isn’t the day for such musings. Today is a day for goodbyes.
So goodbye. I’ll miss you all.
**I realized after originally posting this that it sounds like none of my friends have phones. Most of them do and they use WhatsApp. My host parents do not and I have a few friends who are in their teens who do not yet have phones. The home address thing is pretty universal for my friends, however.**