Friday, August 1, 2008

hippo hiatus

Well I do think I've earned this one. A brief hiatus - stranded on the Shire river while the fragmented nations send transport to us. F is downloading pics, I'm taking pics of the marvels of the Hippo Lodge decor schemes, which have come a long way since the days when we used to stop here for a thirsty coke on school trips. Gin and tonic and hippo chorus, and the connection through my phone working just fine. Sigh. Perfect.

Since yesterday my 20cm high reading pile has doubled, but no chance to read it except late at night after interviews and meetings all day. But I'm slowly figuring out what questions to ask and closer to figuring out how a few clashing expectations might be merged. There was a meeting on Wednesday between one disgruntled German fellow who clearly felt he hadn't been included enough in the communications process, and the person 'owning' the project - a communications person. Evidently a history of encrusted resentment between the two of them - tension on the verge of igniting. I thought we might have to call the Security Council. But we are back on track and the schedule, which changed at least 6 times (as in, brand new draft) this week has settled into something workable, tho the German is convinced we're looking at all the wrong things. ANywaaayy... on the road at last and out of the maze of the "UN As One" Lilongwe meetings.

This morning we went to the old refugee camp near Mwanza, the one which was started during the Mozambique war, then occupied by about 10 000 Rwandan and Burundian refugees who were moved wholescale to the camp near Lilongwe, apparently because there was this problem of transient Somalian and Ethiopian folk who use it as a stopover on their meanderings through to Mozambique, South Africa and back again. We met a handful of them at the Dzaleka camp on Tuesday. Wild boys with manic eyes from lots of khat and very delighted at the sight of me. So many stories, and sadly my camera that day was flat so couldn't capture the atmosphere of that place but it was uplifting, sad, chaotic, orderly and somehow really inspiring. I'll come back to this, coz I'm feeling more and more kinship with the subject of the stateless, the lost, the wondering or the trapped in one place. I think its going to become more and more of an issue in this region, sadly.

But here I am. Isn't that a jolly fine hippo and a marvel of a fisheagle and fish water handwashing fountain? Not to mention the glorious double sink in the dining room and the pink shiny table piece.

I hope you'll be content with these random postcards for now. There is much to say, and it will come, but for now I'm grappling with how to do a coffee table book on the UN for the UN in less than 35 days.

Bollocks. The connection is proving toooo slow to upload pics. So until I do - be advised that I am sitting in the splendour of Hippo Lodge, with painted concrete near life size hippo yawning in front of colonnade of fake graeco-roman pillars. Swooping concrete fish eage with fish in mouth is a REAL water handwashing bowl. And as the sun sets, the fountains come on, and the lights surrounding the fountain change from green, to red, to purple, and yellow. BEautifully captured in the sparkly water. Will persist with pics. And ginantonic. Cheers.


Miranda said...

Oh My. Hippo Lodge! I got my first slap in the face exposure to racism there. I went with that strange white trash family from school once. God knows how I got roped into it but I did. And it was AWFUL. They were being SO SO SO terrible to the waiters and had hit someone on a bicycle in their car and thought it was really funny.

I locked myself in the loo for the whole 4 hours of being there and cried and I didn't understand why! Duh!!

Form 2 it was so I must have been - 12?

pam said...

59Great. Cant wait to see the pics of the life sized cement hippo!

Janelle said...

hello darling! so glad you are still in Blogland! HOORAY! loving your stories...flowingflowingflowing. . . xxx j

mbalame said...

Great reading Tamz - I am trying very hard, as i sit and enjoy your stories, not to turn green and cry in self pity.... keep up the incredible entries. I can wait to see photos!! Give Malawi a big fat kiss for me...

mbalame said...

P.S. This is Alena by the way!! I just realized that may be the first time I've commented!!!

Chimera said...

Hell Miranda - thats horrid and I have got those foul T-shirts too. People!
Tam- Un Book in 35 days...can't happen with UN involvement. They will never agree on anything and will tear your creative soul apart! how about that angle? A coffe table book of infighting, back stabbing and elitism? (Ach no i am too too harsh. Acutally like a lot of 'em... its just the whole 'we know better' thing that wrinkles my socks. (Wrinkles my socks...I just did that! i am genius!))
Hey good luck and looking forward to hearing more.
T xx

Miranda said...

Ha! Some of my best friends are UN people!

macjanet said...

Hippo Lodge looks like the most fantastically cheesy place in the universe. Welcome back to the land of comms.