Thursday, January 06, 2011

Jan 5, 2011 First Day after Workshop

Last night was an early night. We were in the room around 9 and lying on the bed watching TV. It would be nice to sit outside but the bugs swarm even in the dark. This is to be expected as we are at the lakeshore and the rains have been fairly regular – hard and heavy for an hour or two every day.

We lay on the bed as we prefer not to sit on the chairs despite the fact that the bedclothes may be dirtier than the chairs. But I’ll write about that later.

Thank you Steve Jobs. I listen to music and podcasts and read e-books (I’m just about through the complete Sherlock Holmes) when I wake up – I am usually awake between 4 and 5 – at first I thought it was thinking about the workshops I am doing but this morning I realized that I’ve already had 7 or 8 hours sleep by then which is more than I usually sleep at home.

Breakfast as usual this morning and then I sat in on the first hour or so of Margaret’s workshop. She is doing Program Validation and her approach seems to fit nicely with the work I did on Monday and Tuesday.

Then Helene and I spent an hour in the Business Office getting a solid 20 minutes of connection time in – electrical failures and internet drop offs are frequent and the wired connection is slower than my wifi at home. But I did get to send a few emails, post some blog entries and upload some pictures to facebook.

We want to go over to Cape Maclear and to Monkey Bay and we asked if we could use the driver from the Poly (we offered to pay for the petrol) We didn’t get a clear answer at first so we approached the desk manager who called into Mangochi to find out how much it would cost – 16,000 kwacha – around $110. Fortunately we got permission to use the Poly driver if we provided 5000 Kwacha for petrol which we gladly did. Fredson is a nice man and knows the area very well. We are going tomorrow morning right after breakfast.

Helene wants to ride a camel so we went over there but there weren’t enough minders to let her ride – perhaps tomorrow.

I decided I’d have a nap in the middle of the afternoon and slept from 3 or so until after 6 – I will never fall asleep tonight.

When we met Margaret for a drink before dinner she told me that many of the participants were sick and hadn’t attended the afternoon session. They will normally go in and out of the room as their cels ring or as they feel they need to make a call but this afternoon was unusual for the number of people not attending for the whole time.

I have some serious concerns about the arrangements made for this week. I asked why we were not ding the workshops in Blantyre and was told that because these folks are busy they would be in and out checking in with their offices, etc.

Well we are out in Mangochi and they are in and out of the sessions with their cels anyway. And now many are sick and it is pretty clear what is making them sick. The food is deadly – I don’t mean just yucky or tasteless I mean it is sickening. It is pretty clear that the food on the buffets (and that is what is available to us) is being recycled – we are offered fish, chicken and meat. The only time we can be sure of the meat is when they barbecue (only twice so far) and then I ask for a burned piece. As I am paying for Helene’s food it is a little disappointing that for 3000 Kwacha ($20) a meal there is very little that is edible.

The rooms are spacious but filthy. Surprisingly the bathrooms are lit well and almost clean but showering is a challenge and no one – not even the Malawians walk barefoot inside their accommodations.

The resort is physically beautiful but looks like it hasn’t been maintained for months. There is a new general manager and a new food services manager – very new – we’re talking weeks – it is clear that they haven’t yet had a chance to get themselves organized.

Which brings me back to my question of why are we at this resort at all? The Mt Soche had meeting rooms and I am sure they could have found a classroom we could have used in Blantyre. The attendance would have been as regular as it is here.

Perhaps I’ll lose a pound or two


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