This week's FS BRU (Foreign Service Blog Round Up) topic is What makes you happy at your CURRENT post. My first instinct is to go with sarcasm. When all else fails revert to sarcasm.
Smiling boxes in the pouch make me happy.
Ok so maybe sarcasm isn't what Jill is looking for. I'm sorta betting it isn't what she had in mind when she suggested this topic for the BRU. I'll try harder to find my happy thought.
These guys make me happy.
Of course they make me happy (or mad or proud or frustrated or puzzled or frightened) pretty much any where we are happen to be. So that really isn't what makes me happy in Malawi, although they do make me happy. Pretty cute aren't they?
Safaris make me happy!
Of course safaris usually mean travel to Zambia or maybe Botswana so that isn't really something that makes me happy in Malawi. Just to be clear there are places in Malawi to go on safari, just none near us. We are hoping to hit up a few of those in the coming year.
So what does make me happy at my current post? Well this is the first post where we have had a yard of our very own. In Jakarta and Frankfurt we had shared green space but no private yard. You may or may not know that I love to garden. Watching green things grow makes me happy, very happy. I am loving having fresh produce from my own garden and sharing that love with my kiddos. In the last week we have had lettuce, yellow wax beans, watermelon, artichokes, leeks, carrots, edamame and broccoli all harvested from our garden. Healthy eating at it's best.
Also from our garden are roses and other flowers that Colin has started leaving in tiny surprise bouquets all over the house. I have to confess, I have nothing to do with the flowers and general landscaping other than to hand over a paycheck to our gardeners. The veggie patch is mine, the rest of the yard is all theirs. They do a great job and not having to mow all that grass makes me very very happy.
On the same line of thinking Nature's Gift Permaculture makes me happy. I was privileged to take basic permaculture gardening classes there last year. Alonzo and Colin had fun visiting the gardens and learning about chicken tractors and composting as part of Green Camp. As a family we have been on a birding hike out there as well. The Permaculture center definitely makes me happy.
Kumbali is right right down the road from the permaculture center. Kumbali Cultural Village makes me happy. The boys attended Green camp there and learned so much. They are hoping that there will be another green camp soon. As a family we have spent more than a few Sundays hiking out there then relaxing afterwards with live music and a "Green" or two in the village. That would be a Carlsburg beer simply called "green" due to the color of the label not, thankfully, due to the color of the beer.
One Sunday last year Kumbali hosted a quilt show with the local quilting guild. The quilts were so pretty strung among the trees and draped over pots. Many of them featured local chitenje fabrics. The colors are so bright and vivid. I have a growing stash of theses fabrics that make me pretty happy. One of these days I will get busy and actually turn them into something which I am sure will make me even happier.
Birds make me happy. Africa has such pretty birds. With the pond in our backyard we seem to have a never ending stream of birds stopping by to get a drink or bathe in the waterfall. We have gotten into the habit of keeping a birding book and binoculars handy in the living room. I would love to say it is to identify new species to add to our life list, but really it is just to try and prove Colin wrong when he suddenly shouts, "Look there's a paradise flycatcher!" or something like that. Usually he is right, but every once in a while we catch him in a moment of mistaken avian identity. Then we are all very happy, well except Colin, but I guess everyone can't be happy all the time.
Ama Khofi makes me pretty happy too. It opened about a year ago, tucked back into a corner of Four Seasons garden center. It is a idyllic setting for a light lunch or a Sunday afternoon milkshake run with the kids. My favorite lunch is chicken roti roll and Ama's iced tea. Yummy. It even has a caramel latte on the menu for when I'm really craving a Starbucks fix.
Another thing that makes me happy is Domwe Island. Malawi may not have ocean front but it does have Lake Malwai where we were able to rent Domwe Island when our nephew Patrick came for a visit last September. Renting a whole island for vacation is just so "Life Styles of the Rich and Famous"! I never expected to be able to say we rented the whole island. We had a blast snorkeling, kayaking, and just hanging out watching the world go by from the deck overlooking the lake. When a rock hyrax crawled out from under the deck to peer at us from the rocks it was just too perfect. An island all to ourselves and a new, non-terrifying, critter to add to our list of African animals we have seen in the wild. Life is just perfect in moments like that.