The moon has been bright and clear here. If I had a newspaper, I could read outside at night. But, I would probably be reading things I really don’t want to know about. The lack of news here is a blessing, at least from the intermittent blurbs I get. I feel safe and untroubled by world and national strife as I plant and care for trees. Everything here is word of mouth which promotes conversation and problem solving. This week brought two disturbing bits of local news both of which I believe point to the desperation of this particular time of year. No crops are harvestable just yet and last year’s supply has run out. So, as a local gentleman said the other day, “No workee, no money, no eatee.” (The spelling is phonetic.) The water from the mountain here goes into a pipe system which ultimately supplies 27 villages. Near one of those a bit “downstream”of us, someone dug up the pipe and stole it to sell for salvage, depriving his village of nearby water. In another incident, there is a nursery school under construction about 10 kilometers away (sponsored by some charity) and someone dismantled everything valuable which could be transported and made off with it. The chief has decreed a penalty of two goats and four big chickens for each of these crimes but they remain unsolved as of this writing. I also came upon two well armed poachers during my morning ride yesterday. My morning greetings went unanswered as they fled into the forest. Monkey hunters are pretty constant and flaunting the law.
We now have about two acres of bamboo planted on the side of our hill thanks to all the help you have provided. The hope is that in several years, the mature bamboo will supply the wood/charcoal demands on site as well as provide some timber and income from sales to the new Sustainable Charcoal Company. They intend to be picking up truckloads at various points all over the country to haul to a central location where they will make charcoal and distribute it from there. My hope is that this site becomes a model for sustainable forestry.
Two new culinary “delights” appeared on the menu here this week. The termite goes through quite a series of transformations on its way to maturity and full destructive powers. Right now, millions are flying out of giant (eight foot high) ant hills and each village has one covered with sort of a wicker net. Once caught, the insects lose their wings and go into a frying pan. Then, they turn up in front of unsuspecting volunteers from America who have to try them out of politeness. Yuck! My grandmother produced some insects one Christmas but they were chocolate covered and thus delicious. The other intrusion in our repast routine is corn as it is now starting to mature. Cow corn has never ranked high on my list. So, that’s some of the news from Malawi.
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