Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Transport in Malawi

For my journey up North last week I traveled by big buses and mini-buses. I had a lot of time to think as I travelled up and down Malawi, and I came up with this comparison of buses and mini-buses here.

Big Buses
There are three types of big buses here in Malawi.

1) High Quality - The first type are the expensive buses like those operated by the Premier Bus Company. They leave at scheduled times, make only one stop, and leave regardless of how full they are. It's one person per seat, and no standing in the aisles. They also give a little snack and a drink during the ride. This is my favorite way to travel, but the price means I can't always use it. Also this particular bus only goes between Blantyre and Lilongwe. It takes about four hours to go from Blantyre to Lilongwe on these buses.

2) Medium Quality - The second type of bus are less expensive, but still out of the price range of the typical villager. An example are most of the Axa buses. They leave at scheduled times, but make stops in all the major towns to pick up and drop off so it takes longer. These buses also leave regardless of how full they are. It's one person per seat, but they allow standing in the aisles. Or sitting, as the case may be, since people are on these buses for hours. This can make the bus feel really full. These buses travel across most of Malawi. It takes about five hours to go from Blantyre to Lilongwe on these buses.

2) Low Quality - The last type of bus is a low cost transport option that is typically used by the average Malawian for long-distances. I only took one once, on the way to visit my site for the first time in July 2014. And there is a reason for that.

These buses have no scheduled arrivals nor departures. They don't leave until they are full. That day we waited for the bus to fill up for over four hours before it left the bus depot. And when I say full, I mean every seat and packed aisles full of standing passengers. These buses make stops anywhere there is a person, a bus depot, a vendor selling stuff, or I don't know, a maize plant growing. It was ridiculous and frustrating. All told it took us 10 hours to go from Lilongwe to Blantyre that day. I didn't get any photos though.

The other major type of public transport used here are mini-buses. I've posted a lot about them, so I won't say too much more. Suffice to say, they are usually run-down vehicles the size of a VW Bus with anywhere from 16-25 people crammed in them, plus chickens, goats, fish and whatever else people need to carry. They cram in as many people as they can, sometimes even making people sit backwards in the first row, or having people stand (or crouch). It's not uncommon for doors to be falling off, pieces of metal to stick out inside the vehicle and bags of maize to be on the floor so you have to step over or on it to enter and leave the vehicle. They go short and long distances, leave only when they are full, have no scheduled times, and stop anywhere there is a person wanting a ride or needing to be dropped off.

Here is a pic from a mini-bus I took last week. I love the expression on that lady's face. She was probably wondering why this crazy azungu was taking a photo of the mini-bus. You can't see it here, but there was a guy standing just to the left of me too. Just a typical mini-bus ride in Malawi.

Mmmm, bugs

I'm in the last seven months of my service now, and I still have a few things on my PC Malawi bucket list to do. One of them was to try nsima made from cassava flour instead of the usual maize flour. Another was to try the flying ants that people eat here. I got to do both last week.

Good old nsima. It was served with a tomato and egg relish as well as cooked cassava leaves. A classic Northern Malawian meal, and pretty tasty.

Afterwards the owner of the restaurant showed is where they were drying the flying ants in the sun.

Here is a closer look. They are about an inch long and have about two inch wings.

Just remove the wings and eat. Here is me about to eat one.

And here is me after. Really, it didn't taste bad. Kinda flaky, crunchy and salty. But the legs got stuck in my teeth and that freaked me out a little bit.

I'm glad I tried them, and I would eat them again. Especially if they were prepared in some dish. Maybe a flying ant burger?

Happy Boxing Day from Malawi

Boxing Day is a National Holiday in Malawi. It has its origins with the British. There are different accounts of how it started, but it seems most likely that it began as the servant's day to celebrate Christmas, the day after the actual Christmas.

For my last Boxing Day in Malawi I went up to a place called Mushroom Farm near Livingstonia in Malawi. To get there you need to go up a very steep, winding road. We caught a ride on the back of a matola (large pick up truck).

The views here are incredible. You can see mountains and the lake for miles. At night we could see lightning far off in the distance. It was gorgeous.

Here is the little mini-dorm tent we stayed in. It looks like a little fairy house from the outside.

We hiked to some nearby waterfalls the next day. We were in a low cave when I took this photo.

This is on the way back to Mushroom Farm. Those spiky plants in the foreground are pineapple plants.

In the evenings we read and played Bananagrams and watched the lightning. And enjoyed the delicious food. Lentil dahl, salad, eggplant curry... so good.

On the way down we didn't get a ride, so we walked down. It took around two hours or so. We had some great views and I got to use some neglected muscles.

It was quite a journey to get up North, but I'm really glad I went. I saw a new and unique part of Malawi, met new people, and had some new experiences. That's what being in PC is all about.

Merry Christmas from Malawi

Khrisimasi Yabwino, Aliyense! (Happy Christmas, Everyone!)

For Christmas this year I went North. Northern Malawi that is, not the North Pole. Which means I was still far below the equator.

I visited my PCV friend Tally at her site in Rumphi. She lives near the lake and has a gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains.

Tally's family make cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning just like my family, so that's how we started our day. Don't they look delicious?

We decorated her basil plant with little mini-ornaments and then ate our cinnamon rolls with powdered sugar icing.

Then we planted maize. This isn't a Malawian Christmas tradition or anything, but she had just gotten her seeds and the weather was good for planting.

After that we headed to a nearby lodge to hang out. We bought cold drinks and played Bananagrams. Then we played a modified version where we tried to make words in our new languages-- Chichewa (me) and Chitimbuka (Tally). It was way harder than we thought it would be!

For Christmas dinner we made lentil burgers and chips (that's the Malawian term for fries). Full disclosure--Tally is an amazing cook and effortlessly made all these goodies herself. I just chopped veggies, did dishes and made sure there was Christmas music playing.

My Mom had sent me a can of pumpkin a while ago, so I brought it North so we could make pumpkin pie. We didn't have any eggs so we used a modified recipe. It was really good.

This is Wizaso, Tally's dog. Isn't he adorable? He got a special treat for Christmas too-- usipa, which are small dried fish they sell in the village markets.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Hello Rainy Season

It's Rainy Season in Malawi! The soil here has been eagerly awaiting a little moisture, and now it's green and lovely out. The maize is growing well too. It's knee high in a lot of places after just about a month of rain.

Rainy Season is a mix of bright sunshine and heat alternating with cool, overcast, wet weather. In Mulanje where I live there is also a fair bit of mugginess thrown in as well. Often all of these occur in the same day, which is why I try to always carry my umbrella with me this time of year. You never know when a downpour will sneak up on you!

Rainy Season brings out the big bugs. I caught a big black millipede in my bedroom a couple days ago, and there is another giant snail next to the chim. They have the coolest shells. I posted a pic of these last year if you want to see them.

About a week ago I saw this huge caterpillar next to the bafa. That is a matchbox next to it for scale. I like how it looks like it has a dark halo around it.

Well, I did it-- I survived my last Hot Season in Malawi! Without a refrigerator or ice or air-conditioning or a shower. So the next time there is a Summer Brown-Out in America I should be well-prepared. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

To catch a Mouserat

When I was sick, both Colii and my Mom felt it was very important to tell the doctors about the mouserat. The doctor said that could have been a factor, or it could have been something else. Nobody really knows.

But when I got home and saw how the Mouserat had pooped all over my kitchen, including on the hot plate and where I dry my dishes, and that it had again dragged my dish sponge away, I considered the possibility that it had in fact been the Mouserat.

The next morning as I was going through my purse, and I realized I had left a granola bar in it, and that the Mouserat had found it first, the possibility seemed more likely.

Apparently the Mouserat also likes dark chocolate:

Then last night it scampered along my headboard, waking me up. I tried to shake the headboard to scare it way, but it kept coming back after I would lay down. Clearly it is not afraid of me. Then I could feel it moving under my pillows! Granted, there is a mosquito net separating us, and it was separated by two pillows from me, but that is way too close for comfort. This has got to stop. Maybe this rodent did get me sick after all.

So I am trying to build my own Mouserat trap. I tried this last night, but apparently the gap was too big and it was able to get the rice underneath without upsetting the bucket. I'll try again tonight.

I'm trying to look up other catch-traps online, but my internet is really bad in the village so usually I can't open any links. I will have to try to search the web the next time I am in the City.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I'm still alive

(cue the Pearl Jam song, if you are so inclined...)

It's been a rough couple days for me here in Malawi, but thanks to the Peace Corps Medical Staff, the staff at the private hospital in Blantyre I was taken to, and of course God, I am almost fully recovered. Here is the full story. **Warning-- I'm a PCV so my squick tolerance is probably way higher than yours, unless you are Colii. So if bodily functions gross you out, you may not want to read any further.**

On Friday around 3am I woke up with a slight fever, a severe headache and diarrhea. The power was out so I didn't go hunting for my thermometer in the dark. I just drank some water, took ibuprofen and went back to bed. Around 7:30am I took my temperature, which was 37.1 degrees Celcius. Not too alarming. I figured I could still go to school later that day and run my errands in the village. I had more diarrhea and went back to bed. At 8:30am I took my temp again-- 37.4. Still not alarming. I had promised my school that I would help type a few exams, so I started work on the second one they had given me. After a few minutes I started to feel light-headed and saw spots, so I knew I was about to faint. I moved to the floor and lay down to let it pass, then relocated to my bed and fell asleep again.

I meant to wake up at 9:30am, but I slept till almost 11:30am. I was bundled up under my blankets because I had the chills, which I knew was a bad sign since it was another very hot day. I checked my temp again-- 38.1. Okay, it was obvious things were getting serious. I texted the Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO) about my symptoms, and she called me and had me drink oral rehydration salts and take a Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) for malaria, which all PCVs are given in their PC med kits. Then I was supposed to text her back with my results. While I was trying to prick my finger for the test, I started to get light-headed and I saw the spots again. I tried to push through it, but it became clear that I was going to faint so I leaned forward at the table where I was sitting so I wouldn't injure myself.

After this I am a little fuzzy about events. I know I moved to the floor, and that I woke up feeling really disoriented. I didn't know where I was for a second, but then I remembered I was a PCV in my house in Malawi. Not reassuring considering my condition. I crawled to the table and grabbed the RDT and completed the test on the floor, then took my temp again while I waited for the results. 38.4 degrees Celcius. I let the PCMO know about the results, and I think she said to keep drinking ORS and to take acetominophen to bring down my temp. I She said she would call me to check on me in an hour. After that I think I had more bouts of diarrhea. Which is really fun when your latrine is outside your house and if you stand up for too long you will pass out. I'll just say I only made it to my latrine once out of the four times, and leave it at that.

My bedroom was too hot, so I just spread a chitenje on my cement floor in the living room and lay on that, with a sweatshirt for a pillow because I was too weak to go get my real pillow. I had my med kit and my water and my phone near me on the floor so I didn't have to get up. It was like my own little sick bay. And then I tried to sleep in between sipping my ORS.

Around 1:00pm I woke up feeling worse than ever. I took my temp-- 39.7 degrees C. I didn't know what that was in Fahrenheit, but I knew it was too high. (Later I found out it was over 103 degrees F). That's when I got really scared that I was going to die here, alone in my house in Malawi. And then I vomited up all the fluid I had drank into a basin in my living room. Then I had more diarrhea, and I was too weak to go outside so I had to use a bucket.

I called my PCMO and she said I needed to get to a hospital. This is challenging in the village. There is a health clinic about fifteen minutes walking distance from my house, but I was too weak to get there, and it has very minimal facilities. There is a district hospital and a private hospital in the Boma, but I was too weak to walk to the road to catch a mini-bus, or even to walk there from the mini-bus once I was dropped off. And of course in the village, people do not have cars. She arranged for a taxi to come and pick me up to take me to a private hospital in Blantyre that Peace Corps had previously inspected and approved for PCV use. Luckily after vomiting I felt a little better, so I was able to actually pack a bag without passing out. I was still pretty weak though, so I just sipped my water and lay on the floor, waiting for the taxi.

We arrived at the hospital in Blantyre around 5:00pm. I filled out some forms, and a nurse took my vitals. Then a doctor came in to see me. Interestingly, while the nurses wore uniforms, the doctors just wore nice clothes, no scrubs or lab coats or anything. The doctor spoke with the PCMO on the phone about my care. They gave me an IV and ran some blood tests, then admitted me. I was moved to a wheelchair and wheeled over to a shared room where there was one other patient. My bed was separated from the other beds by curtains. I still had a headache, but I could feel my fever had come down, and I felt like I was finally safe, so I went to sleep.

Look, it's my first IV:

Later the doctor spoke with my PCMO about the blood tests, and they decided to put me on antibiotics, which would be delivered through the IV. I continued to sleep except when the doctor or nurses came into my room. That evening I felt my temperature go up again, and my stomach started hurting and I felt nauseous again. I also continued to have diarrhea (although it is not do bad when you have a toilet and a sink available). I asked the nurse to take my temperature and she confirmed it was high. She asked what I had taken earlier for my fever, and if I had them with me. I said yes, so she helped me get my bag so I could take my acetominophen. They brought me a basin in case I needed to throw up again, since the bathroom was around the corner and it was awkward to get to it while I was hooked up to an IV. Then I tried to sleep.

I woke up the next morning covered in sweat, with no apparent fever. My headache was gone too. I still felt really weak, but I hadn't thrown up. I was still having diarrhea though. One of the nurses said I could bathe, so I wheeled my IV over to the bath and tried my best to do it one-handed. I felt much better since this was the first time I had bathed in almost two days.

That afternoon Peace Corps arrived to pick me up and take me back to Lilongwe so I could be under the care of the PCMO. I was still having diharrea and I felt weak, but other than that I wasn't having any of the other symptoms. After my examination I went to a nearby hotel and just slept. And I have been here ever since, getting well. It has been really nice to have a shower and toilet and air-conditioning while I recover, and I feel so much safer knowing the PCMO is just a few minutes away. I started eating again on Sunday, and today I was able to eat a full meal for breakfast and walk a little. So we decided tomorrow I can go back home.

So here I am, alive and well. Thanks to everyone for your prayers and concern. I feel very grateful right now.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Exams, Heat and Noodles

It's near the end of Term 1 of the 2015-2016 school year here in Malawi. We started exams on Monday and they will continue until next Thursday. Then there is a term break until January 4th.

I have given two exams so far, and my last one is tomorrow. I have huge stacks of papers in my house to prove it. I started marking exams already, but it gets so tiring, especially in this heat. After marking for a couple hours at school this morning I took a break to organize the library a little. Then at home I organized these two huge piles of papers I had accumulated. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you are procrastinating! It'll all get done though, little by little.

It's been really hot this week. It's the bright and searing heat, not the muggy overcast heat, so my walls are all hot by evening time and it is not even cool in the mornings anymore. I'm asking Santa to please send rain and cool weather for Christmas. No gift wrap necessary.

Even though it is hot, I still like at least one hot meal a day. My new favorite hot meal is noodle soup. (Although I usually let it cool off before I eat it, so it is more like lukewarm noodle soup). I found these packaged noodles in the Boma for about K120, which is around twenty cents. It's like the African version of Top Ramen.

It comes with the noodles and a little spice packet, and you just add hot water. I got fancy because there was power for a little while, so I added some sautéed onion, tomato and a small bell pepper to the noodles. It was pretty tasty.

Friday, December 4, 2015

And the army ants are back

When I pictured living in Malawi, I imagined the wildlife as elephants and hippos and monkeys. The reality is that outside of the National Parks, wildlife is mostly farm animals, birds, lizards and bugs. Emphasis on the bugs.

Maybe it's the heat or the late season dryness, but there are a lot of critters about. I don't mind so much except when it is in my house and my yard. Just in the last couple weeks I've had a snake in the chim, a weird gurgle-growl coming from the bafa where I bathe, a new species of ants in my bedroom, and I've already posted about the exploits of the Mouserat. Plus the usual gang of geckos and house lizards and skinks that are always about. And all the spiders and bees and flies and wasps and lately, crickets and grasshoppers.

This week I found mouse poop in my oatmeal. After I had already eaten a bite. And when I poured out oats from the new box of oats into my bowl, I noticed a few small black ants had found their way in already. But it was just a few so I ate it anyway. Because oats are expensive and it's all protein, right?

Plus there is more. These weird ant-flies have been emerging at dusk out of the cracks in my cement porch for the last month or so. They seem harmless, just kind of gross. They dig out the dirt and then emerge like this.

These termites (chiswe) attempted to build a mound in my yard. The kids made quick work of destroying the tunnel yesterday. They wield a khasu (hoe) like a boss. Incidentally, I asked the kids and they said no, they do not eat these termites. There is another type with big fat heads that are the ones they eat(!)

And last but not least, the linthumbu (army ants) made another appearance. I noticed a thick trail of them a couple weeks ago about 50 meters from my house, but then they were gone. Which is typical of army ants because they are always on the move, foraging and killing everything in their path. Then yesterday the kids knocked on my gate to tell me the linthumbu were back. Great. So the kids brought the kindling, I provided the matches, and many fires were set. My grass has a big burnt patch now and a small tree in my yard got scorched. Unfortunately, that is about all we had to show for our effort because this morning I found a huge thick trail of them in my yard, just a meter or two away from my porch. I had never seen so many in one place. They were forming those thick mats where they are crawling on top of each other, like in the pictures you see online. My very own National Georgaphic special. Obviously fires weren't enough. So I got out the poison and I dusted the area where they were most concentrated in, but it seemed so futile. There were so many of them and I kept seeing more and more of them in other areas. It was really muggy too so I retreated hopelessly inside. And then I prayed. And texted Colii. But guess what-- I checked again this afternoon though and they appear to have moved on. I am so thankful!

I tried to get photos, but they didn't turn out because it was too dark. I did get this one of the larger army ant though (the soldier, maybe) wandering around on my porch. It was hard to take because when I would get close he kept making a beeline for me. Creepy. He is about 2 cm long.

Here is the colony when they were blazing through my path to school a couple weeks ago. Notice the larger soldiers like in the above photo, plus the more numerous small workers. At least, I think that is the difference.

All I want for Christmas is an army ant and mouserat-free home and yard. The lizards can stay and I'm mostly okay with all the other things. What do you think, Santa?

Fun with Atlases

There is something really cool about being a PCV in Africa, and looking at a map of North America with my students. (It also makes me a little homesick.)

Last Friday my Library Club met and we learned about atlases. We have a great big atlas with a hardcover as well as five  small paperback atlases. Just like in America, these books are restricted to in-library use only. The students had never used them before, so I showed them the different kinds of maps and information located in the atlases, and how to use the index to find different countries. The atlases are localized so they featured a few African countries like Zanzibar and Malawi, then had maps and information about north, central and southern Africa, each of the other populated continents, and then a section on the whole world.
I showed them where the U.S. is and where California is. I also showed them Scotland, since we have a partnership with a Scottish school. And then I had them all find Moldova on the map, where Colii is!

These students were the first ones to find Moldova on the map. I had to help some of the others because, you know, Moldova is kind of small. To be fair, Malawi is really small too. The kids actually laughed when they saw how big the U.S. was in comparison.

After teaching them how to use an atlas, it was time for the competition! Each team received two atlases and had to answer the following questions:

1) Name the country that is directly north of Chad

2) Name the type of vegetation that covers the largest area in Malawi

3) Name a city in North America that has over 10,000,000 people

4) Name one of the countries in Africa that has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infections

The winners got stickers which they were really excited about. But everyone left with a little more knowledge about the world and the library. Librarian success!

Friday, November 27, 2015


The rodent is back. It was quiet for a few days, but now it is knocking stuff over at night again and keeping me up. It actually might be under my bed right now...?

At first I assumed it was a mouse, but then when I saw it in my room it looked like a rat. It was like a deer in the headlights. Or more accurately, a rat in the flashlight.

Then yesterday I heard a noise in my kitchen around 6:30pm. I turned on the light, and saw this:

Notice that it is clinging to the wall! Did you know they could climb walls? Me neither, before Malawi. I am learning so much here.

Looking at it, I'm not sure if it is a mouse or a rat. So I'm calling it Mouserat a la Parks and Rec. Feel free to weigh in on this one.

I'm keeping all my food in ziplock bags to keep out ants and roaches, and then in buckets with kids to keep out rodents. But I need a new bucket because last night I ran out of room and had to sleep with my bread in my mosquito net with me. It was intact and rodent-free by morning though, and that is what counts.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from Malawi

Just like last year, Thursday started like just a normal day. I went to school and taught my classes, well class, since my second one was cancelled so the students could hear a motivational talk about blood transfusions.

But in the afternoon my friend came by and the festivities began. I was planning to cook over charcoal because the power had been out all day, but it came on around 4pm. It was a Thanksgiving miracle!

The menu was mashed potatoes and a Sprouts pumpkin soup that my Mom had sent in a care package. (Thanks, Mom!) I also had picked up some green beans (ziteba) from the village market, so our meal was looking pretty festive. And then we got a little crazy.

I had picked up some chive flavored cream cheese the day before in Blantyre, and without refrigeration this was probably the last day it was edible. So we threw that into the potatoes.

Then we poured the heated soup over that, and topped it off with our lightly cooked green beans.

This was the delicious result:

(It tasted better than it looks, I promise).

We were both stuffed after our meal, as is appropriate on the holiday. It was a good day. And this marks the end of my last Thanksgiving in Malawi. I'm looking forward to a dinner with all the fixins back Home next year!

Thanksgiving is a time to say thanks, and I have a lot to be thankful for. I'm thankful to Colii for this crazy PC adventure we are on together. I'm thankful for my site and my school and that I get the opportunity to experience all this. And I am so thankful to all of my family and friends and for all your love and support and letters and emails (and care packages!) while I do this. I miss you all so much. Ndathokoza kwambiri (I am very thankful).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

10 Best Things about Hot Season

We have had some pretty hot days here in southern Malawi the past couple weeks. Like today. And hot days mean long, sweltering, sleepless nights. Which makes me pretty cranky.

It's not all bad though, as I try to remind myself. So here are the 10 best things about Hot Season, which I will miss when the rains come.

1) My laundry dries really fast. I can start laundry at noon if I want to still manage to have a few loads all dry on my clothesline before dark. I can even (gasp) do laundry afterschool if I want to.

2) My dishes dry really fast too. I can wash a plastic plate and it will be dry 10 minutes later. I don't have many dishes so this is pretty nice.

3) I don't have to heat my bath water. This is double nice because it means less work, and a cold bath water on a hot day is pretty much the only way to cool off in the village.

4) Mangos! Mangos! Mangos! Hot Season means mangos are cheap and plentiful. I love the big green ones the best. When it's too hot to cook, a mango or two make a nice snack.

5) (Relatively) clean feet. Yes my feet are always dirty because everything is covered in dirt in the village and it's impossible to get truly clean. But compared to the mud of Rainy Season, my feet are pretty clean this time of year.

6) I can actually mop. During Rainy Season and Cold Season it takes so long for the floor to dry that I don't bother mopping. (Sssh, don't tell the amayis). But this time of year I can mop and the floor dries within 30 minutes. Which means my feet stay cleaner too.

7) Water is pretty reliable this time of year. It's nice to not have to worry about that.

8) So much daylight. I like having all this time to do things. It really helps with lesson planning too.

9) Lots of sun to charge my solar stuff with

10) Very few mosquitos. Hot Season is more wasp and bee and fly season. I still get the occasional mosquito bite at site, but they don't really get going till the rains come. So all this heat and dryness has it's upside.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Halloween Party at School

This year I started a health club with one of my teaching partners and about 15 7th and 8th graders. For their 1st project i asked them if they wanted to organize a Halloween party for the school, and they responded with an immediate "DA!" (YES). Now, this may not seem like a health related topic, but i assure you it is. The great thing about teaching the subject of "health" is that pretty much everything falls under it, because we not only teach about physical health (nutrition, exercise, diseases, puberty, hygiene, etc.), but we also teach about mental and social health as well...which opens up the door to pretty much everything. :o]

They only had about 1 month to prepare, and this is what they came up with (I was pretty impressed).

This is my favorite jack-o-lantern...i love how they turned the top upside down!

I'm not quite sure what the red blotch is supposed to be on this poster...blood?...from what, i don't know, but the rest of it is cute. ;o]

I love these accordion paper pumpkins they created!

The party, like all other school events, took place in the hallway.

This was a donation box they made for future projects. They received over 60 MDL (about $3), which they were very excited about!

They did face painting at the entrance to the hallway. They really did a great job at face painting!

Apparently Moldova doesn't have actual face paint or costume makeup, so they literally paint actual paint on their faces (including lips).

Final results:

My favorite part was their costumes. They reminded me of when i was a kid, when we had to get creative making our own costumes...before those Halloween mega stores were around, which pretty much sell super cheap, overly slutty costumes. It was nice to see some creativity.

Here's Julia, the Vice President of the club, explaining the agenda of the party.

So, at every event i've been to at my school, musical chairs ALWAYS happens. When we were preparing for this party, i tried to switch it up a bit and offer more Halloween-specific ideas, like the mummy wrap, which they said they were going to do, and they even bought the toilet paper to do it...but, alas, the power of musical chairs took over. 

They had other activities planned as well...but the only one that actually happened, was musical chairs. Then everyone just wanted the ubiquitous dance party...happens every time. They're so serious about dance here, about a dozen girls even busted out a choreographed was like straight out of a movie that suddenly bursts out in song and dance...but for was a bit surreal.

Here's our club. Not everyone is there, but these are the more dedicated members. I'm on the left, if you couldn't tell from my "costume" ;op (yes, they painted my lips black too). I wore a sweatshirt with the symbol that's on the Moldovan flag and told everyone i was Moldovan for Halloween. They liked it.