Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tues, Aug 12: More Logistics

Andrea: Drifting in through the windows this evening is the noisy chatter of college students, the smell of someone burning a trash pile with lots of plastic, and the sound of wonderful African singing from somewhere on campus.

I spent much of the day getting Joel and Emma ready for school: Emma to school for assessment exam, meeting Joel's headmaster, buying school supplies, looking for the proper uniform shoes and socks. Eric again spend much of his day trying to deal with buying a car. He and Patson finally settled on one to buy and a scheme to buy it, and Patson loaned us enough cash that with what we were able get from the ATM we could pay 25% of the total. That was 500,000 MK – all in 1000 MK notes. Counting that pile of bills took a while. Someone got a piece of paper and a pen and wrote up the agreement about how much more we will still pay once we figure out how to get the money from our US account, and that was that. We drove away in a little blue VW Polo. Whenever we start it up it dings and a voice announces something in Japanese, but we have no idea why. The owner's manual is in Japanese too.  And the FM radio dial only goes between 70 and 85 or so; apparently those are the frequencies they use in Japan.  Not so helpful here.

Eric then spent a good piece of the evening talking with US bank people on Skype about how to get our money from there to here. Most banks don't do international transfers any more, but one of our Visa cards will let us do a large cash advance for a 3% fee. So tomorrow we'll meet Patson at the bank, withdraw a bushel of kwacha, and give it to him right away so he can put it in his account. He has generously loaned us a lot of kwacha on three occasions to get us settled here and help with the car down payment, and we want to pay him back without lugging a suitcase full of kwacha through the streets.

The African singing has now been replaced (or drowned out) by the thumping bass of a radio, and loud voices. Somebody must be having a party. (Joel: What, just like every other night we've been here?) Our house is right at the edge of campus, at the end of a row of the student houses and a stone's throw from some dorms. College students at Bunda College of Agriculture act a lot like college students at Penn State, I guess.

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