Here are just a selection of somewhat random facts:
(For reference 1000 Malawi kwatcha (MK) is roughly equivalent to $6.oo). Badly inflated currency is a little inconvenient to use.
Instant coffee costs about $7 per half pound or MK1200 per 200 grams (Africafe is the preferred instant brand. It is still instant, but noticeably better than Nescafe).
Regular coffee costs about $5.45/pound or MK1800 per kilogram. One of the small but pleasant surprises about being here is that the coffee is much better than previously reported to me. A number of different brands of coffee grown in Malawi can be purchased. I have become a fan of the Mzuzu Specialty Coffee. (The cheapest place to buy it is at the Cross-Roads BP station. It is about MK300 less than anywhere else.)
Coffee consumption-I have never kept track of my coffee consumption before, but thought it would be interesting. From 21/11/10-11/12/10(4:09 pm as I am writing) I have drunk 122 cups of either brewed or instant coffee! (51 one instant cups and 71 cups of brewed coffee). 5.8 cups/day the avg. The least drunk in one day was 3 and the most was 11 (2 times) followed by 10 and 9!
Cheddar cheese costs about $6/lb, mozzarella is about the same.
By contrast, produce:
-potatoes MK100 per "bundle" (about 10 sm.-med.) (if you're a regular customer and you buy more
than one bundle, often they will throw in more out of a large pile)
-lettuce MK 50 per small head
-onions MK 50-100 per bundle (three large or about 6 small)
-green peppers MK 50-100
-green beans MK 50 per bundle (very fresh and good)
-carrots MK 50-100 per bundle (depending on their size)
-bananas MK 150-200 per bunch
-enormous mushrooms (saw these for the first time this week) MK 500 for 3-4
- strawberries MK250-350 per cardboard tray
-fresh garlic MK 100 for a small bag
-but apples are MK50-70 per apple (they're imported from South Africa)
Milk fresh milk(which is dispensed from a stainless steel drum or a (clean, we hope) garbage can depending on when you get there) is MK130/litre. UHT milk in the box with a long shelf life is 300/litre. (I will let you work on your conversion skills with this one.)
Bread (always fresh) MK115 per loaf
Ground beef or "mince" is about $8/lb.
Boneless skinless Chicken breasts are about $1.50/lb
Cornflakes costs about $3.3/lb or MK1200/kg.
Petrol/gas is $5.86/gal. or MK256/litre
Clear packing tape is $8 per roll!!!!
Fuel Economy The Carlisles are the proud owners of a 1997 Toyota Ipsum. This is a cross between a station wagon and a mini-van. 18.7mpg or 80kpl.
Front page news is when the Malawian Government is accused of steeling MK 6 million or about $36,000 from one of the political parties! There is not much going on here!
More front page news there is a shortage of subsidized fertitliser which is very important to the average Malawian. However, the Minister of Agriculture assures the people that according to his records 95% of all the subsidized fertiliser has been distributed. Therefore, it is impossible for there to be a shortage!
Commuting times on the way to work it takes me about 4 minutes and the return trip is 6 minutes (it's only up-hill one way)
Malawian currency's largest bank note is the MK500. This is rather inconvenient since a shopping trip usually requires taking MK30,000. (This translates into three little rubber-banded stacks of 20 bills each). You always feel like you're carrying too much money.
Conversion rates for USD to MK: At the ForEx with cash MK175-180 (depending on the amount) per $1; ATM/Bank transfer 150 per dollar; transfer from support account in states to academy to a check 165 per dollar.