Thursday, December 22, 2016

Nsima is Delicous!

Yesterday we spent the day materials shopping. We were able to find everything we needed for the maize mill and also spend a good deal of time looking into different options and pricing for the components needed if we decide to do a solar project going forward. It was nice to finally be able to wear a clean pair of our own clothes since our suitcases had just arrived the day before. So all in all it was a long and tiring but successful day. 

We began our day today by heading to a local market on our way to the community. Walking through the market to purchase goat and vegetables for our lunch (more on that later) was a cool experience.  

Upon arriving in the community, we split up into two groups. Brian, Torrey, and David walked to a borehole so they could map it via GPS while Sydney, Dan, and I worked with members of the committee to assemble the mill and grind corn. Since none of us besides Sydney had seen the mill operate in person before, this was important because it allowed us to see for ourselves how it operates and what the problems are. In addition to the known problems we have been troubleshooting back at Cal Poly, we also found a problem with the fit between the pipe and the inside of the grinding rods which meant that we would not be able to grind the corn into a fine enough consistency. This was initially very demoralizing since it seemed that because of this problem we would be unable to leave the citizens of Kumponda with a working mill that satisfied their needs by the end of the trip.  

However there's no better way to brighten one's mood than admiring the beauty of Kumponda, spending time with some of its cheerful children, and enjoying a delicious meal of nsima. 

The entire time we were working on the maize mill, a few of the committee members were hard at work cooking lunch. Today's lunch was nsima, a staple food in Malawi made from corn flour and water, served with goat and vegetables which can be seen below. 

The nsima is rolled into small balls and then dunked into the vegetables or into the meat juices. However the nsima is scorching hot so most of us were lucky enough to have our committee member eating partner roll the nsima into balls for us. 

I preferred dunking mine in the meat juices but all the food tasted amazing. We ate so much that we were more stuffed than at Thanksgiving. In fact, we had so much that we were still full the rest of the day and didn't even make dinner. We're definitely looking forward to our other lunches with the committee going forward, though we probably won't eat quite as much next time. 

Although the temptation of succumbing to a food coma and taking a nap after our tasty lunch was far too strong, we resisted as there was still work to be done. We cleaned up after lunch and then headed to Levison, our machinist. There we worked with him for a few hours to determine fabrication plans for a tensioning system that we designed at Cal Poly as well as to find a solution to our newly discovered 'fit' problem. We are hopeful that the solution we came up with will allow us to develop a successful mill.

Other thoughts:

  • Sydney thought that Frozen was released during the summer but she was wrong, it was actually released on November 27th (basically the winter). 
  • Always pack a full change of clothes in your carry on in case your checked bags get lost.
  • While we would've preferred to make our first flight to Malawi, we really enjoyed the opportunity to explore Addis Ababa and experience a different country.
  • The people of Malawi are some of the kindest and most helpful people that I've met.
  • Thanks to the efforts of Sydney and Torrey, we will be spending the weekend at Lake Malawi which we're very excited about. 
  • This might just be the cutest baby ever:

  • And just to reiterate, Sydney was WRONG about when Frozen came out.


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