Nyumba Wangu

It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been at site for three weeks. Time is flying by, but I don’t have enough of it right now to write a lengthy post. So instead I’ll just post some pictures of nyumba wangu (my house) to appease everyone that keeps asking me if I live in a mud hut. Spoiler alert: I don’t.


DSC_1029This is my little house, with my recently built bedframe drying out in front. It was delivered with the varnish still sticky, but I’m incredibly excited because this ends my three months of sleeping on the floor!


DSC_1020I’m more proud of constructing these shelves than I’ve been of anything in my life, including my undergrad. Some scrap wood, nails, twine and bricks and I’ve got myself a jungle kitchen. Also seen: my thermos that lets me wake up to a cup of coffee and a jar of hotsauce with a candle sticking out of it. DSC_1023

Fruit, veggie, bean, and tea baskets. Everything I eat here is local, organic, and free range. In other words, I buy it from a guy on the side of the road. Unless of course it’s Twinnings Irish Breakfast, Green Blueberry Tea, Carribou Coffee Lakeshore Blend, or Celestial Sleepytime tea from a care package. Hint hint.



Home is where your bug net hangs.


I still may not have much furniture, but with a little creativity and plenty of scrap cloth my nyumba is starting to feel cozy.

DSC_1024Chitenje have 101 uses. Everything from skirts, cheesecloth, water filters, or wall decor.

I brought a little bit of Michigan and Minnesota to my new Great Lake home.


Also disproportionately proud of my first piece of furniture, my $3.00 custom bookshelf! And my map, which I stole from the recycling bin in the Landscape Architect department in college, is super useful in explaining where Minnesota is.  To be fair, I need to explain this to Americans as well.

DSC_1018My attempt at decorating. I’m starting to press and dry flowers.

And now what I know you’re all really curious about: kitchens, showers and toilets. Village life is pretty basic. No electricity or running water. Yes, I do poop in a hole.  I also cook over a fire most days (or eat fruit and peanut butter by the spoonful if I’m feeling lazy) and take bucket baths with water I’m too lazy to heat. Everything takes a bit longer here, but I’m quickly falling into the slower pace of life. I may not bathe every day, or eat every meal, but I’m learning to appreciate small pleasures. The avocado, banana and honey pancakes I made this morning over a fire will be the highlight of my week.

DSC_1007My kitchen from the outside, of the three buckets one is for dishes, another for laundry and the third for cooking/drinking/bathing. Next paycheck I’m going to invest in more buckets, but in the meantime I’m getting good at carrying them all on my head.DSC_1008

This is my chronically underutilized shower. I’d rather bike the 12k to my friends house and take a shower than to dump a bucket of cold water on my head.



The borehole where I get my water everyday.


And of course, I don’t get cell service or wifi in my little house in the jungle. So when I post, it’s from the Nkhtata Bay BOMA (British Occupied Military Area) where I can stock up on groceries and enjoy 3G cell service.



DSC_1041View on the walk from my house to the paved road.


My village compound.


View of the Nkhata Bay, as seen on the way to the resort where I sip $0.65 beers and charge my electronics.


DSC_1063There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel grateful for being stationed in such an incredibly beautiful place. I’m so lucky to be less than a kilometer from the paved road, giving me access to all the amenities and tourist attractions of Nkhata Bay, while still enjoying the slow paced village lifestyle. While I still may be eating my meals cross legged on the concrete floor of my living room by the light of my headlamp, my nyumba is really starting to feel like home.


4 thoughts on “Nyumba Wangu

  1. Love these pictures and the updates, Megan!!! Thank you for sharing your adventure! We all love you!
    The Smalleys and Grandma and Grandpa Z💕


  2. Missing you, this birthday week. Hope you have a nice birthday. It will be interesting to see if there are any local traditions. (I’m guessing no cake and ice cream) We will be thinking about you.

    Love, Mom


  3. Love the pictures….. what an amazing adventure. Couldn’t help but notice you have a Lake Michigan bathymetry map. I’m trying to locate your Prezi presentation from last summer. Do you have it somewhere? Rhett wants it.


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