This is the first post in the series of “Memorable People I Met in Life” on this blog.
above is the girl in question: Lena dressing up as a Christmas gift for a party-bus trip on Christmas season in Lilongwe – this is an example of how brilliant and crazy she could be
I shall forever remember how amazed I was when I tried her homemade cinnamon roll for the first time. It was the best homemade pastry I’ve ever had! I did not expect (and didn’t want to admit) that she was such a great baker, potentially (and then proved to be) way better than myself. 😉
The baker was Lena Ryde Nord. Lena for short. Originally from a small town called Nordfjordeid in Norway, she physically represented a true Nordic; tall, fair, and blonde. Personally, she did not represent the coldness of her country by any degree; on the contrary, she was one of the warmest girls I’ve met in Malawi.
I first met her at the parking lot of our office in Lilongwe, where she caught the sight of me in a car and said hi with a smile. Second and next meetings were less brief and impassive. Quickly I started to see her very interesting character.
She’s a persistent hiker. You can ask her to join you for a hike anytime anywhere and I’m sure she’d say yes. I went with her and our friend Jolani to Bunda mountain – or should I say Bunda hill, cos it wasn’t even high :p – and I was completely defeated by their endurance :)))) Well I’m not much of a hiker myself, I don’t hike a lot like they do, while they come from the mountains themselves! (this is just an excuse)
But she also loves going to the lake. Her main purpose was always to get a bit of tan, but unfortunately always a no success and the furthest she could get was always to look ‘salmony’. I didn’t have the heart to tell her the bitter truth that it is probably a mission impossible for her to get tanned – just so that she wouldn’t stop trying! :p
She’s a very fun person as well as a hard worker. She spent many days with children at schools in many districts, having questionnaires filled and interviews done then many nights analyzing them and writing the report. She wouldn’t say yes to work undone and results under her standard.
She’s also a brave girl. As much as I’ve experienced Malawi as a friendly and safe place, until today I still don’t have enough courage to do one thing she had done mentally-effortlessly: hitchhiking. She told me her story of coming from Nkhotakota back to Lilongwe after a weekend at the lake, where she caught two rides from strangers and arrived safely. I tried building my confidence to follow her tips during my own trip from Kande Beach a few weeks later, but I couldn’t build enough. :p I knew the chances of getting bad experience was low, but the idea was still a bit risky for me. I did get a lift with a stranger on another trip from Kande, but he wasn’t that much of a ‘stranger’ since I already had a chat with him before asking for a ride.
Her most admirable character, above all, is her sociability and her ease in making friends. This is probably the most admirable for me because of my being more reserved, which may make new acquaintances take a longer time to consider me a ‘friend’. I always prefer to be a listener, thus my best match in conversations are the really outgoing and outspoken people. But she’s the opposite of me. She always had tons of things to talk about, invitations from new people and trips with another group every other week. Despite her adolescence (she’s 21) :p, she’s great in interacting with people of all ages. For this way of life where we’re trying to live in, where people come and go and ability to get along with new people quickly is needed, I know she’d have no problem.
Last week we had a quick sad goodbye session as she was leaving Malawi for home for good. I felt sad, but I’m sure we will meet again someday. Could be in Norway, Malawi, Indonesia, or somewhere we don’t have a clue about right now. But I know it will be a nice time, by then, to catch up with her about her (future, as of now) Master study and her career in development. I hope we will have that nice chat by the beach under the sun long enough, and I will be able see her tanned – not ‘salmonned’. I know she will be happy. 🙂