I like to spend time in the garden. On the beach we have about 20 people working, and in the garden we have two: James and Michael. So sometimes it is just nice to escape to the beach. James and Michael happen to speak English quite well, so in the end I actually speak more with them than with the other workers around. Micheal is the one who teaches me the most chichewa words, James asks many questions about the Netherlands.
Yesterday James suddenly asked us whether we havy many rivers in the Netherlands. I suppose we do have a reasonable amount of rivers in the Netherlands, however we Dutch are of course more famous for the tames variant of a river: the canals. After explaining the difference between a river and a canal we had to show a picture of Amsterdam. Immediately James asked whether we have a lot of fish in the canals. We had to think about this for a little bit. I mean, probably some pike and perch, but we already knew what he was thinking..
In Malawi fish is together with nsima (cornmeal porridge) the foundation of a proper meal. Here, it doesn’t matter which of the 850 cyclid species they find in their net (although some fetch a higher price than others), everything they catch will be eaten.
In the Netherlands we do not usually eat fish caugth in the canals. We prefer herring, salmon and tuna, opposed to the local carps, pikes and perches. This information was received with a puzzled expression: ‘So, you do catch them, measure them and then throw them back?’ Well yeah, it does sound a bit strange if it’s formulated like that.
Of course I needed to show some images again to show what herring, salmon and tuna look like. Especially the size of a tuna was unimaginable to James. How would someone ever eat such a huge fish? From there we went on to show pictures of the biggest fish, the whale shark, and the biggest animal on the planet, the blue whale (quick calculations revealed that a blue whale weights as much as 667 cows combined).
He was also curious about the animals that live on Dutch soil, but on that topic we did not get very far. I told him the biggest animal we have is probably a cow. James asked: ‘no elephants?’ Well, the Netherlands are in that regard not as exciting as Africa…