Well, my colleagues finally made it from the South and they arrived this morning. It's so lovely to see them - even though we only knew each other for under two weeks, it was just like reuniting with old friends.
After catching up we sat down over some tea and drinks to discuss the fieldwork ahead. We had some very fruitful discussions (and quite a few laughs) and resolved all remaining issues regarding selection of villages, farmers and logistics. We decided we would need to be in Lilongwe for up to two weeks and so I would try and find somewhere in Lilongwe centre that was affordable for that time. After coming up with a list and getting ready to go, it turned out my colleague knew the owner of the lodge (who also happened to be there up from the South). It was agreed that there could be some arrangement if I would stay for a week or more, but I needed to consult and update my budget. By the time we had driven to the first nearby lodge to check it out I had worked out I could afford to stay in the original place and so I am absolutely over the moon right now. I am here, in this fantastic lodge, with such lovely staff (I said it was sad to be leaving) and now I've been reunited with friends. Definitely one of the highlights of my stay so far.
So, now I am back in the lodge (in the adjacent room) enjoying a lazy Sunday with just a few tasks to do before I try to meet with a Ministry of Agriculture worker tomorrow. Life is good! :)