Mzuzuzuzuzu

Trip Start Sep 30, 2006
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Trip End Dec 24, 2008


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Flag of Malawi  ,
Friday, September 26, 2008

We get up in the dark and because of a power cut we stumble around packing our bags at 4:30am. After a taxi ride to the bus station we board a bus and roll out of Dar es Salaam at 5:45, first light, on a 12 hour journey towards the border with Malawi.

Its a private bus company so thankfully it only has four stops along the route and the journey is un-eventful. The highlight is driving through a National park and glimpsing a herd of Zebras, like cows in the UK, hanging out chewing the cud. A large group of red-arsed monkeys swing past and we spot some gazelle like creatures hiding in a bush. 

We reach our destination, Mbeya, pronounced (m-beya)  if you are interested, by nightfall crash out in a hostel and are back at the bus station by first light searching for a minibus to the border, 20km away. We are lucky and as soon as we arrive a minibus passes and picks us up. We ask the passengers if the minibus is going to the border, the touts and driver will lie and answer yes to get you on-board, and after questioning four passengers we settle down for a long wait. African minibuses are slow, a typical timetable will read like this: Minibus to border, departure time: Morning & Afternoon. Thats as close as you can get with times. If there was any small print it would also add: Only leaves when people are hanging out from door frames. Its painful to adjust to African timing especially cramped into a child like minibus seat. We learn the meaning of pole pole, Swahili for slowly slowly. Haha

After five hours we pull up at the Malawi border and guys jump on-board to introduce them selves, 'Hi remember me, I change money, don't forget me'. Outside the bus we get surrounded by about twenty guys holding giant fists of Malawi Kwacha, (It would have made a cool photo). The largest Malawi bank note is the 500 Kwacha, a 2 pound note, but most of them had the 50 Kwacha note, a 20p note. I change about 20 pounds of Tanzanian shillings into Kwacha and try to fit a massive bundle of notes in to my pocket as everyone stares on.

Its a seven minute walk to the border and next we have to negotiate the bike boys, they have formed a friendly road block and beg we agree to a seat on the back of their bicycle down to the border. We want some exercise and after repeating no thanks fifty times we soon get some peace.

The border goes smoothly and soon enough we are squeezing six adults, one baby, luggage and a large stereo in to a taxi to the next town, 70km down the road. At Koronga we finds a minibus leaving shortly and jump in to the last stop of the day, Mzuzu.

Along the way we have to stop at police check points every 50km and our shirt-less driver has attracted the attention of a police man. The cop doesn't seem to amused with a semi-naked driver and although they speak in Chicheua, so we don't understand, the other passengers and finding this hilarious. The driver is ordered out and in to the police car and it looks like a fine is in order for him and a long delay for us.

Eventually we get going and pass markets and small fishing villages. There is huge poverty in the North, roughly 70% of Malawians live below the poverty line. The lack of food is evident by the products on offer at the markets, all three of them, tomatoes, red onions and dried smelly fish. 

By 4 we get to Mzuzu, after handing over the carrier bag on my lap full of dried stinky fish, we stop here for the night. The hostel has rooms all named after African countries, we get the last and fittingly the most expensive room, Zimbabwe. In the evening we listen to the BBC world service about the problems faced by the only two black farmers in the UK. They are from Zimbabwe and explain how regularly they are visited and questioned bu the police after reports of black men seen walking in the fields, a rare sight in the UK.

Exciting animal count gets off the ground:
Zebra: 3
Red-arsed monkeys: 5
Something resembling a Gazelle: 2

Cooper Out

Love Dan & Kat  
Slideshow Report as Spam

Comments

paulyb
paulyb on

Malawi-wawi
Hey guys - loving reading your blog. Hope you enjoy Malawi - I spent 3 months there in 1998 and it was great. If you can, make sure you get to: Nkhata Bay (north lake) and Monkey Bay at Cape Maclear (south lake). Great places to hang out and have a dive in the lake. Apparently the Zomba plateau is great but I never made it personally.
Have you drank Chibuku yet?!
Paul

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