Lake Malawi and Scuba Diving
Trip Start Aug 09, 2005
67Trip End Aug 09, 2006
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Where I stayed
The next evening we boarded the train ... but first we watched and waited patiently in the station foyer as a stampeding crowd of upwards of 1000 people pushed and shoved their way through two small turnstile gates while the ticket collector yelled in vain at them "Polè Polè" which means slowly slowly in Swahili! About an hour later the stamped had subsided and we decided it was time to make our way to the train compartment. As the train pulled out of the station we watched in disbelieve and bewilderment as the passengers in the compartment next to us ran alongside the train, climbed in the window and then proceeded to have all their baggage passed to them (everything including the kitchen sink!) through the window. We're not sure if they got everything in, but as the train picked up speed the porters started running faster, yelling at the passengers, suddenly a flurry of Tanzanian shilling notes danced about the air and the porters grabbed and jumped at them seemingly not concerned by the fast moving train beside them or showing any fear of falling under it while attempting to catch the money! That was to be the high point of the train ride for that day as the rest of the journey was through the night
About an hour from Mbeya the train came to a halt and we sat on the tracks in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, but within 10 minutes a whole village load of locals had crested a nearby hill and were running frantically towards the train to get there first and sell their goods. They needn't have hurried we weren't going anywhere and there were plenty of hungry people on board! We bought and ate our fill of goods and as there was still no sign of the train moving so we decided to entertain some of the local children by blowing up balloons and letting them float out the carriage window. It was good fun and we were rewarded with many smiles ... luckily the train started to moving again before word got back to the other village children as we were fast running out of balloons!!! We eventually pulled into Mbeya about 2 hours later than scheduled. Not much in the town, it was serving as a jumping off point for us to travel on to Malawi. We shared a cab with another couple who were heading the same direction (Hallo Leonie and Brian) found a place to stay ... with a television so that we could watch some world cup games ... really there was nothing else to do except have a few beers, watch football, and get ready for the bus journey the following day to the Malawi border!
The next morning we set off for the 'bus station' to find the bus that went to Mbeya ... after about a 2 hour ordeal, which involved Kevin and Brian having words with a local police officer to help us get our money back ... we eventually switched mini buses and were finally making tracks to the Malawi border. No problems entering Malawi apart from some money changing swindlers who were trying hard to earn some extra bucks off us! We opted to hire a cab between the 4 of us instead of waiting for another minibus to take us a further ½ hour down the road to a town called Karonga where we would spend the night and surprisingly drink more beer and watch more football which was fast becoming the traditional evening pastime for Kevin, Leonie, Brian and Trish during our stay in Malawi!
Nkhata Bay is a small village but is a popular and lively spot. We had heard about it during our travels and had also learned that it was a great place to learn to Scuba dive, as there was a great school there. On our first night at Mayoka we got to chatting with a friendly wee lad called Pete who was working at the scuba school (Aqua Africa) and after a long session we were hooked and went to the office the next day to join up for classes. So over the course of 2 weeks we did the Open Water training for Scuba Diving and loved it so much we went on to do the Advanced Scuba course as well (after another session with Pete he again convinced us to do another course ... yet he swears he didn't make any commission ... right Pete?!?). What with being in school almost every day, all day, our priorities were changed and the beer drinking stopped ... but we still watched the football!
So we left Malawi as qualified divers (Thanks Dusty & Andy) which is fantastic and we're very excited as our next stop is a place called Tofo in Mozambique where we plan to spend a week by the Indian Ocean hopefully spending time on the beach and also do the first of many Ocean dives at beautiful coral reefs ... the downside is that during the past 2 weeks we never got to venture further than Nkhata Bay so Malawi is still an unknown country to us. But we had some fun times in Nkhata Bay and met some great people, and as our travels wind down theirs are just getting underway, and although we're jealous we wish happy travels and safe journeys to Leonie, Brian, Pete, Stuart and Vicky.
Next stop Tofo, Mozambique, then onto South Africa for the final weeks of our Round the World Trip!