I love Malawi landscapes, I feel so free there.
“Today we are crossing the Zambian border into Malawi. We are very excited to be finally getting to Malawi but also little nervous about the border crossing but going on the experience of the last two crossings we’re not too bothered.”
The trucks woke us up with their comings and goings on the road just outside our window so we set off really early. It was a new day and I felt hopeful again as we headed for Malawi. My ‘explorer-nature’ was alive and well again. Travel was peaceful and we were not in a hurry to get to our destination. Considering what had happened the day before Derek drove extra carefully and so my anxiety had settled. At the time I probably didn’t really appreciate what he had to put up with regarding my anxiety. I am sure it had been an unpleasant day for him too.
What I like about traveling is that it feels amazing to be a foreigner in a country, observing all the different ways of doing things. Mostly we saw people riding bicycles transporting people; 4 to 6 bags of coal; bags of yams; sugar cane, looking like cats whiskers as they stuck out either side of the bicycles; bales of thatch; reed mats; wood; 2 to 4 Gerry cans of water; sacks of maize; goats; chickens; etc., etc. As we passed them I thought about how fit everybody must be transporting goods like that.
Malawi border crossing.
Once we arrived at the Malawi border-crossing the ‘fun’ began. We had not realized that there wasn’t an official office for money exchange, instead there were lots of guys trying to ‘help’ us in the parking lot: they were money changers.
They hung around the windows of our vehicle trying to haggle with Derek. Derek felt stressed because he didn’t know what the current exchange rate was. Up until now we had known that the rand/ dollar in Namibia was 1:1 and when we had crossed into Zambia there was official money exchange office but here we were exchanging Malawian Kwachas for Zambian Kwachas, which were different. We had not realized we needed to know beforehand what the exchange was and Derek was not coping with the pressurized situation.
I got out the car; I was thinking that I am accustomed to communicating with my gardener who is Malawian and doesn’t speak English well, so I asked, ‘do you speak English?’ ‘Yes’ one of them said. I went on to explain, ‘I want to let you know that my husband is asking his ‘brother’ for the rate of exchange and waiting for an answer. It might take a long time for the answer so please wait and we will call you when we are ready.’ The man agreed and communicated with his ‘brothers’ to wait in the shade. Eventually Derek ready and we traded with the leader of the group. Naturally we had to negotiate a deal as the rate Derek had been given wasn’t the rate asked for. It was quite an experience.
After we crossed the border the roads were well maintained and the speed limit is 80km. The countryside was much more open so we could see mountain ranges. I was enjoying the trip again.
Our campsite, which was recommended to us, was Lilongwe golf club camping facilities. The sun was sinking and we took it gingerly, mostly because of our previous day’s experience; we were not as naive about what we were getting.
It was old and had a woefully derelict look about it with ‘yesterday’s splendor’ but at least it was well cared for and clean. We had food, water, power and clean bathrooms; what more did we need? We needed a new sim for our laptop but we had not been able to obtain one yet hence no email, Facebook and Skype. It made for a very peaceful evening for us, although I am sure my family was wondering how things were going after the last phone call back home.
We were aiming for Lake Malawi, Monkey Bay the next day. We spent ten days travelling and camping around Lake Malawi. It was one of the most unforgettable times of my life. I will tell you why in a few weeks time.
Next week we will take a break from the African Road Trip, and instead, I have a surprise destination for you. Let me know in the comments where you think the destination is. I will give you a hint: it is world famous for its pop culture, especially music.
If you want to know more about our first part of the journey through the Northern Cape before we left South Africa you can find all the link here:
Scenes of the North Western Cape, en-route.
Here is where you can find all the links for the tip through Namibia
An African Road Trip: Namibia 2013