What a day! Things started out pretty good…breakfast in the courtyard was nice, we were able to access the Internet. Allabi was there promptly at 9am to pick us up, but unfortunately we weren’t quite ready to go yet…after days without email access, Dwight had to do some work correspondence and unfortunately we kept Allabi waiting about 20 mins. We had to make a stop to change some USD into Kwachas for the trip up north, but when we arrived we found the Forex Bureau closed…apparently yesterday, all of them were closed down by the banks because of some alignment agreement that wasn’t fulfilled. Near the Forex Bureau is a CD store that Dwight’s been trying to go to since we got here but their hours are limited and we keep missing it. So while I ran in to get some bottled water at the grocery store, he went into the CD store to see if he could find the coveted ‘Freedom’ CD by Lucious Banda. Yay, they had it but it took a little longer than Dwight had hoped. Traffic was insane in Lilongwe this morning…seriously, and it took ages to get to the office. We finally arrived there around 10:15am. So you see where things are going here.
For some reason we thought the ride up north to Nhkatabay was about three hours so when we learned it was more like five hours, I started to get antsy, knowing it gets dark so early here. And I knew we still had to stop to exchange money (at a bank) and get a SIM CARD for the cell phone. Meetings at the office, busy bank, difficulty getting a Zain SIM card due to system issues, more traffic, yada yada yada…we didn’t get on the road til 2pm. Gets dark at 6pm. 2pm plus 5 hours equals DARK!
Let me preface this by saying the ride was beautiful…Malawi is very picturesque…until the sun went down, then it was kind of scary…and dark. The same people I enjoyed seeing walking along the highway during the day, made me nervous at night because it was dark and I worried they may step into the road. And there were lots of big trucks. Allabi is a cautious, experienced driver so I knew we were in good hands, but because it was dark, and the roads are windy, I couldn’t help but worry. Did I mention it was dark?
We had a funny experience when we made a stop for some juice along the way at Nkhotakota. While the guys were inside the store, I stepped out front. Coming toward the store was an inebriated older man with a loud booming voice. I couldn’t make out what he was saying but people around were kind of laughing so I figured he probably wasn’t dangerous. Then he spotted me and starting calling out to me that I was welcome in Malawi. When Dwight came out and the man spotted him he started apologizing, I guess for taking to me, and Dwight assured him there was no offence taken. He asked where we were from and when we told him Canada, he said “Ah Canada, I love Canada, they are all Christians there…welcome, welcome.” Ha ha.
As it turns out we were booked to stay at a hotel in Nkhatabay quite a bit beyond (almost an hour) the projects we’ll be visiting around Chinteche. The view appears to be spectacular…we’ll know in the morning…yet the rate is reasonable, so I think that combo is why we were booked there. However, we’ve already decided to spend the next two nights closer in and forego the view because the extra drive is too much. And, the last few kilometres to the hotel, which is right by the water are crazy bumpy. Allabi and Joseph, who are travelling with us, are staying at a different place right in Nkhatabay tonight. We felt bad that they had to drive that bumpy road again tonight and back again in the morning to get us. I think moving to Chinteche will be good for all of us.
We didn’t get into our room til about 8:30pm…totally pooped and hungry. Fortunately they still offered us dinner, which by the way, was excellent. Finally, traditional Malawian fare…chicken stew with some kind of greens and nsema (which is like the posho we had in Uganda). On the way to the dining room, we met one of the “night watchmen”, and older gent named Samuel, Who assured us “Do not be scared. I’m here all night.” I wasn’t til he said that!! Samuel was stationed in a chair on the deck one hut over from ours. Yes, the rooms were round huts with thatched roofs and are situated on the side of a hill overlooking Lake Malawi. The place has a really an interesting layout. We asked Samuel how many other guests there were tonight and I think he said there were only one or two others.
Back to dinner…It looked like it was just going to be us at dinner but then a young man walked in around the same time. After exchanging hellos and some chit chat we invited him to join us. Turns out he is a new doctor in the clinic Nkathabay, stationed there for a year. He’s from Blantyre in southern Malawi…really nice guy. His name is Kumbo (not sure of the spelling). He had gotten in late because he had gone out to a village today to investigate a cluster of five deaths from an undetermined cause. He didn’t find the answer today…more time is needed.
So, now we are back in our room…or rather our hut, and as I write this, I am hearing a lot of howling in the near distance…dogs? wolves? I’m pretty pooped and we have an early start tomorrow.
Posted in Africa 2009 |