Published: September 24th 2008September 12th 2008
Our journey to Zomba was not without adventure. We filled a small pickup truck with the three of us, a driver, Zenaida our representative from Zomba Mental Hospital, Thomas the HR manager and a policeman who had spent a few days in Lilongwe following up a case. All our oversized western baggage filled up the back and we had small bags on our laps. We made our way to the VSO Lilongwe guesthouse in order to pick up equipment for the house. After some discussion three double mattresses and a fridge freezer were added to the back and we all squoze back into the truck and went on a journey to try and find a rope to tie down the load. After trying several places stopping and starting our journey; we finally located a rope and we discovered at that point that an extra person was squashed on top.
We finally left Lilongwe around 3pm and began an uncomfortable 4 ½ hour journey down the Blantyre road towards Zomba. Despite being overloaded to the point that it was uncomfortable to breath and impossible to move, we stopped at number of road side markets to buy fruit and vegetables. At one stop
on the road which creates the border =between Malawi and Mozambique; my bladder was close to bursting and believing it impossible to get to Zomba without braving what toilet facilities may be available on route I asked Zenaida where it would be possible to go. She asked around and was direct behind some shops and dwellings on the opposite side of the road. There appeared to be a latrine and a litter strewn area dotted with scrub. She headed off into the scrub and considering the dark void of the latrine I opted to follow suit. The three of us split up trying to find a bush large enough to shield at least a little of our dignity; without success. It was a slightly disconcerting experience having a pee in full view of a local family some chickens and two colleagues; however... needs, must. On our return Steph was scraping something off her shoe which we both hoped against hope was not of human origin; thinking that a bad journey could potentially suddenly become malodorously worse.
It was dark by the time we arrived in Matawali, the ‘suburb’ of Zomba which is now our home. Thomas and his colleagues have
found us a huge home which on first impressions is wonderful and far more than we need. It is almost completely empty though and has proved less desirable than our VSO colleagues along the road; who have a smaller but pleasantly furnished home with a nice little garden. They have the advantage of volunteers having been resident there for a number of years and furnished bit by bit over time. I have a huge bedroom with an en suite; although all the rooms are large; the other two felt they would prefer the smaller ones; but I have always had a secret desire for a large space of my own…so we were all happy. It was late and we had no food; but just as we were pooling our stash of left over nuts and chocolate; a couple of people turned up from the hospital with sheets and blankets and a ‘take away’ which consisted of knuckles of unidentifiable meat; some chips and a little salad in clingwrap. We were grateful for them thinking of giving us something since we hadn’t eaten since 11am.
Not knowing the etiquette of the night guard, Vincent assured us that he should spend the
evening and night seated in our oversized living room; where he could hear anyone trying to enter the gate. Hence we were confined o the dining room discussing whether our discomfort with the arrangement was related to white guilt. Gareth was concerned about him having nothing to do but sit; and offered him some reading material; he gave him Of Sprits and Madness; an American psychiatrist in Africa and a copy of The Economist; which Steph and I found highly amusing.