REVISED-Malawi Continued, Blantyre to Karonga


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Africa » Malawi » Northern » Karonga
December 16th 2009
Published: December 16th 2009
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Kids fishing from dug out canoes on lake malawi
REVISED WITH A FEW PICS!

Hello All;
Well we had a thankfully uneventful, if not quite comfortable, trip back to Blantyre. Mini-buses the whole way. I think we had to change 4 times. One more night in Blantyre, we actually managed to get tickets on the luxury, overnight, bus leaving the next afternoon at 4:30 pm to Mzuzu. We were all excited. These buses are really nice. Comfortable airline style seats, AC, curtains on the windows, etc. Well our excitement didn't last to long into the trip. After we got on there were only about 10 passengers on board. Then we stopped at 3 more bus stations and the seats filled up. That was fine. Then he just kept stopping and more and more people got on board. We actually ended up with 65 seated passengers and 45 passengers that stood in the aisle. That doesn't sound like such a big deal, but this was a 15 hour bus trip. These people paid the same price for a ticket that the seated passengers paid and they had to stand for 15 hours! Aaron was getting really frustrated because the aisle was so packed that they were crowding him to where
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Now that's what I call a bass guitar!! Don't jealous Wyatt!
he had to lean into me the whole trip. But, how do you complain to someone that you're being crowded when they have to stand for 15 hours. Crazy. The bus had to stop 3 times during the night at roadblocks, we all had to get off the bus, the police go through the bus and look in the storage compartment underneath and check any bags that might be big enough to have a child stuffed inside. They're really cracking down on child trafficking and slavery. I'll give you more details if you ask for them, otherwise I'll keep the grim stuff out of this entry. But it is completely mind blowing.
Anyway, after our 15 hours on the bus, then we had one more hour on a mini-bus taxi, and then we finally arrived in Nkhata Bay. Completely worn out, thirsty, and hungry. There are no food or potty breaks on the bus. We spent our first night at a local backpackers right in Nkhata Bay. It was completely ant infested so I was glad for only one night there. I hiked up to the front desk and told the guy that our bed was covered with little black
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Our chalet at Njaya Lodge, Nkhata Bay (paradise)
ants, so he handed me a container of powder called "Blue Death". He said "hold your breath and shake this all around, then leave for 2 hours." So that's what we did, it seemed to do the trick.
Aaron couldn't believe how much Nkhata Bay had changed since he was last here. It has really grown, alot. They have a very lively market, main street area, bank with ATM, and quite a few restaurants. Unfortunately Malawi is not known for thier cuisine and every place serves exactly the same thing. Being such a poor country they haven't quite made the mental transition of eating for sustanance only, to eating something enjoyable and flavorful. But everyplace was able to turn out a pretty decent omelette. I stuck to the omelette, if you order chicken they boil it first, then the stick it in a pot of hot oil. It's like leather, but at least you know it's safe to eat. We couldn't get our hands on a piece of fresh fruit anywhere, but lots of tomatos & onions & cabbage salad.
The next day we headed out of town a little way to a place called Njaya Lodge. It was so
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Umm, Aaron isn't looking too good!
nice and laid back there. We had a great little reed chalet with deck right on the water. It was so cool because Aaron stayed here 15 years ago and two of the guys that were working there then are still there as managers. Dickson and Gilbert, they were so great, and thought it was really neat that Aaron remembered them. Aaron remembered alot of the guys that had worked there and unbelieveably they were all dead. Average age to live to in Malawi is 50. There are some older folks there but I didn't see more than 10 people that looked over 70 the entire time we were in Malawi.
We did a ton of swimming & snorkelling here and just relaxing. It was so hard to get here. I've been putting on 80 SPF sunscreen 2 and 3 times a day and I'm just getting darker and darker and darker. I finally started swimming only in the mornings and staying in the shade from noon on. Malawians are so friendly and they all ask where we're from and when we say America they all say "Obama Land, how wonderful. How lucky you are to have such a great
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Nkhata Bay Art
man for your president." It's not just Malawi either, all of Africa seems to love Obama. Here in Malawi you can buy purses, shirts, shorts with Obama's picture and name on them, we bought some strawberry Obama bubblegum and they also sell Obama Yes We Candy! To cool.
We had 3 nights at Njaya Lodge and Aaron got pretty sick so we headed back into Nkhata Bay so he could go to the private clinic. Not many can afford the private clinic so there were only 6 people ahead of us. The doctor was really great, went to medical school in the US. Aaron had his office visit, 2 types of Malaria tests, lab work, and 2 prescriptions filled for $8.00! But amazingly almost no one local can afford that. We knew he didn't have Malaria because we're taking a preventative, the Dr. diagnosed food poisoning. I'm not surprised. 2 more nights resting up in town and then on to Chitemba. We were lucky and got a shared taxi in a comfortable Nissan stationwagon to Mzuzu, then a nice new mini-bus taxi on to Chitemba. We spent 4 nights here, had a nice lakeview room. It's really hot here compared
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Nkhata Bay Art
to Nkhata Bay. The lodge is really nice, the food is terrible! Malawi just doesn't have good food. Most of the time we were here Aaron was just trying to feel better.
After leaving Chitemba Lodge we hiked up to the road and caught a mini-bus taxi to Karonga where we stayed one night before heading for the border. The taxi dropped us about a mile from the place we were staying the night. Nice walk over though. Some of things we've seen. Everybody here rides a bicycle, but today there was a man riding his bike with a coffin strapped to the little seat on the back of the bike. Coffins here are about a third the size of ones in the US, just a pine box, wider at the shoulders and narrowing down to the feet. The mortality rate is so high here, there are coffin makers and tombstone makers on every block, I'd just never seen one being delivered by bicycle and it kind of threw me off.
Nice room with the best thing ever, air-conditioning! Terrible food.
I've seen alot of amazing things and disturbing things here in Malawi. It's a really poor country and even
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Nkhata Bay Art
with all the aid that comes in here nothing can really prepare you for the terrible poverty, disease, street orphans, slavery, witch doctors, they have it all! Including some of the most welcoming people we've met on our trip. Next stop, the border into Tanzania!
Let us hear from you and what's happening in your neck of the woods. We really love getting your messages.
Til Next Time,
Carolyn & Aaron


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Typical Malawi street scene
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Wow, that looks really heavy!


17th December 2009

Christmas
Hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas. Carolyn, got an invitation to our 30 year class reunion. Will be held on Fourth of July weekend 2010. Just thought I'd let you know in case you hadn't heard. Let me know if you need anymore information on it. Terri

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