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Published: December 13th 2010
DEDZA to NGALA
This time I am writing about a day travelling! On Wed. 8th Dec after a couple more days in Dedza where we climbed half way up Dedza mountain, visited the famous pottery, and enjoyed much cooler temperatures while putting up with quita a bit of rain, we set off for a long journey aiming to reach Chinteche again.
We got a bus quite quickly from Dedza bus station and we had a comfortable enough, standing room only, ride to Lilongwe. Travelling through the hills we saw so many more people out in the "fields" planting. We saw a long line of people outside one Farmer's co-op type store queueing for maize seed...... the government are providing subsidies for seed and fertilizer at this time. But I think from newspaper reports that distribution has been difficult in some places.
In Lilongwe we transfer straight away onto a big bus to Chinteche but we waited nearly an hour before the bus pulled out of the station. This time there is sitting room! in the aisle on the pull out seats attached to the fixed seats. Needless to say, luggage all around...... It's a strange sensation sitting in rows right across the bus with no gaps anywhere! But more comfy than standing. There's a loud discussion about the luggage situation, then a quiet spell as a woman
says a prayer and everyone says Amen. The person in front of me is perched at a precarious angle as his seat is on the slant with luggage piled underneath. The back of the seat is at an acute angle so he can't lean back and then my rucksack lands on his lap as we negotiate a corner. We take ages to get out of Lilongwe as we have to refuel and the traffic seems slow and heavy.
When doing these long journeys it is as well to keep drinking to a minimum as it can be all day until there is an opportunity to pee! I manage that really well today!
It's also just as well to appreciate the good moments that happen and enjoy them because travelling is very tiring and you really need all the patient genes in your body to be operating. Our high spot of the journey was meeting Margaretta, Suzanna and Jonathan. Derek and I had managed to move into proper seats toward the back of the bus. Margaretta and Suzanna were on the back seat of the bus and I became aware of much giggling and mimicking "yah" at us
mzungu in front of them. It was like being on the back seat of a bus anywhere back home with someone like Debbie (my niece) or Sioned (from our village in Wales!) taking the mickey in a harmless, loud, cheeky way! I made a conection with them pretty quickly and Jonathan, their older brother introduced himself...... another bright eyed, smiling, switched on part of this family. He talked to us quite a bit until Derek lent him the MP3 player. He was really taken with MIcheal Franti and settled into listening to all the Michael Franti music..... singing along and replaying for hours!
We pulled into Dwangwa as it was getting dark and everybody still travelling the bus got off. Jonathan explained that the driver wasn't prepared to go any further. There were only 4 of us and he wanted to go back to Lilongwe. So in the dark, with "fairy flies" swarming all around we were dumped on the side of the road in a very busy, jostling crowd of people, ghetto blasters blaring...... I found out that the crowd were gathering to buy cheap fish rather than waiting for busses. Jonathan stayed with us to try and organise transport but we weren't prepared to pay the kind of kwatcha wanted for a 50 mile exclusive taxi. We decided to hitch and eventually got a lift with a south african family to Ngala...... about 10 miles up the road and where we could get accommodation for the night...... arrived there at about 9pm. And therein lies another story which I won't go into now!
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