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Published: April 28th 2013
Take one ancient flat-bed pick up truck; stuff it with about 30 people, and their luggage; add 4 or 5 large sacks of grain for the nearby villages; make it drive approx 200miles at approx 30k an hour and make it stop every 500 yards to let one person off and 6 more on; let it run out of petrol twice, overheat at least once, and break down alltogether at some stage too; let it do all this in the burning heat of the midday sun and let them overcharge you (cos you're white) just for this whole privilidge.... and that my friends is public transport in Malawi..!!!! Possibly the most beautiful country in Africa but definitely the biggest ball-ache to get around. To be fair, they are in the middle of a petrol crisis - but still, it was more than beyond a joke!!!!
Despite this adversity, we did thoroughly enjoy Malawi. The Lake is an absolute gem, every area we stayed was different and had its own umique atmosphere. The water seemed to change colour and clarity as we moved around, and in some places even had quite a large surf!!! For a lake i think thats pretty rare!
I think that in Malawi - provided you have your own car - is the first place that we would really reccommend someone take a holiday, with a small cove named Cape MacClear being an absolute must. Here i found my ultimate ultimate sunset vista on earth, and possibly the most totally chilled i have felt here in Africa (and that is a testiment as i think the most non chilled i have felt so far was when Captain Fruit tried to threaten us on Zanzibar, and even that only lasted a mere 5 minutes until Maff paid him off and he went skipping off whith a serene "haha i dont even own a machete" smile on his face!) But also, i think that Cape MacClear was so relaxing cos everyone in our backpackers was really high thanks to the ginormous rasta who owned the internet cafe next door whome i swear must have had some direct links with the Cartels!!!! So yeah! everybody go there!!!
It was odd though, because, although Malawi is almost entirely safe, and the people are very peaceful and friendly... it was one of the places that we were most tormented for being white. Namely by the bloody children!!!! I was actually bullied one day - and for the first time in my life felt rendered so utterly utterly helpless that i just had to sit down in the dirt on the side of the road inwardly seething yet serenely reading my book as if nothing was happening!!! Basically, we were walking through a very small, rural and impoverished village trying to find our way down to the lakeside with no map and to have breakfast in a resort we were hoping was actually still there. It was turning into a bit of a treck and i wasn't feeling too great in the heat with my pack (after another hellish pickup truck ride too) so lovely Maff said he would jog ahead just to make sure we were going in the right direction. i stayed on the roadside with the bags. And some kids came by. The usual facisnation "mazungu, mazungu" and pointing and calling over other kids... thats very usual so i just smiled and politely tended to my bags whilst they were laughing etc. but soon a really large crowd had gathered and they were really laughing at me! Now i can speak Swahili enough to get by but in Malawi they dont speak it so i was pretty much communication-less and any gesture i did they just mocked and laughed at. so i started telling them to move on and leave me alone - 'shooing' them - (which does sometimes work) but they found this hillarious so i was litterally surrounded by a huge crowd of kids by this point. Some were running up and poking me and darting back into the crowd, some were mimicking me, some were jokingly babbling at me in their language knowing full well that i couldn't even respond, and some - probably the most annoying - were just open mouthed staring at me... for EVER. i wasn't scared, i knew that they genuinely wouldn't do anything, but i was just totally pissed off at the injustice of it all!!!! I couldn't bring myself to throw stones or hit any of them (which is genuinely what most African adults would have done and sadly, the only way that most kids listen out here) becuase thats just insane, and how much of a jackass would that make me - essentially they are just children! I just had to fumble around for my book, sit down, endure the poking, and wait for maff to come rescue me!!! And when he arrived, confused at the crowd, we picked up our bags and started walking and the kids just all wandered off - game over!!! i was seeeeeeething!!!! i read about 5 chapters of my book and had absolutely no idea what i had read cos i was too busy muttering an internal monologue about double standards and racism and deserving everything they got (this last one i do feel bad about and have promised Jesus i didn't mean) but you can get the point!!!! The one thing i will say, its balls when people say "oh its just that they never see white people, they are just fascinated with you blah blah blah" Thats really a load of crap. As a backpacker and as a volunteer you can't walk 5 minutes without tripping over a member of the peace core or the German Peace movement or a bunch of brits who've done a TEFL course. Its not true that they never see us - we're bloody everywhere!!!!
Anyway! after a really beautiful and arduous trip round Malawi we are now in Zambia. A seriously massive country - its vast! the first few hours bus journey was just endless wilderness and bushland - masses of it! its impossible to do too much here unless you have your own car so we are only really doing Lusaka and Livingstone. Lusaka was a very Westerised City, quite a nice break actaully - if a hell of a lot more expensive!! And the Zambian people are very nice. Football fanatics (most of africa is but Zambians even more so) and poor Maff got a battering during that Man U Villa game! Education here is generally a lot better so its much easier to have conversations with Zambians - they enjoy watching World News!! And here in Livingstone, well.... WE GOT ENGAGED!!!!!!!!!!!!
For all those who didn't know my lovely new fiance asked me to marry him (just like that... "will you marry me?") whilst we were sat cuddling at a viewpoint above the mighty Victoria Falls, under a full moon, whilst a rare lunar rainbow was taking place. it was fantastically magical and a one of a kind moment. i told Maff i would marrry him every day for the rest of time... so save up guys, thats a lot of wedding gifts!!!!
And we've been back to the same spot in the day time to enjoy the falls again. it really is one of the most inspiring places on Earth, truly a beautiful beautiful place to go. and the Baboons!!!! big as dogs and not afraid of humans at all!!!!! i was more scared of them as they sat stubbournly in the middle of the pathway whilst i had to squeeze round them all - maff not waiting for me in my terror coz he had the bag of food and sometimes they will rob you if they think there is fruit inside!!!!! very scary!!
and we also went for a Rhino Walk yesterday. really amazing actually to be walking around the bush (there arn't any lions) and just sort of find them grazing all huge and horned and utterly peaceful. we got really close, it was wonderful.
Well thats me done for a while - i hope that you are all well and are enjoying some better weather. we miss you all lots and are looking forward to partying when we get home!! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
ps, maff says "we always do fun activities when it my mates' birthdays..." xxxxxxxxxx
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