Cape McClear – Monkey Bay – Salima – Lilongwe

15 Feb

Still undecided on which country to go to next, I head to Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. The road right up to the capital is as quiet as ever. Long sections reminded me of Kruger National Park, South Africa – decent tarmac, empty and flat uninhabited land and birds everywhere. The lilac breasted rollers, spotted eagles, triangular headed noggins and agile double tailfeathered penguins (along with plenty that I didn’t recognise) zipped and walked around the road for miles on end.

Where there were huts, I crept by, but was rarely unnoticed. ‘Give me money’ is the most common shout and one that I’ve ignored throughout. I respond to every other greeting*, inquiry and cheeky shout**, but I haven’t got a good response to this one apart from mock outrage. Whichever caucasians went to every tiny village in Malawi and handed out money to every man, woman and child, if I find them, I’ve got one thing to say, and one thing only – give me money!

I rode past a village a little off the road and nobody saw me. In the quiet I head some electronica music coming from the bush. Wierd enough, so I turned around and left the road to investigate. I found a small path and followed the synth. Two men were sat outside their hut with a cassette player and 2 tapes. Once we’d got over the initial confusion caused by my apparition and interest in their tapes, we talked a bit and I found out the music is Zimbabwean.

Entering the busy capital, with it’s traffic, overpriced supermarkets, hotels, tourism operators and boutiques (term used relatively) and I’m already planning on making the most of the conveniences (i.e. food), and planning my exit strategy. Malawi, then where?

Future routes in consideration –

Zambia, Zimbabwe (find the electronica musician Alick Machesmo), Jo’berg.
Or, Zambia, Botswana, S.A.
Or, Mozambique, Swaziland, Jo’berg.
Would like to fit in a week or 2 on the garden route before I leave, and try to sell the bike in Cape Town.
Running out of time! Would rather stay in Africa longer than do the European leg. Fixed flight means this isn’t an option.

*Top greetings I’ve received on the road (always followed with ‘how are you?’, ‘where you going?’, ‘what’s your name?’, ‘where you from?’, or ‘give me…bag/money etc.):
– Azungu! (Often chanted victoriously, my particular favourite)
– Thumbs up (South Malawians are a bit more gangster – thumb goes horizontally)
– Hello Madam
– Hello Big Man
– Yes
– Hello Mr Man
– Hello Friend
– Hello White Man
– Hello Visitor

**I’m usually the first to shout friendly greetings when I’m approaching someone or a group of guys with a machete, hoe, sythe, mean looking face etc. Usually they break out with great and warm responses. Other times they just look back, probably too knackered from farming to bother responding. Let me be clear though, at risk of a generalisation, Malawians are all friendlier and more welcoming than Father Christmas’ life coach.


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