Day 311: Attracting Attention

Thur. 20th June 2013

We attract attention wherever we goThis morning our first stop was the second Acacia truck in camp as we had been invited for a cup of proper Malawian coffee by Kelly the tour leader. She was having a quiet section on her trip from Dar to Livingstone with only two tourists on her truck. We spent an interesting time talking with her last night about Africa, especially Namibia, which is our favourite African country so far. There is so much more to see in Namibia than was on our Nomad trip – and what we did see was stunning.

Rubber ball anyone?Leaving Kande Beach this morning the truck is very quiet as many are recovering from the local spirits imbibed last night. We head through the rubber plantations which remind us of Borneo where we tried our hand at cutting the trees to release the rubber. When we stop a local appears and gives a quick explanation before his mates arrive to sell rubber footballs. The principle in both countries appears similar and we can identify with the cuts in the bark and the pots to collect the drips of rubber. We also pass through coffee plantations where the bushes are covered with coffee beans.

Coffee stopWe are all excited at the prospect of a coffee shop in Mzuzu selling proper coffee, probably more than the prospect of free Wi-Fi. As this is Africa neither live up to western standards. It was plunger coffee which is better than our usual instant Ricoffee but not as good as Kelly’s this morning. As for the Wi-Fi, we all sat constantly plugging in the password but unable to connect.

Enterprising taxi-cyclistsHaving soon got bored of this we headed to investigate the shops but the shelves were sparse. On checking the booze, the wine was twice the price of the local spirits and the consensus was the Malawi rum was better than the gin and vodka, albeit not by much. Remembering our Cuba Libres so many months ago in Cuba we handed over our fiver and hoped for the best! There are few taxis around and the locals seem to prefer these pedalpower taxis.

Scramble to buy clothesMzuzu is the third largest town in Malawi and was a sprawl of the now familiar small stalls and shacks as well as a few bigger buildings, usually banks or a few larger shops. After our stop we headed to a different part of town where there were many, many small stalls selling mainly clothes. We had put all our names in a hat and drawn out a name at random and we now needed to buy an outfit for them to wear tonight. As soon as the truck stopped we were surrounded by men with big packs of clothes for us to select the most outlandish we could. The locals also paused their daily lives to stop and watch us.

Views on the roadAs we headed out of town there was excited chatter over the costumes selected. Given some of the scanty outfits some have bought we wonder what we will be wearing. This trip is certainly more geared for the younger clientele and we know we are well over the usual age bracket, but it is fun to be included in activities we used to do at their age.

View of Mount ChombeThe r0ad heads on and over the mountains and many eyes turn to watch our truck pass by. All the children we pass wave and a group even headed down the hill by the road to watch us go by. We reach Chitimba beach late afternoon in time to have a quick walk along the beach. As we are here for two nights we decide to upgrade to a room with shared facilities for $10 a night per room. It is a square box with two beds and a light which gives us a bit more space than the tent to spread out and have a bolthole for the full day we are here.

Locals on the beachIt was decided to postpone the dressing up to tomorrow as a few wanted a quiet night. We did not object as  a few of us have an early start tomorrow to walk to Livingstonia, which will be a good 8 to 10 hours walk and we want to do the uphill walk there before it gets too hot. This will be good practice for Dave’s Kili climb. It will be interesting heading out without a guide to see whether we attract as much attention walking as we do in the truck.

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