Ride Overland With Kanchan & Nick

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November 28, 2012

Mozambique – Malawi: Mozambique Pit Stop and the Lure of Lake Malawi!

Mozambique was a short affair. In terms of scenery there wasn’t much in north Mozambique. It was dry and pretty poor. We passed village after village of mud houses and bags full of coal to sell lined up on the road.  As with most of the other countries, you had the occasional crowd surrounding the water pump with plastic Jerry cans lined up for their turn.  We decided to stop and grab a soda. We were immediately hounded by people asking questions in Portuguese.  Only knowing a few basics and employing whatever Spanish I know, as well as our version of sign language, we were able to communicate. Most of the countries in Africa that we had visited so far did not pose much of a problem language wise until now! We decided to make our night halt in a big town along the Zambezi River called Tete.  Two old friends made a reappearance in Moz…the small motorbikes and samosas.  Both Indian imports apparently since Bajaj and TVS seem to be pretty popular and samosas were brought by Indian traders.  After sifting through crazy expensive accommodation, we found a campsite along the river where there didn’t seem to be anyone taking care.  Eventually we found that the man of the family was drunk and knocked out, while the wife greeted us with babies in tow.  Ah the plight of women continues in the world.  The beaches in Mozambique are supposed to be pretty nice and the flavor of the region completely different from other countries in southern Africa but route wise, it wasn’t making sense for us to go to the coast.  And long stretches of nothing on shit roads to get to a beach that might just be so-so was not tempting, so we pushed on to Malawi.  One thing there is plenty of in Mozambique are mango trees!  they are neverending…and the trees are huge and just loaded with mangos. Everyone’s eating them or sucking on a mango pit!

Malawi was a continuation of Mozambique in terms of scenery…mud house villages and coal tied up in bundles for sale.  The border crossing was nothing too crazy except that they gave Nick a visa valid only for 7 days and me a 30 day visa…go figure.  They wouldn’t change it either!  We decided  to head towards Lilongwe.  It had been a long time since we had a wheat roti…all this time since South Africa we have been carrying rice and pasta and cooking that.  the taste of a roti,the texture and the motions of tearing a bite with a few fingers of one hand is something that you miss over time.  I remember when my brother and I were little, we’d whine…”Roti…??? Again???” The things you take for granted in your life!  We found Indian food that was somewhat decent,  definitely not what we were looking for…we wanted the stuff that tasted like a mother made it.  That would have to wait!  We ended up camping out at the Lilongwe Golf Club…random I know!  But they were really nice and had a complete camping set-up.  From Lilongwe we wanted to hit Lake Malawi.  We took an inside road from the main ‘highway’ that was supposed to be along the lake.  We could see the lake from a distance and it seriously looked like the ocean.  Many of the villages were small, Muslim ones so the vibe reminded us of traveling through southern Thailand and Indonesia.  On a whim we took a small dirt road down towards the lake after seeing a badly painted sign for a guest house in the Chinteche (New London Guest House or something!) We found the guest house to be fine, cheap, and including breakfast (reminiscent of the Asia days)!  There was a gorgeous white sand beach with traditional wooden boats strewn about.  We had originally wanted to go to Nkhata Bay but after making this last minute stop, we felt satisfied after seeing this part of the lake.  We decided just to make a quick stop to see what the fuss is all about in Nkhata Bay.  Stopping by at Mayoka Village guest house, we were shocked by the view! The lull of the turquoise waters fringed by lush mango trees and beautifully constructed and fitted bandas (chalet-hut type of rooms) convinced us to stay one more night along the immense lake.  This hadn’t happened in a really long time…an impulse stay!  the place is really ecofriendly…compost toilets etc.  Problem is the water was shut off.  Whenever we take a day off we try to get some stuff done like laundry etc.  No water meant that we ended up washing our clothes in the lake which ended up being fun 🙂  Nick also had to take a bath in the lake as well…fun times!  We stayed one more night in Chitimba before we pushed out of Malawi.  Some people ask us if Lake Malawi is really worth it.  I would say if you find yourself in the area, it’s a nice place to stop by.   It’s really chill, you can still find good deals, and the water really is beautiful…but if you have to really struggle to get there visa wise or transportation wise…maybe not.   Malawi is known for friendly people and that holds true.  Actually to be honest people in Africa have been great.  You get some lazy, jerk-ish people at the borders but people are generally very polite.  So far we haven’t felt like we’re being majorly scammed or taken for a ride like you do in Asia.

But as we move up…I’ve heard things will change.  In the meantime…so long southern Africa…on to East Africa!

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