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Week 64: Returning to Malawi

I started the week thinking I had a good plan, I would sell my bike in Stone Town, go to Dar es Salaam, sort out the paperwork for the sale of the bike, then get a bus from Dar es Salaam to Lilongwe. I had moved out of the school house and was staying in the hotel at the beach, I spent Monday and Tuesday waiting for the buyer of my motorbike to arrange a time for us to meet. Then on Tuesday night he called and dropped his price, also adding that he couldn’t buy it for another week. Obviously this wasn’t going to work, so after feeling quite stressed for a few hours, I decided that I would take the motorbike to Malawi with me.

This wasn’t as simple as it sounds, I had let my temporary importation documents get out of date because I was trying to sell the bike and would sort out the paperwork after the sale. So on Wednesday I got a lift into Stone Town, dropped my bags in a hotel and went to the Tanzania Revenue Authority Head Office. I went in and spoke to the Manager, told him about my trip, showed him my website and explained I needed to renew my document. He was really friendly and once I had paid $25 he wrote that the document had been extended and put this stamp on it. From there I went back to the hotel and managed to arrange for the bike to go straight onto a cargo ship headed to Dar es Salaam that afternoon. By the time this was sorted out I had missed the fast boats to Dar, leaving only the slow (over night) boat. So I got that boat and slept on the chairs, I guess it saved me a night in a hotel.

I arrived in Dar es Salaam at 6am and went to the YMCA to check in before heading back to the port for 8am to get my bike. This actually ended up taking two hours, I spent most of that time sat watching the crane damage every car they lifted off the boat. Once I got my bike out of the port I went back to the YMCA and spent the day sleeping, going down to the cafe for cheap meals.

On Thursday I drove 515 miles from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya, this took 11 hours and once I arrived in Mbeya it took around 2 hours to find suitable accommodation. I ended up in a cheap local hotel, the room was tiny but clean and they had a hot shower which was great after the days ride. The only problem was my arms, I threw my gloves away when I thought I was selling the motorbike and 11 hours in the African summer sun left the backs of my hands rather burnt.

On Friday I rode from Mbeya down into Malawi to Nkhata Bay. This ride wasn’t too bad, there was a police checkpoint just before the border and they wanted to see my insurance, when I looked confident and started taking my document folder out of my pannier the policeman said he didn’t need to see it and let me go. The border crossing was easy enough too, although I get tricked by one of the guys who exchange money on the border. I knew that $100 is 30,000 MK, so when he counted the notes out 1 to 10, wrapping the tenth around the others to make three bundles of 10 you can easily think that is 30,000. The trick being that the notes are 500 MK each, not 1000, so you end up with half as much money as you should have. It took me a few minutes to realise, and by that time the guy was over on the Tanzanian side and I was in Malawi.

I also got a text from Simba, telling me that it was a guy called Ali Mcha who had reported me to the Security officer and Ministry of Education. Whether this was because I had helped Mohammed and Janet not get ripped off by him, or whether it is even true or not, I’m not sure. I don’t really trust Simba either so he may have just been saying it to shift the blame away from himself.

I arrived in Nkhata Bay and checked into their cheapest dorm, my hands were burning even though I had used my first aid kit to bandage them up, to keep them out of the sun. I have been here in Nkhata bay since then, resting in the shade, overlooking the lake. I plan to drive down to Lilongwe tomorrow and meet a friend, I want to sell the motorbike there and then find some temporary work here in Malawi for a few months while I arrange my time in India. Maybe do my scuba diving qualification while I’m here.

Africa Blog Posts, Blog Posts

Weeks 46 & 47: Cape Maclear to Dar es Salaam

The last two weeks have been excellent, Malawi is one of my favourite countries. Week 46 started with the birthday celebration of Joana, one of the girls we had met in Monkey Bay. We stayed in Cape Maclear for a few days before we decided to head north, but on the day that we tried to leave Charlie found that he had a puncture in his rear tyre. We tried to patch it but apparently having ‘slime’ in your tyre prevents patches from sticking. We had already slept in Cape Maclear from nine nights but we had to stay a tenth night so that we could sort out Charlies bike, he put a smaller tube in the tyre to last until we could get to the next town. The next morning we set off north and stayed a night in Kande Beach before we arrived in Nkhata Bay.

Africa Trip

Nkhata Bay is the most popular tourist destination on Lake Malawi, I prefer Cape Maclear, but Nkhata bay is nice too. We stayed in a lodge called the Butterfly which offers opportunities to volunteer in the local community, in return you get discounts on your accommodation. We spent the weekend there and then stared week 47 by travelling to Livingstonia. Most of the journey was along nice tarmac roads with beautiful views on either side, then for the last 15Km the road turned into a rocky track which winds its way up the mountain to the town of Livinstonia. We stayed in the most amazing lodge I have ever visited, Lukwe Gardens. The lodge has been there for eleven years, the owner has built a permaculture farm which supplies the lodge with fruit and vegetables.

Africa Trip

We relaxed there for a few days before heading over the border into Tanzania, but on the way to Mbeya I lost touch with Charlie, we didn’t have mobile phones so we couldn’t find each other, I stayed a night in cheap accommodation before heading off on the long 830Km drive from Mbeya to Dar es Salaam. I arrived late at night and Charlie arrived the next day, now we are trying to arrange a ship to Zanzibar. Yesterday we had a ship that would take us but we couldn’t get past port security, the next ship leaves on Monday, hopefully we can get into the port then.