Sorry, I didnt have time to Edit...I am now in Nkhata Bay, but I am about to head back down sout about 60 km to find the family of a guy I met in SA...Should be interesting.
This morning I woke up in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi. It is a pretty laidback place, I didnt see much of it though. My next major stop is Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I am taking this week to inch my way north along the lake and I hope to catch a train to Dar once I cross into Tanzania. So today was my first day of that journey. At about 9:30am I caught a minibus taxi to the place to catch a bigger minibus in a northwestardly direction. The town I asked for is Nkhotakota. The dot on the map appeared to be on the map and it is north of Lilongwe, so it seemed like a good first start. I sat on the minibus for a long time. It had a capacity of about 25, so it took a long time to load. I think I was about the 5th person. After an undetermined period of time I went for a walk. I lost my flashlight at the hostel in Lusaka, Im pretty sure it was stolen, but regardless, I needed a new flashlight. I started to ask around, it turns out flashlight isn’t a common term, torch was in fact the most effective word. I was pointed into the market, which was strangely hidden behind all the buildings on the block. Most markets have been pretty obvious, not this one. As usual, one shopkeeper made it his mission to meet my need. He first brought me more of a table top light with about 40 LED bulbs, I asked if he had anything smaller, he went to a couple other vendors and scared up cheap flashlight with a sticker of the American flag and Obama. He ran a hard bargain, he charged me $10 for what appears to be a sub $5 quality kmart flashlight. I don’t do much haggling at markets, I figure the few dollars I could get knocked off for the fun of it are probably important to the seller. I don’t want to get ripped off though either. His price felt like a bit of a rip off, but I went with it. I walked quickly back to the minibus, I feared somehow there was a flood of people going to Nkhotakota and they may be waiting impatiently, or have jettisoned my bag and left. There was no need to fear, my 45 minute shopping trip saw little progress. I sat back on the bus, and read, and sat. People walk by trying to sell all types of things, it’s a bit entertaining. I would buy a snack occasionally. Women selling bananas on their head didn’t like me reading. While I wasn’t reading, I guess they knew I saw them and decided not to buy. While I was reading, about four times a banana lady came up to me and announced her bananas until I looked up and declined. I guess women like attention. I would like attention as well if I could carry a huge basket of bananas on my head. For a long time now, well before this trip, I have longed to carry things on my head. It is amazing the shapes, sizes and weight of things women carry on their heads. Unfortunately, I do not think there is a society in which it would be socially acceptable for me to do this. Maybe I will just have to practice in the privacy of my own home. I didn’t watch the time, it is helpful in any way, and despite my anxieties of wasting time, I really just have to be somewhere by dark. So at some point in time, the minibus left. This minibus had a letter taped to the front window next to the registration sticker. I think the letter explained why it was still allowed on the road. There are regular police check points, sometimes they stop vehicles, other times they just wave them through. At the checkpoint on the way out of Lilongwe, they stopped our minibus. The policeman read the letter, laughed, called his partner, who also laughed, they gave the driver a hard time and eventually waved us through. At each place the vehicles may stop (police check points, larger villages to let people off…) a wave of people come up to the bus to sell stuff. Today I had an ear of corn, a variation of French fries, and a Malawi Samoosa, which just has rice in it. The Samoosa was scary though because it is orange on the outside, and I had no idea what was inside. It turned out to be tame. I got of the bus in Nkhotakota with no clue what to do. Nkhotakota is a strip of about 3 blocks of businesses, with paths going back to villages in all directions. I am guessing there are touristy lodges on the lake, but that’s where I am. I got dropped off at 16:30, too late to explore much. A couple people asked me where I was going, I told them I didn’t know, they helped me sort it out. Its nice cause this isn’t a tourist area, so everyone doesn’t expect money in return for help. I was pointed to a motel right in front of me because it was nice and had good security. I spoke to the man at the gate who told me a room was about $25, I told him it was too much, after a few more exchanges that included his friend, they walked me to a place down the street where I got a room for about $3.50. It’s simple, and as you can imagine, I am very pleased with the price. No toilet seat though. I hung out with my helper, Prince, and his friend. More his friend whose name I still need to learn, because Prince was still at work at the motel that was too expensive for me. After it had gotten dark, I decided to go rest for a bit…I read for awhile and am currently sitting here waiting for Prince to call me, hoping we can get a drink somewhere, this room is a little small to spend too many hours awake in.
So I hung out with Prince tonight, it was cool, we had a beer, played pool with an almost round cue ball, I like the bar food here, except the part where its served by kids. They walk around with a tray of food, there are only a few, one had fish, the other hard boiled eggs, and the third samoosas. I had three samoosas. On our walk back I asked Prince what time he works in the morning, he said 5am. He works 5am til 9pm everyday. He is the chef at the motel. I will try to wrap my mind around that as I go to sleep tonight.