HELLO + WELCOME guys! We thought it was about time to do a WRAP UP of whats happening.
Since our first Wrap Up in Africa we have travelled 19 000+ kms and we are just about to hit our 5th month in the continent.
All up we have driven across Australia, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, around Zimbabwe, Zambia and now find ourselves in Malawi.
It’s Kirsty here today. Let’s go!
AFRICA IS GETTING MORE AFRICAN
Right now, as Gareth drives and I sit looking out at Africa from the passenger seat, the road in font of us is lined with people.
Women walk while balancing things on their heads – sometimes it’s water or wood, and sometimes it’s just one pumpkin! Most of the time she has a baby strapped to her back like it’s no big deal. Men push sacks of coal on their bicycles up hills. Children play in amongst the dirt and water and lead little flocks of goats and large herds of cows. Homes are built from mother earth – mud, grass and wood.
Malawi is the fifth poorest country in the World and when we entered her borders life around us noticeably became tougher. Clothes are ripped. Fewer shoes are worn. Less kids attend school. But, paradoxically, more smiles and warmer welcomes are thrown our way.
We visited Open Arms orphanage in southern Lake Malawi and spent time feeding babies and playing with little ones. I fed my first baby (ever) and then got a reality check as my second baby (ever) shat all over me! There’s little doubt having a muzungu hold up a little black baby with shit down all four of their legs was no doubt the highlight of the local carers day!
Shits and giggles aside pun totally intended it was quite a moment for us both to spend time at the orphanage. We have visited and raised money for an orphanage in the past, however the children there were much older… these were the tiniest of babies.
OFFICIALS IN ‘BIG BAD’ AFRICA
Over the thousands of kilometres we have travelled so far in Africa we have been stopped by police 30-something times. Police stops and road blocks became common place from Botswana onwards. In Malawi it seems every major arterial intersection has police present.
As soon as we spot them we slow the Troopy, shuffle away any gear or food that might look attractive. More than not we get waved through with a smile.
When we do get stopped we welcome the police with big smiles and ‘How are you today Sir?!’, he usually looks a little shocked by the ridiculously happy muzungus (white people) and says ‘Fine thanks! How are you?’. We reckon proactively setting the vibe from the very first second is the way to go.
Sometimes we are asked for a driving licence, about our local insurance and where we are going to and from. We have a chat, a laugh and off we go.
Over all these kilometres we have (fortunately) only been asked for one ‘bribe’. We were in Zambia and a bridge guarding policeman told us how hot he was, while rubbing his big fat belly, and suggested we might have a cool drink for him. ‘Sorry we can’t do that’ I reply in a totes neutral tone. He then suggested we could give his friend the money to run up the hill to buy one, ‘Sorry we can’t do that. We would just like to proceed’ Gareth says. ‘OK you can proceed’ comes from the crest fallen fatty. ‘Ohh, thank you very much, have a LOVELY day’ we offer him, knowing that his day will be spent sitting under the tree he crawled out from.
We are adamant that we won’t pay bribes on this trip. We are 100% against fuelling corruption and making the road tougher for muzungus who follow in our footsteps. Egypt may be a different case – as from all reports it is so entrenched in their way of getting things done. But we’ll see. Fingers crossed things keep flowing.
Let’s be clear. Africa is not inexpensive. It seems in the past few months the entire continent has got together and conspired to increase prices by 20-50%.
Right now in Malawi diesel is AUD$2.34 a litre and our last grocery top up was AUD$200. When 90% of the country eat maize and corn cobs it doesn’t do much to reduce the price of pasta. The largest note in Malawi is 1000 Kwacha – this is equivalent to $2.63 – so every trip to the ATM we come away with ridiculously thick wallets.
MARKING ONE YEAR ON THE ROAD:: TOP 10 PHOTOS EBOOK
Last month we hit our ONE YEAR ON THE ROAD mark. Holy hell, that’s a long time to live in a car! To mark the occasion we have flipped through 22 000 photos and picked out 10 of our faves. We would love to share these with you – so many of you have been with us in spirit from the start after all. We will be doing that in a free e-book that will be sent out over email.
LOVING + NOT LOVING SO MUCH
LOVING: celebrating my birthday on Lake Malawi (goodbye 20s!) with a cake and catamaran ride (G did good!) + finding a surrogate family at Palm Beach and feeling at home + serendipitously being at Palm Beach for the local school sports carnival and being recruited as a judge! + luxe-ing out with Robin Pope Safaris at Pumulani and Mkulumadzi complete with horizon pool and elephant sightings from our balcony! + celebrating a new friend’s birthday (SO nice to have connection with a chick my own age, here’s looking at you Trijnet!)
NOT LOVING SO MUCH: crankn’ hangover from that celebration + being aware of malaria infested mozzies + having our hearts a little sad from seeing so many people scraping by
That’s us all wrapped up. We are headed to a camp on Lake Malawi right now. Where writing, reading and some car tinkering / cleaning will be on the agenda.
We hope all is well in your life. Thanks for dropping by our little corner of the web. We LOVE having you hear.
If you have any q’s or comments let us know in the little box below this post, we’ll be listening and answering.
** PS. One more time for the slow kids in the back. To celebrate one year on the road we have created a FREE ebook of our top 10 photos FOR YOU! Simply sign-up to our newsletter by clicking here to get in on the action. It will be released into the World this week!