HELLO + WELCOME as we make our way from Sydney to London, overland. Our last post followed our journey driving around Zimbabwe, from there we headed into Zambia and Malawi.
It’s Kirsty writing today.
We had a few urgent things to get done in Zambia.
ONE: A new battery, as the old one was finally giving up after the shipping company messed with it.
TWO: Groceries. Of the fancy variety. Not just tinned vege.
THREE: Antihistamine cream for the ever-increasing welt on my leg, courtesy of a Tetse fly who bit me in Mana Pools. Three times in one spot must be my antibodies threshold because the area swelled to the length of a football and rose up a couple of scary centimetres.
In Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, those three tasks took an entire day. The traffic was definitely our most hectic yet. Though we didn’t think it was that bad seeing as though the traffic was always moving. ‘Bad’ at this stage would be gridlock.
:: Overtaken by a semi-trailer. Again.
:: The start to a new day in Zambia, passing men pushing sacks full of coal. We saw one guy with seven sacks balanced on his bicycle.
:: The view from our window
:: The further up Africa we travel the roads become more congested. I love it, and we are very lucky Gareth is an excellent Troopy driver!
After a few days of Zambia the urge to head straight to Malawi hit us. We were craving some beach time and my birthday was around the corner, so we put our foot down.
Entering the country was very simple. Compared to the USD$160 Zambian border crossing that had six different desks to cover. Here we visited just three. At every border we need to get a visa in our passport, the Troopy’s passport endorsed and then secure third Party Insurance. Some countries like to invent road taxes, carbon taxes, local council taxes etc etc (Ahem, Zambia!)
We got ripped a new hole in our wallet by the money exchangers to secure our Malawian Kwacha for our third party insurance, and off we went!
Side Note For Overlanders Trip Planning: The story we got in Zambia is that COMESA Yellow Card Insurance is no longer officially valid, although some operations are still selling it. Some travellers we’ve met found a dodgy salesman still issuing them in the city (Potentially a good idea? Although not worth the paper it’s written on it will save you money short term). It also wasn’t available in Malawi. So we’ll see in Tanzania. It’s difficult to get solid information on the changes. We will include these notes in our Africa Travel Notes.
As soon as we crossed the border into Malawi the scenery and people changed significantly. It’s incredible to see that political borders spell such great change. The poverty here is extreme. Malawi is the fifth most impoverished country in the World and it is very visible. With that has come an onslaught of volunteers and brand new 4WD charity vehicles.
A usual day for us right now is travelling down the road and being greeted by hundreds of children, women and men waving at us. We love it when we wave at an older lady or man and they break into smiles.
The word for white people here is Muzungus. Groups of children burst out into ‘MUUUUUUUZUUUUUUNGUUUUUUUUUUU’ and we can hear the final ‘uuuuu’ as our car whizzes past. We’ve had more kids hanging off the car here than anywhere else.
It’s all about the music here too, Malawians are hugely laid back and although the National elections are coming up in less than a month (which can spell trouble in many African countries) we have been assured “Arrghhh, no problem”
:: Giving a ride to a pair of hitchhikers by Lake Malawi
Side Note: The political parties here are in full swing! Every town has flags for various parties. Yellow, Blue and Orange for the current leader Joyce Banda. Mrs Banda has a very clever marketing campaign in action, delivering bright orange cloths to the women. Who where them as skirts! Towns are full with splashes of orange; and we aren’t too sure if that’s because they support Joyce or they support having a fresh skirt!
The Troopy has been running perfectly – touch wood – and it was time for a service. So in Lilongwe we found a backpackers that didn’t mind us changing the oil and filters in their yard. Gareth got to business. And I jumped in for a photo pretending to prod something.
:: Gareth changes the oil, coolant, diff oil, and filters
:: I inspect the windscreen wiper fluid levels (and kak myself laughing at my skill set)
In the two days leading up to my birthday the universe served me the kind of lesson I only get when travelling. I was feeling homesick for the very first time. And after meeting a particularly vulgar couple the same day I was really missing my friends. As always happens when I lose focus, I end up running into something – literally. I smashed my head on the communal showers bathroom doorway early one morning and That. Was. It! (haha)
“I just need my people” I said through tears to G. “Who are all these Darren-Drainers. I want Kate. I want Simon. I want Erica and Jen… (insert blubbery noises) I really want Jen she would tell them all to go f!ck themselves…” I was pretty sad.
Side Note: Darren-Drainers is french for people you meet who drain the hell out of you
Side Note 2: Jen would have certainly put them in their place, but she also would have told me to buck up!
That’s when we both decided to get the hell out of there and surround ourselves with better energy.
THEN when we ran into Scott and Teresa O’Kane again. The. Most. Awesome. Couple. Although they were leaving camp and we were coming in, we both jumped out of our cars and chatted for ages.
Teresa was exactly what I had been needing, delivered by the universe and standing right in front of me.
She was so cool. So kind. A writer. An award winning writer at that. So god damn inspiring and human!
When we found out we had the same birthday we did a little dance together and exchanged big hugs. She then pulled a copy of her book Safari Jema out of their car and said ‘A birthday present for you!’
When we said goodbye my insides were buzzing with happiness. All of a sudden the out of whack universe slammed into alignment. I read most of her book that afternoon and it was if it was written for me.
:: Standing with the ray of light that is Teresa O’Kane. We share the same birthday and met one day before, she gifted me her award winning book Safari Jema. If you are interested you can order the book by clicking here. And I would definitely recommend that you do!
I said goodbye to my 20′s at a private lakefront camp and we had the whole place to ourselves. As sunset Gareth and I chartered a catamaran and snorkelled amongst the lake’s small brightly coloured fish. It was a scene out of a film and made THIRTY (my scary age!) seem a lot more exciting with a gin and tonic in hand.
Gareth bought a huge Kampungo from the local fishermen and had the cook prepare it. He also had a surprise waiting.. as we hopped off the boat we were welcomed to a scene of candlelights, balloons, flowers and streamers waving in the wind. He had even arranged the cook to whip up a cake. It tasted just like the ones my Grandma use to make.
The camp staff looked giddy with pride at their efforts. Our waiter, Vincent, was acting all fancy and trying really hard to make everything perfect, which was actually pretty comical as he confused the words dinner for entree. But he did well!
It was such a wonderful day. We managed to Skype, email and WhatsAPP family and loved ones. Tens of messages came through from our Facebook crew. And the day was topped off by some of my dearest girlfriends uploading a video to YouTube wishing me a Happy Birthday – they aren’t quite up with the technology to do such things so I was VERY IMPRESSED LADIES (even if the camera was held sideways! haha).
Beaming out lots of love to you, wherever you are.
Thanks for joining us in spirit on this expedition.
Onwards we roll.