Day 39 –
L: Suffice it to say…….that was a long and miserable night for me. Seems I caught the stomach flu that is going around in the village, maybe by shaking hands.
S: I had been up with Lesley all night so when she was able to doze, I left her sleeping and got up to make myself coffee and rusks. I eventually gave Lesley a Rehydration sachet and we used the Kantrexil that we had brought. Nearly 40 days on the road before one of us got a bug is really good going.
L: Steve blogged and sorted our photos with minimal input from me. I was up in the roof-top tent dozing most of the morning. I suggested that Steve go and settle the two nights fees and mention to Sandy and Chris that we still hope to drive on today, but that we may be a little longer.
I eventually managed to raise my head at lunchtime, but I hadn’t had anything to eat yet and then tried some flat Coke. I was sure that I would feel a whole lot better after a shower and had my 4th cold shower at Ngala. Some little gremlin keeps switching off the geyser. Clever Steve switched it back on so he had a fair shower after packing up.
As Steve was in the bathroom, 4 cars arrived and surrounded us so it was real good timing, us leaving, as we would have had our peace shattered, ha ha.
S: It was a lovely drive and for 122 kms, we only passed a few taxis with a handful of cars and trucks coming from the other way. Seems all the children were off to religious lessons or something in their crisp blue outfits.
We passed acres of what we think were rubber trees on the way, terraced beautifully in the woods. Why we think they are rubber trees is that a lot of young chaps would bounce balls on the road to advertise their wares presumably made from the rubber.
L: So finally, although we only did 122 kms which took over 3 hours, we arrived in Nkhata Bay. We drove down through twisty turny roads and were not impressed with the entrance into the bay. We first stopped at a place called Mayoka Village. Steve went in to look and was not happy with the general condition. Also, he was tired after just going down and then back up to the car-park as you cannot drive to the rooms so we would have to carry a lot of our goodies in.
We carried on and although the next place had camping sites, the ablutions looked awful so we opted for our own double room with en-suite bathroom. Not a five star, oh wait, not a single star, but we could park outside and it had a nice clean bed. By now, I was feeling sore as I had taken strain and it was great to be inside, between 4 walls. The front door, however, would not keep much out, not even a draught, nor mosquitos as the planks were loose. Inside, however, were intricate carvings for the cornices and skirting boards.
So supper became left-overs and nice warm tea and I dozed a bit of the afternoon.
We wrapped ourselves up in the mosquito-netting hung over the “four-poster” bed and slept soundly. I must say, this is only the third actual structure we have slept in in over our 39 days. I think I deserve it, once every two weeks ;-)). S: Especially when you are ill, My Darling.
Day 40 –
L: Happy Fathers’ Day!!
S: It started out as a good day. The road was bad as we turned out of the campsite – very patched and very roller-coaster-like. But it was a nice slow drive through until we got to Mzuzu, winding through what can only be described as a forest. through a lot of villages. This area reminds me of the Knysna Forest in the Western Cape, South Africa.
We stopped off at a Total garage to buy some bread and chips and then headed out of town. I overtook a taxi that was doing about 25 kms going down a hill and I was caught doing 65 kms/hour even though I was back down to 50 at the bottom of the hill. Apparantly, it was still a 50 km zone even though there were no boards to indicate it as such. With the result, I ended up paying 5000 Kwacha, which is about R135!!! I was not impressed.
L: I paid the cops while Steve fumed, not so silently, in the car…….Straight after the police stop, we were overtaken by a taxi with a truck coming towards us, so were nearly forced off the road. Where are the cops when you need them? Directly after that, we pulled up at another blockade and moaned at the taxi driver who pushed back in front of us and sped off up the hill……Seems only foreigners get into trouble here, ho hum.
S: From Mzuzu the road north runs quite a bit inland of the lake and is still very hilly and progress is slow due to the many villages where you have to slow down to 50km/h, well the foreigners anyway, it does not apply to the locals. We followed the ridge of the mountain and then through a valley, or so it seemed, as we then started to descend back down to the lake via a pass that is long, has a lot of steep switchback corners and is in poor condition. Fortunately traffic was light and we were soon travelling along the lake shore again which incidentally is 500 meters above sea level.
L: We arrived in Chilumba and pulled in at a place called Chitimba Beach Lodge. It was nice and grassy and we had a bite to eat and later, bravely, went for a swim……..I still look over my shoulder everywhere even though they say that they hardly ever see a croc and not hippos??.
While we were on the beach, a lot of the local youth came to chat to us and eventually advertise their carving and jewelry samples, but it was fun chatting to them and telling them about “Madiba” land (South Africa). One of the little boys was called Nelson and the other was a Steve. All the while, we are so conscious of where are bags are, but they were fine. After spending a lot go time at the water with us, one of the 3 little boys asked if we had a pen for them…..To me, that is the most special thing, they don’t ask for food or sweets or money, but something to help them with their education. Apparently their schools are in short supply of pens and paper so we gave them quite a few pens and all the old scrap paper and exam pads that I have brought with for just such an occasion. We also handed out 3 toothbrushes with covers for them. Their houses don’t have running water or bathrooms, they use a basin to wash and fetch water from the village pump. Here we are on a huge lake and yet the water is not piped into the homes of the people living here.
S: The locals also mentioned that there is only cold water at Chitimba Beach Lodge and when we returned we saw that it was true. The ablutions were pitch dark as they were painted royal blue and we were in the middle of another power outage. I walked across to the next campsite called Hakuna Matata and spoke to the owner, Will, who could accommodate us. He is a South African. So we decided to swop camps as their ablutions were far superior.
Our new campsite is a lot more primitive than the one next door, but since we are camping, luxury is a decent bathroom.
Will really is a chatter-box and is a mine of information about the area and a lot of where we will be going. He was also kind enough to give me a Bradt book about Tanzania which is very informative.
L: I managed to get our laundry done too and we had a chat to Will and Maggie, the lady that cleans the campsite while we braaied.
Day 41 –
L: Yes!! it was a warm shower this morning……We were up quite early as the sun was streaming in through the seams of the RT tent. We had made the decision to pack up totally and come back to camp at the same place if we needed to.
We said goodbye and eventually left after a long chat with Will.
It was through the customs control where they checked our passports and then up, up and up the mountain pass of twists and turns through the shaded trees. 9am and the temp was already showing 32 degrees so the trees were a great bonus. Seems this pass, the infamous Girodi Road, has 20 bends as they are numbered on each of the switch-back turns. It was a great drive and the pass has a drainage canal (sloot) on the side which keeps the pass in better condition. Funny how everyone says this is such a terrible road yet we found it so pleasant compared to a lot of other roads we have travelled. Such a contrast to the bad roads throughout Malawi.
Halfway up we came across the young couple who had left our campsite this morning to climb up the pass – craaaaazzzzzzy. They were doing well after two hours and resting at a small waterfall.
As we neared The Mushroom Farm which is a campsite that we had read about, we saw a chap just sitting on the side of the road. We asked if he was ok and he said that he is suffering a bad bout of stomach flu and is hoping to get to the hospital at the top of the pass for some help. Well now, we don’t have a back-seat in the bakkie any more, but we loaded him on to the running-board and took him up the hill. His name is Matthew, from Canada, staying at the Mushroom Farm, which he recommended to us.
S: We took in the sights and the sounds of Livingsonia and were amazed at how the people are all dressed so smartly in high-heeled shoes to walk the rough tracks. They are not very friendly though.
L: after dropping off Matt at the local hospital, we carried on and stopped off to see the Livingstonia Mission (Presbyterian) Church, which is lovely with the most beautiful stained-glass windows, except for the holes from stones thrown over the years. The guide was most informative and then guided us to a little room with stairs…….No, thanks, off you go, Steve, you have the camera……..
S: What a climb, all the way up the bell-tower on those rickety stairs to the top. They are fund-raising to replace the floorboards that the bell stands on and where I am standing at the moment!! Thanks……
I took several pics from the top of the view and of my sensible wife standing on solid ground, far, far below and now to summon up the courage to climb back down…….
L: Hee Hee.
We were asked for a donation and left to see The Stone House, built for Dr Law in 1903 and where he lived for 25 years. There was also a college, school and university up here to honour Livingstone, made possible by Dr Law. The university is small and a bit run-down so not sure how much learning is still happening here.
We also went to see the museum, but were put off when they said that you have to pay to take photos, inside or out, so we left that. We later heard from Matthew that the museum is a jumble of artifacts, with badly written reports.
Yes, we found Matthew and gave him a lift back down to the Mushroom Farm where we are staying for the night in the most amazing “room with a view”. Ok, well – canvas tent with a view. It is perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the valley, some 700 meters below, to the lake which is at 500 meters above sea-level. Hard to comprehend.
This place is so hard to describe when you have your feet on the ground. We stand up here and feel dizzy at the sheer magnitude of it all. It is like looking at the sea and for me, having lived in Sea Point, Cape Town all my life, I can’t believe that this is fresh water, well except for all the rivers running in to it where everyone does their bathing and washes their clothes, but that is a story for another day. For now, we will just enjoy it.
We met Maddie, she and her brother run the place, and checked in for the night. We decided to order lunch, which although took a while to come, was so worth the wait and Mushroom Medley tea – a brew of all my favourites – ginger, lemongrass, lemon and honey. Steve pinched most of the honey……
Lunch was an Asian noodle soup – so thick, so more like a stew with a fried egg on top. Steve had the egg salad sandwich with avo and chips with his beer. We enjoyed the view from the lunch table and got some helpful info from Matthew and a business card for a place to stay in Arusha, Tanzania. They run an orphanage as well so I better get those blankets ready……I am nearly finished another one and am still carrying the last few from Cape Town. We just marvel at who God puts in front of us with these messages for us.
S: This place that we are at has buildings or should I say, structures, built on the side of the mountain in the most daunting fashion. There is one little place that is little more than a bed on a platform with a thatch roof that if you suffered from sleep-walking – you would have a real problem. Lesley insisted on walking down the steep path to go and take photographs and I had visions of her “trip” ending right there. L: Ha ha, it would not have ended there as I would have rolled all the way down the hill – like Liz ;-)). S: I must say, we would have the same problem from our tent except that at least we have 3 steps before we go over the edge.
We were entertained by some local taxi driver trying to start his vehicle, by push-starting it…….down the steep track to the campsite. Then a whole bunch of the workers here defied gravity by pushing it back up to try the same story…..luckily the brakes worked when the engine caught and disaster was diverted. And all the while we were parked below them while boiling a flask of water for more tea.
So now we are blobbing while blogging and really just enjoying the peace and the view.
L: And especially the 5 raptors floating aimlessly on the up draughts, calling to their young.
The prices here in Malawi are reasonable so after only using fuel for 26 kms up the pass, we are treating ourselves to the supper at the camp of Groundnut Stew with Rice and Chipati bread. Yeah, we can’t believe how spoilt we are, either.
S: Some technical stuff. We filled up in Zambia before crossing the border at about R16 a litre which included two of our jerry cans, making a total of 135 litres. And we have not put in diesel here in Malawi as it is about R23 a litre. Tomorrow we head into Tanzania and it is about 150km to the border from where we are and we will have enough fuel to get there and to the next town to draw some Tanzanian shillings so we can fill up at a much cheaper rate of about R14 a litre, I think.