Well, that was certainly an eventful weekend! We crammed a ton of activities in, and the natural fallout of trying to move at a fast pace in slow-paced Malawi was rather humorous!
First thing for the weekend was to get to Blantyre for the night. Our friends Jen & Adnaan were driving to Blantyre and offered us a ride, so we spent a hilarious 5ish hours in the car with them, reaching our hostel in Blantyre at around 10:30 pm.
We joined the other girls, reaching a group total of eight: Brittany, Alisha, Mylan, Anna, Roxanne, Sam, Felicity, and I, and joined some Malawian friends to hang out for the night. We had a lot of fun… accidentally stayed out until 4:30 am, which made the idea of leaving for Zomba at 7:30 am very unappealing! Though, we did enjoy the view of the sun rising over Blantyre from the hostel patio!
Fallout Effect #1: We were dead to the world and didn’t get up until after 7:30.
Alisha went to the clinic to make sure she didn’t have malaria, and once she had her negative tests back, we all met for breakfast and then headed over to the minibus stop to bargain for a ride.
Fallout Effect #3: Our previously bargained-for minibus was no longer available because we were so late.
Eh – we still found a minibus and enjoyed our bumpy ride to Zomba, arriving around lunch time and getting to experience fantastic homemade pasta at our hostel, the Casa Rossa. The owners gave us the number of a guide who took us part way up the plateau and then led us on a beautiful hike through a tropical and pine forest (how strange is that!?!) to a waterfall pool where some of us went swimming (clearly, I am always in the water if it is around, so I am part of that ‘some’).
Fallout Effect #3: Because we were later getting to Zomba than planned, we weren’t able to complete the hike to the top of the plateau on Saturday, which meant that our planned leaving time on Sunday needed to be pushed back.
We came back to the hostel and ate another meal of amazing homemade pasta, and chatted until late. We were all a little worried about our safety, as for some reason, Malawians burn the brush and are working on clearing the mountainside right now, and the fire had gotten out of control and was very close to our hostel. Feeling like we were taking our lives in our hands going to sleep there, we quizzed the owners about safety and they informed us that they had a fire break around the property, guards keeping watch who would lead an evacuation if needed, and a fire truck on the mountain. They also told us that the fire was actually moving north away from us, so we felt comfortable enough to go to sleep.
Sunday morning we got going a little bit later than we meant to, and headed up the mountain and climbed for 2 hours up to the peak, enjoyed the gorgeous view for twenty minutes, and then turned around and headed back down – stopping numerous times along the way to enjoy lungozi (yellow raspberries) that only grow on Zomba mountain (they can grow the canes in the village, but they won’t bear fruit!).
We shopped at the tourist stands for some carvings and then headed back to Casa Rossa for one final meal of pasta before hopping on a minibus to Lilongwe.
Fallout Effect #4: Our late start in the morning and the longer hike meant that instead of leaving on the noon bus, we left on the 2 pm bus.
You’d think that would be the end of the story… but nope, it isn’t! The minibus was fine at first – moving along pretty quickly, three people to a row. After about 2 hours, we started to stop at nearly every village, squeezing more and more people into the bus, until there were four people to each row and a few standing in between the rows! One of my seat neighbours (I was in the back row) ended up climbing out the window at his stop because that was the easiest way out, and his replacement came in through the window as well! The seat we were on had broken and been repaired, so we were sitting on a crooked non-cushioned bench of two planks that were separated by a few inches (super comfy for four hours of bumpy roads haha)! At around 7 pm, 5 hours into our journey, we reached Ntcheu (pronunciation: N-chay-o) and everyone got off the bus… including the driver and conductor. We sat and waited, figuring the bus would eventually fill again and we’d move on.
Suddenly, a bunch of guys came over, told us we were going in a taxi, and grabbed our bags. We followed them, hollering and trying to figure out if we had all of our stuff, not sure what was going on. They stuffed everything into the trunk of a compact car, and told us to get in. Through all the commotion we managed to figure out that it wasn’t a taxi, and was rather a private car and the couple in front were the owners. As we drove away, the man explained that he and his wife had overheard the driver and conductor discussing stealing from us and then abandoning us, and had bargained with them to rescue us and give us a ride the rest of the way to Lilongwe.
Fallout Effect #5: Not speaking Chichewa and leaving too late put us in a really dangerous situation that we had no idea we were in!
We were so grateful to these Good Samaritans, but were rather squished – 4 of us in the back seat of a compact car! About 20 minutes down the road, the engine overheated and we had to pull over at a police checkpoint and sit on the side of the road for an hour, waiting for the engine to cool down. I, meanwhile, was facebooking and texting so that if anything bad happened, friends and family would know where we had last been seen! So thankful that we have such an amazing group of friends here – once my facebook post went up, six of our friends here in Malawi either texted or called us to make sure we were alright! Once we got back on the road, we drove at 60 km/hr all the way back to Lilongwe, stopping a few times so the driver could bargain for groceries from sleeping roadside vegetable sellers, and arriving at home at 11:30 pm, over 9 hours after we began our journey.
Fallout Effect #6: We are super exhausted from the long trip, and all of our hips and legs are killing us from the combination of climbing a mountain and then sitting in uncomfortable spaces for the majority of the day!
The redeeming factors of the trip: Blantyre was fun, our friend group had a blast together, Zomba was gorgeous and worth every second of discomfort, the pasta was terrific, the berries were so yummy, our friends here in Malawi are super sweet, we got home safe and sound with all of our stuff, and the overwhelming majority of Malawians are super friendly, helpful, and kind. Still in love with this place and hoping to never leave! ;)
Welcome! My name is Katiana and I am a development professional pursuing my dream to live out Isaiah 1:17 to the best of my abilities. I am passionate about teaching and working with vulnerable families and children to improve their lives sustainably.
This blog is composed of my personal opinions, which do not necessarily reflect the opinion or views of institutions or organizations that I may be or have been affiliated with.