Double Whammy- Malawi & Mozambique

Beautiful Malawi

21st Aug 2013 (from diary)

Butterfly space hostel

We have been here for 2 days and I have not wrote a word. We arrived on Sunday night exhausted from our epic journey overland from Tanzania. A journey that included early morning rising, dalla dalla’s, walking, an epic 4 hour cab journey and a 19 hour train journey. Ach.

Malawi is very beautiful; the landscape varies from being very lush; the rubber plantations and groves of banana trees invoking India. It has dramatic up and downs as you are driving across the country and of course the Lake is the cherry on the cake. The lake is a shimmering expanse that stretches as far as the eye can see. I have seen more sunrises and sunsets than I care to mention and there have been some pretty spectacular orange and pink ones which I have attempted to photograph and one day I will upload!

On Monday I woke up at 6.30am and headed out for breakfast which is a communal affair here at Butterfly Space. We grabbed our swimming gear and headed to the private ‘beach’ and honestly I have never seen such clear water. I was sitting in the water and could see fish swimming around my body and at one point was nibbled one! The water was so clear that I finally put my face in the water and had a good look at some very pretty turquoise fish. We spent the morning at the lake and headed into Nkhata bay town which was very busy as it was market day. Cue lots of sardines and tomatoes being sold side by side. The next day the lake was incredibly rough, it resembled the sea with large waves, completely different to the clear glass of the day before.  Butterfly space where we are staying is a right hippie place, shitting into compost toilets that are open above the waist,  cold water showers made out of rock that look over the lake, communal breakfasts and inclusive community project. Toilet was up a small rocky slope- not a fan myself, luckily we were encouraged to water the trees. Owners very nice and friendly.

Ruby’s Terrace

Bom dia Mozambique!

29th August 2013

After a horrific journey from Malawi to Mozambique, which involved my card not working in several atm’s and not being to cross the border we had chosen. We ended up in the small town of Mangochi in Malawi and were helped by a very nice civil servant Josiah who found us somewhere cheap to stay and most usefully, an ATM that worked! (Fu lost his wallet & card in the cab coming into Malawi). We ended up on yet another coach that didn’t leave until packed to the rafters, this one had people standing in the aisles as well as the usual rice/ luggage etc. We were introduced this day to bicycle taxi’s- just picture fu and I with our massive rucksacks on the back of these bicycles. Getting over the border was very hard because there was no taxi’s or buses contrary to other borders we had crossed, our two options was a van with the driver being told off for the amount of beer bottles on the car floor or a massive haulage truck. Massive haulage truck it was! Comedy night ensused, we rented someone’s hotel room from them for four and a half hours and finally got on the train from Cuamba to Nampula.

Window shopping takes on new meaning in Africa, at every stop people rush to the train with fruit, veg, snacks, chickens, fried food and the others in the compartment rush to buy these via the one window. We found that the bread in Mozambique is excellent and enjoyed ourselves buying various snacks. (I was enjoying Fu’s ridiculous Portuguese accent).

So onto Mozambique itself. Well we both love it so far despite not being to speak the language. People are friendly and the landscape beautiful. We are now on Ilha de Mozambique which is the definition of decaying grandeur. Many of the Portuguese mansions and elaborate buildings have crumbled in places; however people continue to live in the shells of past houses. We went on a bicycle tour yesterday- those of you that know my cycling technique can imagine the stopping, starting and general hilarity of me trying to cycle over bumps and not career into playing children, women carrying babies on their hips and boys staring at the foreigner on the local bicycle. At one point a girl came up behind me and pushed me along! Achhhhhhh. Lol.

Today Fu went to Goa Island, a beautiful desert island with a lighthouse that is only accessible for several hours a day. I spent the day enjoying the beautiful coast and having a guided tour of the museum and museum of sacred art. The latter delivered entirely in Portuguese. Thank goodness for a Catholic upbringing and some basic Spanish! The Island is how I thought Zanzibar would be, and it is both lively and incredibly serene depending on where you are. We are hoping to party hard Latin style over the weekend and then Fu can practice his chat up line ‘Hola minina, tu es muy bonita’ (Hey girl, you are very beautiful). Of course I will not being doing anything of the sort lol. Small note on where we are staying- Ruby’s is gorgeous- beautiful white med style terrace with cerise bougainvillea and lovely rooms. Loving it.

Trying & Tremendous times in Tanzania

I wrote a bloody essay on our time in Tanzania last night but then I lost it. As I know you are all agog to know what we have been up to,  here is a summary of our time in Tanzania.

We left Zanzibar a week ago to get our visas from the Mozambican embassy.  After some rigmarole, we found that the embassy was closed due to a public holiday. Given we were told to come back on Thursday at 3pm AND so had missed Eid in Zanzibar, I was a little annoyed. Cue mini hissy fit no 1.

We had to get our coach to Dodoma the following morning. Our tickets stated that we needed to be at the station for 4.30am and we would be leaving at 5am. We arrived at the bus station at 4.15am to be told that our tickets were wrong and actually would be leaving at 11am. Apparently our tickets were in Swahili time, where the day starts at 6am and finishes at 6pm. Cue mini hissy fit no 2. We were able to get an earlier coach but had to wait until 6.30am. Grumpy faces all round. We then were squashed for 6.5 hours and the walls of the coach were leaking so I was damp and squashed. Ach!

We finally arrived in Dodoma and have been having a great time in the village of Mvumi which is an hour away from Dodoma. I originally wrote lots about the arid expanse and mine and Fu’s attempts to buy food in the village but you’ll have to wait to hear it in person.  Our host Ned is lovely, as are his school assistants, Kelvin, Freddie and Sarah who are staying with us at the ‘gappy houses’.  It was Sarah’s belated birthday celebration a few days ago which was really nice. She cooked lots of food and we found out about the Tanzanian ritual of the birthday person feeding the guests the birthday cake. And yes, I have been baking in Tanzania as Ned has an oven and both cakes were a great success.

Fu has had food poisoning the last few days and is in turns wan, grumpy and hungry. He is working on the school website from home whilst I have been preparing an assembly with Sarah on Gender & Development for my last morning at the school. I have really enjoyed my time here and wish we could stay for longer. However school starts at 7.20am which means I am getting up very early indeed!When the students are not staring at my hair and general foreignness, I’ve had some cute conversations and I’d like to do some teaching and get to know them more.

What’s next? Well the plan is to overnight in Dodoma on Thursday night and get a coach to Dar Es Salaam, first thing. We hopefully then can get a train from Dar to Mbeya which is close to the border with Malawi. I am a little concerned with the time we have left and am considering flying back from Malawi to Nairobi when we are back from Mozambique. Not sure either of our budgets will hold up to this though! If any has any thoughts on the best ways to travel from Dar to Malawi & Moz, facebook me and let me know.

We are in Zanzibar!

So we left Diani and our new friends sadly and set off for Tanzania. We had to take a very long coach journey which I survived despite getting absolutely drenched crossing the Kenyan/ Tanz border and having to sit with my rucksack on my lap for 10 hours. We went with the coach company Tahmeed, never again! We want modern muzugu coaches. The coaches here stop for 10 mins max for 2 stops at Tanga and somewhere else in Tanz so I literally had time to pee and then fight my way back over everyones luggage or rice or whatever else they had stowed in the gangway. I definitely thought I was going to wet myself at one point despite not drinking any water since 7am but survived. We arrived in Dar Es Salaam, there are alot more Indians and a stronger Islamic and African feel here as not as many people speak English as in Kenya where pretty much everyone spoke good English.

We got a hotel, went out to eat some swahili food, some coconut beans, fish with spinach and some swahili spice. The next day was spent getting our visas for Mozambique which was really difficult as you needed a letter of introduction and dollars which neither of us had. An expensive cab ride later and with 10 mins to go we boarded the ferry to Zanzibar!

We arrived in Zanzibar as the sun was setting over Stone Town. Friends from Diani had told us that the party central was in the North and so we decided to head to Nwungwi. Fu negotiated for a beach bungalow, we dropped our stuff and headed out to get a drink. Of course Zanzibar is very romantic and all bars have sea side tables lit with candles and lamps so it was a candlelit meal and drink for Fu and I under the stars LOL.  Fu went to party with the locals whilst I got an early night, I hadnt banked on the crows that would screech noisily outside our room in the early hours and this morning there was a lowing cow added to the cacophony! I digress. The next morning I got up, had breakfast and wandered up the coast, the sea is a perfect turquoise and when the sun is out it is incredibly beautiful. We had a great day just lounging on the beach, I have not done nowhere near as much swimming as I would have liked, mostly because the waves are too big for me. Ach.

We are leaving shortly for Stone Town and I am looking forward to more Michelle type sight seeing. There is only so much beach a girl can take lol.

My battery just died so I havent got any pics but you can imagine Fu and I here…Image