We left Cape MacLear two days ago on a bus to Blantyre. The bus ride wasn’t nearly as unpleasant as the one to Monkey bay, and we got to go through some beautiful countryside. Blantyre is the industrial center of Malawi, with not a lot to offer the backpacker. We stayed in this Christian youth hostel for the outrageous sum of K50.00 (Us$10) for the dorm. Rich was less than thrilled with our side trip to Blantyre (he wanted to stay on the lake another day).
We slept there the night then woke up the morning of the 17th in order to catch our bus to Lilongwe. Got on the bus and each had a seat to ourselves during the five hour ride. The road we took to Lilongwe is the frontier road with Mozambique, so I was excited at the prospect of being so close to a country where it’s not a good idea to visit at the moment. The MNZ breakaway group in Mozambique was been shooting at trucks and buses in the Tete corridor, but nothing happens on the road we were travelling. After a while we came upon a brick building on the left hand side of the bus It was the Mozambique immigration post, and for the next 77 kilometers the bus rarely stopped as we sped past the country in the throes of a civil war. Looking at what we saw it looked peaceful and beautiful like Malawi, but I knew there were other things happening there. The bus made it to Lilongwe where we found a room in the local rest house. Riding buses in these third world countries is a real experience. The people can bring whatever they want on the buses (the woman in front of us had a guinea fowl in her lap on the way to Monkey bay), and there doesn’t seem to be any maximum capacity of people. If there’s room, then more people will get on. When you’re on these extensive bus rides if you forget to bring food you’re going to get really hungry. Don’t fret – there’s usually at least ten Malawian children at all major bus stops, adorned with baskets full of food for sale to ravenous passengers. First you haggle for the price of the . . . (samosa, fruit, bread) whatever. The kids raise the baskets over their head and you take what you want and leave the money in the basket. No problem. You can get food and drink virtually everywhere. We could eat without ever leaving the bus. Drinks are a bit harder to come by – it gets complicated with the bottle deposits, trading an empty for a full – things like that.