Joined: Jun 2005
Location: Eastern Cape, South Africa
On the countryside.
Being the last month of the dry season, one can expect that the place might be a little unpretty. And so it was, but really, the locals decimate large swathes of land. They burn to get access, and then they clearcut. I have pointed out before how they cut for sustainability, but you have to see the extent of the cutting to appreciate it. It took me by surprise because I expected wilderness.
This is the last major trip I do in the dry season. I've had enough of everything being dry, dusty and grey. Next time I'll rather try for the end of the rainy season.
On the population
These people are poor, really poor. You will notice that there aren't as many pics of the locals as I normally include. This is because not too many of them were friendly or smiling. Don't get me wrong, no-one was unfriendly, I just got the feeling that happiness was a scarce commodity here.
It appeared to be very much a hand to mouth existence. What commerce we saw was the very basic, stone age, live from the land type thing. Cutting trees for house building and charcoal, cutting grass for roofing, that kind of thing.
The trees are cut into logs which gets transported one by one on bicycles. Often we would come across a lone oke pushing his bicycle along the path 200km from the nearest town.
The second use for the logs is charcoal.
Again transported by bicycle.
In a lot of faces you could see that surviving was the sole activity that this human being was consumed with. It got to me a little. Poverty is everywhere in Africa, but here it was different to any other place I had been to.
On the trip
I am loathe to bring this up, but one has to be honest. I have no intention of writing fiction.
I was dissapointed with this trip. Ja, I know, you are thinking 'what an arsehole'.
It was like I was waiting for the real trip to start the whole time. I have tried to figure out why it did not work for me.
It could be the immense poverty that made it depressing.
It could be that the mindfuck of an Angolan trip spoiled me forever.
It could be that my expectations of the wildlife wasn't met.
It could be that not completing the trip by reaching the ocean made it feel inadequate.
It could be that it was too short.
It could be that it was too easy, there is nothing like a bit of suffering to make you feel accomplished.
It could be all of the above.
My wife said something that sounds about right though. Not all trips can be the best one ever. Like anything else in life there are going to be good ones and less good ones (can't really picture a bad one).
And so it is OK. I'm cool with it. It was still very memorable and I enjoyed it.
In Malawi we got to meet a good many of the expat community. Most of them know each other even though they may be scattered through the country. I liked every single one I met. Tanya, Maria, Kate, Mia, Julie, Dan, Jurie and many others that I do not recall the names of. There are of course a couple of odd ones, but like any small society, their quirks do not exclude them. They are a tolerant lot. I could see myself having a good life there. I was also surprised about the amount of young white girls just migrating around Zim, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia by themselves, finding a job at one place, staying a year or so and then moving on again. And they party hard when they get together.
Some arbitrary pics
This guy makes probably the best wooden cars trucks and excavating equipment in Africa. All of them have moving parts. Fascinating.
Here's his workshop. Hard to believe eh?
Local delicacy, birds on a stick.
At the odd village we would find boreholes like this.
This plaque is on each one. Looks like some biker connection?
Just for you 'sweat in the sun' tyre lever specialists.
Yes that's a plug. Yes on a 640 tyre. Tubeless baby, tubeless. Or more correctly Tubliss. I've converted three of my bikes so far. Fantastic stuff, cannot stop myself smiling like I won the lottery everytime I fix a flat.
And a last Malawi pic, because it's pretty.
These weeks were not wasted time. We brought back memories, we brought back pictures, I brought back bilharzia and Hennie brought back malaria.
And I brought back an excellent idea for a new trip. Woohoo.
Oh, I almost forgot about John the Baptist.
We drop Brian in Blantyre to catch a flight and we stay over at Doogles. Doogles is a backpackers situated in a taxi rank. Thursdays are the unofficial party day there for expats. We are there on a Thursday. Big get together of locals, expats and overlanders, socializing and drinking till late. The owner of Doogles allow prostitutes (ugly word, there should be something better) on the premises. They are well behaved because if they are not, their priviledges are revoked. Some pretty ones too.
One of these girls, introduces herself as Sugar, or 'Shooogah' (in a husky voice). This ample bodied, very dark, heavily made up femme fatale (with no concept of personal space) leaves me speechless when she hotly breathes - "You look like John the Baptist".
John the Baptist!
And there you have it, one man's Chucky Norris is another woman's John the Baptist