Malawi and the Mob

I arrived in Malawi the following day to the lakeshore which reminds me of Mexican fishing villages.  A series of villages with plywood box built homes littered along the coastline, just above the grove of wooden fishing boats lining the beach shores.  A great scene of classic fishing villages, old wooden boats as well as dugout canoes still being used.

I found a great little African/Caribbean style resort in a secluded bay where I spent a couple of days.  The most amazing setting with standard African amenities; no hot showers, rolling power blackouts and no fan inside the room, and a great chef.  The setting was perfect and straight out of a Corona beer commercial on a deserted island.  I’d go back in a heartbeat.

I checked my email upon arrival and was alerted by the US Embassy STEP program, there was a coup in Zimbabwe last night and the president has been captured and thrown in jail.  The country is now under military control.  So… I spent a fair bit of the days running up an international data phone bill trying to line out a new route around the country that includes the west cost of Namibia instead of the direct route through Zimbabwe.  The next couple of weeks now looks like: Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Big Sky.

It could be the 100+ degree heat of the last couple days, or the Tanzanian border guard who sneezed a gross mixture of bodily fluids my direction, or the countless bug bites I have, but I don’t feel very well.  It’s always a little unsettling when I get sick in developing countries, as it could be a host of items my body isn’t used to.  The last time I got really sick, I way laying on a cold clay dirt floor of a subpar Uzbekistan B&B, with my own bodily fluids spewing uncontrollably out of me. It took 3 days of that before that fever broke – not a great experience.  Anyway… after crossing into Zambia tomorrow, I’ll try to find western style accommodations with A/C, something better than a dirt floor, pop a few pills, drink some whiskey and hope for the best.

Leaving Malawi was quite a scene.   There was a semi-truck overturned in the two-lane road and completely blocking passage.  Most vehicles were parked alongside the road, waiting for what certainly wouldn’t be a quick fix to get the road clear.  A brave few in 4×4’s drove off embankment, down into the thick brush for an alternate route back to the road.  I decided to drop in, and as soon as I entered the brush was quickly surrounded by a mob of about 30 villagers all carrying “beating sticks”, shovels, hoes, or any other weapon they could thing to bring.  They surrounded the bike and demanded I pay for passage.  What’s a guy to do when surrounded by a mob of farmers…? I exchanged a few glances with several of the village people to understand they meant business, gladly paid their “toll” and waited for them to clear the way for me.  Makes you wonder if they caused the truck accident so they could capitalize on the toll road business.

Had another odd encounter just before crossing into Zambia.  I see a procession of cars coming slowly coming down the road in my direction.  They’re swerving all over the road, hanging out of windows, riding on the tops of trucks, waving flags, honking horns and yelling.   As they approached, I assumed they would leave enough road for me to pass, so I moved to the shoulder – I was wrong.  At the last moment before impact with the lead vehicle, I turned the bike down into the ditch and somehow kept it upright as they passed.  Not sure what they were celebrating or protesting, I imagine it has something to do with the overthrown president in Zimbabwe.  I worked my way up out of the ditch and onto the border crossing.

Thank god for a little excitement today – ever since I left North Africa, the trip has been a bit of a yawn.


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