Team FroJo 2010 travel blog

We have arranged with the car rental guy that we will pick up the car in Mzuzu so we take a 2 hour bus that takes 4 hours and meet him there. In Mzuzu there is a power outage and the cell phone network is down so its a challenge to meet up with him. Its a wonderful luxury to finally throw the packs into the trunk and stop at the supermarket to buy some large bottles of water and some snacks for the road. At the gas station i try to buy some time for our Sim card and an angry man glares at me and says "Now speak to me in Tumbuka. You are in Malawi now". I'm not sure what to say, but I apologise and say that if i had been in his country for 6 months i would gladly attempt to speak Tumbuka to him but having only been in his country for 2 days, I cannot. I am forgiven it seems, but its not the first time i have experienced such bluntness here in Africa. In Arusha I had tried to say hello to an old man walking into a shop with the "Mambo" (how are you) i had learned. But he had angrily responded to me "I am over 60 years old. You should say "Shikamoo" to me" (which translates roughly as i touch your feet). I was so taken aback by his gruffness that i had just sort of stammered out an apology and he maybe was also embarrassed as he had just turned and left the shop. Its a long way from the Asian ideas of face saving here! We drive north again to Rumphi and stop for a quick lunch. In Malawi, just as in Tanzania, food takes often around an hour before it materializes from the kitchen, and then sometimes its just to say, sorry "the dish you ordered is finished for today"! So we spent an hour or so in the sunshine by the lake playing our travel games. We have one balancing game (thanks to Magne and Torunn) and one multiple game magnetic checkers/parcheesi set (thanks to father christmas) that we play now .... well apprx 3 times a day. Highly recommend for anyone travelling to Africa! On the one main road in Malawi there are hardly any traffic and the people stand and wait for someone to pick them up, so we stop every now and then. Our first passengers are two women who speak good English. We laugh at how they are able to carry so many things on their head and they cant understand how we manage to carry things on our shoulders. We've seen women balancing the strangest things on their heads - suitcases, sack of potatoes, bucket of water, a single closed umbrella, huge plates with fruits on and just about everything else. When they get out of the car they thank God and say they will pray for us. Over the next few days we discuss our strategy on picking up people. We decide to favour the women and children. Some people hop gladly in and believe that God has sent us and others look at us with suspicion, not sure why the strange mzungus are stopping for them.

More on Malawi in a couple of days...

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