Are we there yet? No, but we have travelled most of the kilometers we have to travel and the most surprising thing is that the girls have not asked that question yet.
Good morning. And welcome to my first story from Malawi! It's not even Monday and I am writing a blog; a good sign that my world is upside down. I almost did not want to post (posting on Mondays has been an habbit for so long) but I think I will have to let go of anything that was normal and usual to me so not having a usual blog day is one of the smaller habbits that I must let go. I don't know how often I will write as internet access will not be super regular but here is a story to start.
It's Saturday morning, I am still under my mosquito-net-tent after birds woke me up from my best sleep in a week. The first vertical sleep after 3 nights on a bus, on seats that are not the most comfortable or spacious. Today we will travel to Nkatha Bay, a small lake side town from where we will start the final leg of our journey; the hours long ferry ride. At some point, not so far in the future, that ferry will probably be normal and possibly even boring but for now I am so excited to see the shores of Lake Malawi pass by while all we can do is enjoy and wait. The week has been intense, eventful and good. Let me take you back to where our journey started.
Tuesday morning; D-day. I look at our luggage and wonder if planning to use public transport all the way really was the best idea we ever had. It will be long, it will be hot and it will be chaotic. I know I had a ton of good arguments to convince ourselves but right now I start doubting and wonder if it really is the best way to start this new chapter. The bus station is chaotic and the bus is late. Are we going to survive?
Fast forward 70 hours. We just arrived in Mzuzu and that means that our bus ride is over. It was not always easy and we had our moments but all in all the ride went smoother and better than I ever even dared to hope for. The girls did really well and have shown us that they are patient and resilient little travelers. I had a bag filled with activities to keep boredom at bay and stickers where the biggest hit. If Doris would get paid for the amount of stickers she stuck on paper she would be a millionaire by now (We are also millionaires here, the Malawian Kwatcha is not terribly strong). That it went smoother than expected does not mean that it was without some exciting and some less exciting unexpected events. I think about having to unpack the entire bus (and massive trailer) for customs at the border in Malawi with seemingly no system which obviously resulted in utter chaos (in our eyes). The fact that it started raining and the entire road transformed in a gigantic slippery mudbath did not help either but 5 hours later everything was packed and we were on the road again. The girls loved the break from sitting in the bus and danced, played shop with other kids and got their first taste of life in Malawi as we explored the little local market and bought some mandazis (a tasty diep fried dough ball.). The trip might have felt less eventful if we would have been able to understand Chichewa. Eventhough the bus operator is South African, the main language on the bus was Chichewa. A lot was said but we usually only got minimal translation which often made us feel a little lost or unsure what to do. We would, for example, have liked to know that we were to change to a different bus in Lilongwe before we settled for the night and sang the girls to sleep instead of only hearing it 5 minutes before we had to be out. (And you can imagine that your stuff is rather spread out after having been on the same but for 2 days already.). Hartmut made sure that our stuff would get in the new bus and not dissapear with a new 'owner' while I stayed in the bus with the girls. The bus driver thought that it was best if he would lock me in, so that nobody would bother us. Quite sweet but without air condition or windows that can open while.it is pitch dark outside also a bit claustrofobic. The lights in the bus were in so I felt a little trapped in a fish tank. A very hot gish tank. It took 3 hours to move everybody's luggage to the new bus so you can imagine that I was ready to go ofter that was done. But it all could have been worse. We heard stories of break downs and accidents. Being stuck in remote towns without water and money for 18 hours.
We arrived, we are all still in one piece (a rather stiff piece) and still happy to be in each others space. We have added memories, impressions and stories to our books and would not have wanted to miss this wonderful experience. The landscapes were stunning, the border posts fascinating. Sophie and Doris loved all our undivided and undistracted attention that we coyld give them and I enjoyed being together as a family and the idea that this is our future; us four, our suitcases and many new adventures.
We have not seen much of Malawi yet. The sun set while we waited at the border and we drove North through the night. We were close to the end of our bus journey when the sun came over the misty mountains to reveal a stunning scenery. The greenest hills you can imagine, dotted with trees and small villages. I cannot wait to get to know life in this beautiful place.