Sunday, May 3, 2009

Trip South Part 2

Continuing where I left off...
The bus stopped once around noon for lunch and we met the first two foreigners. They were a British couple around our age. He had been working in Kenya for six weeks and she had been working in Tanzania for six weeks. They were on their way to Lilongwe and then a two week stay in Malawi. The bus stayed there for about 45 minutes and then headed off for the border again. Driving through southern Tanzania I think we were in some sort of reserve because I saw: elephants, buffalo, giraffes, impala, a huge baboon running down the road and maybe a couple of rhino but I’m not sure. We reached the border around 10:30 after riding for 16 hours in the bus. By this time we had picked up about 5 or 6 aisle riders at different police checkpoints. One of these beloved aisle riders had been riding beside me for about four hours and thought that laying his head in my lap or even half sitting in my lap was perfectly fine:). Neil, lucky bum, didn’t have that experience. At the border most of the passengers got off and stayed at local ‘motels’. All of us foreign folk were spending the night on the bus. I had just stretched out to sleep across both seats when the guy we hadn’t met came up and asked if he could sit by me. His name was Alan and he had just fallen asleep when he woke up to find his seatmate with his arm in Alan’s bag. The guy’s excuse was that he was trying to keep Alan’s water bottle from falling on the ground. The only problem with that is that his water bottle had already been on the ground for a while:) After an interesting night’s sleep on the bus and some money exchanging the next morning we finally drove into the Tanzanian side of the border control. That part of the border went flawlessly and after a little while we drove to the Malawian side. Here after getting our passports stamped we sat around and watched the whole bus be unloaded for customs inspection. They probably had it unloaded by 10 and then it didn’t appear to get checked until the middle of the afternoon. My seatmate, a Malawian guy headed home, told me we would leave around 6 p.m. and then get to Lilongwe around 4 or 5 the next morning. So much for one night and two days. During our day long wait at the border a Malawian official came out and asked me, the Canadian guy Alan, and the British guy to come with him because he was ‘Intelligence’. He asked each of us a series of questions and wanted to know the likelihood of us coming back to live in Malawi. I don’t know how much intelligence was present at this ‘intelligence’ meeting, but at least he didn’t hassle us at all.
True to prediction the bus left a little after 6 and started its all night drive to Lilongwe. The sad part is that we didn’t get to see any of the beautiful Malawian countryside at night. Leaving the border the passenger list was different than before. Quite a few people had just ridden to the border and then they sold even more tickets for people to go to Lilongwe than that had gotten off. I had a different aisle friend this time who was slightly better but still thought sharing my seat would be a great idea:)
We got to Lilongwe around five in the morning. The night had been uneventful except for this one song that had played over and over again on the bus’s speakers. It was talking about a Maria, diarrhea, or malaria. I never quite could figure it out. We got a taxi over to the AXA bus company and bought tickets to Blantyre. The bus was going to leave in 45 minutes so we just sat and waited. We had heard that the AXA buses were really nice but in my mind that meant there wouldn’t be people in the aisles and 50 pound bags of merchandise shoved under the seats. When the bus rolled in to pick us up I was shocked. It was a brand new Mercedes. We were allowed to stow our bags UNDER the bus and we proceeded onto the bus to find a perfectly clean interior complete with TVs and foot rests. There was a movie in English, breakfast service, and a bathroom in the back. This bus ride was better than a lot of flights that I’ve been on:) Once we got to Blantyre we hung out with a couple of SMs from Walla Walla who are teaching this year. The next day we went out to Malamulo Hospital where I was born to visit some people and look around. This was the first time I’d been back since we left when I was two. We spent a couple nights there and got to meet some old family friends. Then back to Blantyre where we stayed with some friends of Neil’s family for a couple of nights. On Saturday morning they dropped us off at the airport and we flew down to Joburg where my parents picked us up and took us to the camp meeting they were attending.
The next day we traveled to Maputo and a few days after that I headed with my dad up north to check on some stuff for Maranatha that he had to do. That’s all in the next blog:) Sorry that this was so long but maybe being extremely wordy in this makes up for hardly blogging the past few months.


Katie said...

Thanks for all the info about your trip! I'm just flying to Maputo, so I have it easy. I hope.

The other day on the dala-dala a lady forced me to sit on her lap. And then she wanted me to come to her house. When I refused, she insisted on coming to MY house. I finally convinced her that I had to work, but she wanted my phone number. All this time she is holding my hand and stroking my hair. A little too friendly, I say....

Phoebe said...

Wow, I'm impressed Justin! That was a very verbose blog entry. (I think verbose typically has a negative connotation, but I mean in it a completely positive way. Just for clarification.)

I'm glad you and Neil reached Mozambique safely. It sounds like a really long trip though! I guess you must be used to extensive time periods now, but it makes me antsy just thinking about it. The longest non-stop trip I've taken was 18 hours down to California, and I slept most of the time. That's the beauty of not knowing how to drive. Yet. Unfortunately, I think it is in my father's immediate plans to teach me. I suppose it is a good skill to know, but it's just so nerve-racking. And plain vanilla (I just found out that is an actual adjective meaning "having no special or extra features; ordinary). But it sounds like you've successfully utilized your driving knowledge in Africa, which goes to show how internationally applicable it is.

Anyways, I just wanted to say I hope you enjoy your last few weeks in Africa, and I'll see you in a month or two at Big Lake!!!


Katie said...

How do I get a visa for Mozambique?!? I'm coming tomorrow!

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