Iringa to Chitimba, Malawi; Another long, boring driving day; Halloween pineapples; Crocodiles and bilharzia; Beach drunkenness

If anything, today’s drive was more boring that yesterday’s - with only a couple of variations. It was bloody freezing when we woke up - Iringa is quite high up. We all shivered for the first two hours of the drive, and since we’d, again, had to get up stupidly early, no one was in the best mood. To make matters worse, my iPod’s battery had run down yesterday and was charging in the truck’s cab where I couldn’t get it, so I had to listen to horrible hip-hop until we stopped for brunch.

We crossed the border from Tanzania into Malawi with a minimum of trouble. None of us needed a visa, so the formalities were quick. The only annoying thing was the intrusive vendors. They always begin their pitch the same way: “Bananas, my friend? “Water, my friend?” My friend, my friend, my friend. I tell you, I’ve never had so many friends until I came to Africa, it makes me feel truly loved and valued, it really does.

Tonight, of course, was Halloween. Sheryl and I both live for Halloween - it’s our favourite holiday by far. I love the spookinesss and the sense that reality has come a bit unglued. This was the strangest Halloween I’ve ever spent, though. For one thing, it was hot. We were all in shorts and t-shirts. And of course there wwas no candy, no costumes. No spookiness at all, unless you count lurking mosquitoes. We did the best we could, though. Someone on the truck had a bag of oranges and we passed them around for everyone to draw jack-o-lantern faces on. We’d brought some Halloween decorations all the way from Paris - orange and black streamers and a big bag of little plastic spiders. And in an inspired leap of brilliance, Sheryls suggested carving pineapples. That worked amazingly - the candlelight shone through the diamond shapes in the pineapples’ skiin and looked excellent. Pineapples are definitely going to be added to our Halloween repertoire in the future. I made up a little Happy Halloween banner and stuck it to the truck, and the streamers blew out to great effect in the wind off the lake. We all listened to Halloween music on the truck’s sound system during dinner. I wouldn’t call it a great Halloween, but we did the best we could, and everyone played along (or at least indulged us) so I’ll call it a success.

The campground was on the shore of Lake Malawi, one of the world’s largest lakes. It’s sometimes called the “calendar” lake, since it’s 365 miles long and 52 miles wide. We’d been warned to avoid the water for two reasons - crocodiles and bilharzia (some sort of parasite). Neither sort of beastie frightened us away from wading in up to our knees, though. It was a beautiful night - hot and breezy, with a jet black sky full of more stars than I’ve ever seen. Sheryl and I, both a little tipsy, wandered down to the water with Amir, a nice Egyptian-Australian from one of the other overland trucks who we keep running into. We talked down there for an hour, feeling the water around our shins and the sand between our toes, waiting for the crocodiles to come and bite our legs off. At one point there was a huge meteor that crossed the sky slowly, with a huge tail of yellow fire. I’d take it for an omen if I was that type of person, but I’m not - I’ll just take it for something rare and beautiful.

Flourish

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Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
This travelogue comprises 16,426 photographs and 402,515 words in 307 dispatches written from 335 places in 52 countries on 6 continents around the world.
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