Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This is Africa

After a luxurious rest day in Chitimba, filled with pig roasts, volleyball and lazing around on the beach, we got back on the road and headed to Mzuzu. The ride was beautiful to start, but then the headwinds started up and all I could think about were my few upcoming days off with Erin. A side-adventure was completely called for, what with everything starting to seem tedious and routine. It´s funny, I can usually lighten up with the thought that, wow, I´m in Malawi, but sometimes the wind blows to hard, or I just get sick of everyone´s competition to get up earlier and earlier.

The first ten km of the day were up an incredibly step hill, and so I rode with Fiona and Rana. We got Fiona´s life story out of her. Very white-bread and nice. We then all continued on with what we´ve done with our lives post 20. Whatever it takes to get you through the day. At the top of the hill we came upon a little wooden shack/shop where we bought cold drinks and guarded our energy bars against the store owner who was insistent that we give them to her. She then started talking about us in Chichewa to the neighbour. We wouldn´t have known except she kept pointing at us and rolling her eyes.

I rode down the hill with Tom, doing about 75 most of the way. We went through beautifully farmed valleys, passing by women in brightly-coloured dress, hampers on their heads and babies on their backs.

After lunch, the rolling uphills started and I waited to ride with Fiona and Rana again. By the last thirty kilometres I was done, and just was in no mood to ride. Fortunately Rana turned my mood around by singing bad eighties songs with me. She started up “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, and I was both shocked and upset that I knew all the words. It was all I needed to get me through the ride. One of the big advantages of riding with others.

When we got into town none of the banks would work for me. Again. I grabbed my last 200$ to exchange in case of emergency, leaving some aside for any visas, and decided to get Rob to pull money out of my account back home and send it via Western Union.

Camp was at a hotel, and dinner was spag ball (Spaghetti bolognaise), with a surprise desert (ice cream), and so everyone was excited. Then staff braced them for the news – because of flooding the route was being changed to go through the middle of the country instead of alongside the lake. People were disappointed. There were also complaints coming from American Ann. She seemed a little burnt-out of late, but then let us know that she was really sick of all the racers being congradulated, but none of the people who are out there every day trying their best. As one of those uncongradulated people, I didn´t quite see why it was that important, but I put it down to a cultural thing – it seems far more ingrained in the States that everyone should receive a pat on the back.

I went to bed and sorted out a pack for the morning. A new and very exciting adventure lay ahead! Attempting local transport in Africa!

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