Wednesday April 12th:
It was tough to leave this morning, as I had expected. I saw Innocent brushing his teeth facing the wall in the morning and I said good morning to him… he replied “good morning” but kept his head down and facing the wall. I thought I’d say goodbye to him later but I didn’t see him again before we left and even though a lot of people were still sleeping when we took off, the kids who were up were chatting with us and hugging us as we made our way to the car. There was a send-off dance for us last night, they did a traditional circle dance with one person beating a drum and everyone clapping then Sher and I became the focus at the end and the kids all ran up and yelled something about a lion (Simba!) then “ROAR, ROAR!” in each of our faces with claw hands. It was awkward but hilarious and they were so cute doing it. Then every single kid gave us a big hug and said thank you to us. So we did get a proper goodbye at least. Baby Zawadi (the adorable one year old baby of the house) hugged Sher’s leg during all the hugging but he wouldn’t let go. Sher picked him up…. for the first time! I had been so attached to Zawadi for most of our time here but I never shared him with Sher! Haha!
We were lucky to get a ride from Freddy, a neighbour who works at the house, to Nanenane to catch the direct bus to Lake Malawi’s bordering town on the Tanzanian side, Matema. Our Italian friend Daniel had left a few days prior to us for Matema to stop and relax before crossing over to the Malawi side and renewing his Visa. Daniel took the longer connecting route but he found out about the direct bus for us and made sure to tell us the time and where to catch it, which helped a lot. Cristina had to take one of the kids to the hospital to get a rash checked so Freddy was driving them and passing Nanenane (just outside or Uyole) anyways. We said more goodbyes at the bus station once Cristina and Freddy helped us make sure we found the correct bus and then we realized we were half an hour early so we just hung out on a bench to wait for the 9:30am departure bus to be ready. The bus left on
”African time”, just after 11am. The entire humid, sweaty ride was on the same schedule of whatever they feel like… stopping almost every 10 minutes to load up people on the sides on the road or to stop in a hot village for a long time while the crazy driver kept honking the horn for his two conductors to come back. They’d eventually return with more passengers and then there was some price bartering before they would board. Well, at least Sher and I had two seats all to ourselves for the whole ride. I was beside the window and I could control opening and closing it which was such a relief here since people on buses here always close the windows and it gets too hot!
I was so happy to get off the bus more than 5 hours later (according to Google Maps, it should take less than 3 hours!) and be greeted by Daniel’s tour guide friend, Brighton. He took us to our hotel on motorbike since it’s 3km away from the centre and then Daniel met us for dinner out here. It feels like paradise at this ecolodge, there are only 7 huts and everything is about conservation. Each hut faces the beach of Lake Malawi and there’s a little private patio for us to hang out (that’s where I’ve been typing my blogs) with a perfect amount of breeze and shade. Love it here!
Sher had the better view of the driver’s perspective so this is what he wrote- We got the full African experience today. Saw chickens being carried on the bus in carry-on baskets, multiple times actually. A man walked on with a litre-size container full of petrol and put it down on the ground. The old rusty bus I am sure had thousands of little sparks going off on these rocky, unpaved roads. The smell of petrol was immense but we tried not to think about it and I thought if anything happens, we are closest to the exit. Lucky for us, he got off after a couple of stops. The entire ride, the driver had a tv with blasting music videos, most of them were gospel and had usually three guys doing simple choreography. It was so loud that I could barely hear Mariam talking beside me sometimes. It took forever to get here to Lake Malawi but at least we are here now after a long, bumpy ride and now we can relax.