I realize it is a little late to be relating to you the details of my Christmas travels but I figured it was a good enough story you wouldn’t mind waiting for it. So here is my Christmas Eve itinerary as I traveled from Msulira to the place of Peace Corps convergence about 200km away at another volunteers house on the lake shore.
7:00: Start sitting on the side of the M18 waiting for something with wheels to pass.
8:00: Found the wheels
8:10: Arrive in Malomo to find more wheels.
9:00: Wheels that were found finally start rolling toward Nkhotakhota.
11:30: Wheels arrive at Nkhotakhota.
12:00: Big, Fast Bus comes then passes as it is too full to take more passangers.
1:20: Big, Fast Bus #2 comes and goes as the first.
2:00: Gave up on Big, Fast Bus and took as twice before crowded pickup truck beds.
3:30: Arrive in Dawangwa.
4:00: Another matola
5:00: Matola driver pawns me off on to a semi-truck not much slower than the matola.
6:30: Arrive in Tukombo just after nightfall.
6:45: Walked to Melanie’s House.
6:46: Drink in hand!!!
Christmas morning woke up early to take a swim in Lake Malawi in the light rain which turned to pouring. Beautiful! Walking back to the house I was stricken with mango greed. I’d pick up one only to drop two I was already carrying. Shirt, skirt, chitenge and my friend’s hands all were over flowing and I ate every single one. Melanie the night before had stayed up and painted some black socks her mom had sent her with our names and Christmas symbols and stuffed them with goodies also sent by her mom crystal light, chips, gum, chocolate, Malawian candy, granola bars, complete with a mango in the toe. John brought a santa hat so we all sat on his lap as he gave us our stockings.
The Rest of the day was spent connecting with family from home and cooking delicious food like mac and cheese, boxed stuffing, mashed potatoes, salad, chip dip, cheese, crackers, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole; most of which was curtsey of home. Though the neighbors brought a huge cut of beef and we slaughtered two chickens I don’t think I will soon forget pat’s face as he was frantically sawing at the chicken hanging from the tree who refused to let it’s neck be separated from it’s body. Not to shabby of a way to spend my first Christmas away from family.
The next once again drizzly morning the 8 of us packed up (our parade would turn many heads before it dissipated at the end) and walked out to the bus stop but because we were so many before we even got there a minibus going the other way stopped kicked everybody off, turned around and took us to Mzuzu. Took a while, but around 1:00 we got there had lunch and soft serve ice cream…..oh ice cream. After arguing trying to get a fair price with conductors for about at hour we found a bus at the depot that took us in the pissing down rain down hairpin turns in late afternoon into nightfall. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t scary. To give you an even better of what a motley crew we really were. On the way down the escarpment we began playing that “Do you know where to get off?” “No, I thought you knew!” “Who would know?” “Emily?” “You got her #?” “No.” “Hey lyn you got emily’s #?” And thus we arrived at Chiweta at night in an African monsoon. We took refuge in the local police station of this little unfamiliar village. Upon asking if there was an empty structure we could seek refugee in for the night. The policeman, who by chance was on duty, took our token Chitimbuka speakers to a local priest who opened the doors of his church to us.
The little priest, who was very concerned for our well-fair, led us up the escarpment a little ways to a, by Malawian standards, fairly affluent church that was still contained remnants of the days Christmas mass included three different colors of toilet paper stung from the ceiling and flowers. We kindly turned down offers of food though agreed to some buckets of water and spent the evening watched from our amazing vantage pointed the lightning storm that was pounding the lake.
The next day we made tea and brushed the pegs to an audience (once again the first of many times this would occur) and took off along the dirt path that would lead us south along the lake shore and with hopes to the magical place all PCV must see before going home, Rawarwe.
To be continued......