9. Zambia and Malawi

September 21, 2009 - Beira, Mozambique


So we left nagging street sellers and walked the 4 km to the Zambian border. We were able to help a mother carry some of her belongings in exchange for advice on taxi services. We caught a minibus into Livingstone passing Elephant nonchalantly chomping trees alongside the road, apparently a common sighting. We were immediately struck by the start contrast. The minibus departed when it was full – western full, not African full; money changes hands without concern for who might see, people seeming confident in the lack of crime; everyone speaks English and is keen to assist and add their advice without charge; the taxi even offered to wait for us outside while we changed currency. It was a bit surreal. We booked into a newly opened backpackers and managed to have a dorm to ourselves. We had a market supper and booked a bus ride for the next morning to Lusaka.

We left the next morning at 7:30, punctual and only slightly cramped. We even got a small cake and a fruit juice thrown in as part of the deal. At 2:20pm we arrived in Lusaka hot but together and found the first rip in our backpack cover. Now I feel like we are travelling!

We walked for ages to find a backpackers. We found Chachacha about 5km later and were informed that the campsite, though seemingly vacant, was in fact full and we would need to stay in a dorm. FOR $30!!! Blake left me there to look around town for an alternative. Nothing could be found and we realized that everything in Zambia is expensive. We were both tired and upset and feeling like our money would run out before planned and for the first time I wanted to pack it up and go home. Blake and I had a bit of a fight and I am convinced, though he adamantly denies it, that all that kept Blake from ditching me there was his promise to his mother-in-law not to. After a heart-to-heart and a regaining of our lost sense of humor, we reconciled and went out for a night in the deserted town. I bought some earrings and we had pizza for supper and then headed back to our expensive accommodation. We decided to cut our Zambia time short and took a 13 hour bus ride into Lilongwe. We got to the bus station by 5am and left at 8:30am. Ugh! In those 3 hours wait I had to visit the loo 3 times. The charge was 100 kwacha per time but after paying for the first one I managed to charm the doorman to allow me a free second entry as I had no money then, at the 3rd visit I sheepishly showed some money I had  managed to borrow when he insisted I pay. Our earlier arrival had secure pole poition for us and Blake was able to stretch his legs out the whole way. A little girl, Deborah, sat behind me and played with my hair. By the end she had worked her way into my arms and fell asleep there. She had an endearing habit of playing with my ear which made me think of 2 other girls that I love. It was a pleasant, though cockroach infested, ride. We arrived in Lilongwe by 8pm and followed Deborahs mom to a resthouse next to the station. The place was cheap but clean with drop toilets and a dipped bed. Nothing had seemed so welcoming before, we were so tired! We woke at 6am to a thump on thump on our door bidding us farewell from Deborah and her mom.

We left Lilongwe at noon and caught a rickety bus heading to monkey bay. Blake had to stand for a lot of the trip and with chickens sqwacking overhead and regular stops we were happy to feel African life around us. We shared some chips with the children across from us and they shared their peanuts with us and we enjoyed the camaraderie.

We were aiming for a lakeside lodge that used to be called K-Lodge but then changed it’s name. I had been there in 2004 with Jas, Anita, Pam, Dave and Susannah and then again with Jenna Lea, Lee Ann, Matteo, Oli and Roger in 2005 so had a good idea of where it was. I asked the whole bus to help me find Nkula Lodge. After much animated discussions and guessings from the rest of the passengers I watched Nkudzi lodge turnoff pass and knew that that was it. We got off at the turnoff with well wishes from the bus and began the dusty, hot, 3km walk to the lakeside. A cyclist passed us and offered to take our packs. After a half-hearted hesitation we loaded him up and watched our bags disappear in the distance ahead of us, suddenly wondering how wise we had been. Not 2 minutes later a car rolled past and offered us a ride. We climbed in and were duly reprimanded for our naivety in letting our bags out of site until we saw our trusty cyclist, Mr Isaac, ahead of us. Thank you God, Again!

Nkudzi Lodge was every bit the paradise I remember. Sigh! The fish eagles were calling overhead and we made ourselves at home. Blake treated me to a night in a fancy chalet for my birthday and I reveled in the fan, the cushy bed, the shower and the matching décor. We had a lovely supper and were visited by a local band. Blake’s family phoned for my birthday and I felt thoroughly spoilt. Mmmm

I woke to my 29th birthday to smses and presents from home. Blake had managed to source camembert, milo and an English, up-to-date Ideas magazine. I spent the rest of the day enjoying doing nothing, reading and enjoying calls. We moved back into our tent for the night. What a treat of a day!

We left for monkey bay the next afternoon, this time hitching the 3km to the main road on the back of a bakkie(called a matola here). We got into Monkey Bay at about 4 and found a newly opened backpackers, Mufasa. We pitched our tent and felt the mosquitoes descend.

We spent the next day in the airy eating area reading and catching up on diaries. We thought of swimming but, when we asked another tourist she said: “sure you can swim but just take a Bilharzia tablet afterwards”. We refrained and instead watched monkeys wreak havoc around the camp. In one attempt to chase them off, a stray catty (slingshot) stone tore a hole in our tent. Bleek!

On Friday we arranged to meet Julie-Ann and Billy Bray (Julie-Ann is my second cousin and lives in Mangochi in Malawi as missionaries). They joined us in Monkey Bay at their friend’s house and we spent Friday night enjoying catching up and meeting another of their friends out from South Africa, Jacques. We enjoyed swimming with the children swarming on the beach and playing volleyball with them. Billy and Julie-Ann have 2 girls, Abigail (3) and Bethany (10 months), who are thoroughly gorgeous. Abi’s little blond head could be spotted fully surrounded by brown heads all touching and playing with her. It was such a precious sight.

We left on Saturday afternoon and headed back to their home in Mangochi via a resort to take a cooling dip.

On Sunday we joined them at church, kindly translated to help us understand. I helped Julie-Ann with her Sunday school class under the tree outside.

We had a tasty roast chicken lunch and headed off at 2:30pm to meet with all the other Mangochi missionaries for a time of inspiration and encouragement. At 7 we headed over to the Pastor Henry’s house where they had kindly invited us to join them for supper. What a full day. We settled down for a deep and refreshing sleep.

Today we hope to leave for Mount Mulanje to sleep at the base and start the 3 day climb tomorrow morning.


Thank you all for you thoughts for my birthday. I felt thoroughly loved and terribly homesick.  Lots of love to you all


Special love to Caren and Daniel Naude who got married on the 19th of September. What an exciting time for you both! Revel in each other and enjoy the adventure. Wish we could have been there. See you when we get back! Love you



walking across Zambian border
interesting motto, bus to Lilongwe
Ross and I leaving on our Kayak expedition
Another African Sunset


September 21, 2009
oooh yes! It's so great to catch up with you and learn more about your adventure together and with Him. I enjoy this unfolding reality story much more than even 7de laan. We've got this Cape To Cairo map which I keep with me to follow your meanderings. I'm so glad you have spent time with Julie-Ann and Billy and their 2 munchkins. Lots of love and encouragement from both of us. Dad and Mom.
Jodi and Jeroen:
September 21, 2009
Hello you two...
Levi asked me the other day... "where is the man with the beard that chases us around the house?" you mean Blake, I said... "yes" he replied "when are he and Rachel coming back? When will we see them again?
it was so endearing - he keeps telling the family that you are travelling through Africa and you will be away for 8 months!!
We miss you so much, and love reading about all your adventures - please don't leave your bags again, the stories are stressing me out! All is well our side - the church is planting into the city - the boys are all gorgeous and keep me saturated in joy.
Take care of yourselves and strength for the trying times! x us
September 21, 2009
Rach, am so glad that you had a really special birthday and was spoilt by Blake! Love hearing about your exciting travels and all the ups and downs. Hope you are learning so much about life, love and everything else.

Much love,

PS - I have to concur with your that your blog is much better than 7de Laan (or any other tv programme really)!!
September 22, 2009
Oh no, a tear in your bag (accidental or purposefully made by someone attempting to take the contents out?) and a tear in your tent! I'm sure you must have a little sewing kit with you though. Shame the Zambia experience was a bit of a disappointment... and glad to here Malawi is quite the opposite. Lots of love!
September 22, 2009
(I mean hear)
September 22, 2009
YAY!!! We found you!!!!
Ricci and I have been missing you terriblly. So sorry we missed your birthday Rach :-( but was so glad to read you were thoughly spoilt :-)

Im sitting at Driftwood Cafe....remember the place? I just finished catching up on all your blogs. Such a fun...and sometimes hair-raising read. Im sure Ricci has filled you in on our special day on Sunday when we dedicated Madi back to God...cant wait to show you guys all the pics.

Travel safe! Missing you stax.
The Roodts
Willem Greeff:
September 24, 2009
Hey Blakey...so your dad tells me you got crazy!!!

Enjoy mate! I'll try and explain to dad that this is something young people do!

Put up some more pics!
Looking forward!

Nelson and Rosemary Matsie:
September 30, 2009
Hi Rachel and Blake,
Rachel you migt want to expalin to Blake who we are from Maseru United Church. I am with your father right now here in Pretoria and he has just told us about your crazy adventure. We will be folowing from now on with great interest. wish you all the best and we will be praying for you as well.

Nelson and Rosemary
Pam Berry:
September 30, 2009
Hey special friends...giving your bags to a complete stranger, 'mara why'? I love your innocence and seeing how you are handling this adventure!!
Love you so so so much. Special Berry hug to you both!!
October 2, 2009
Hey hey hey.... a rip in your bag... amateurs!
My heart is a little sore that Zambia is more friendly than Zim... never used to be like that... desperate times. Ballances arriving here end of next week so will get a report of your time there; you can turn my compost heap in Obs when you get back. Loving the blog... missing you guys.... I enjoyed the conflict report! Nice.
the jones family:
October 6, 2009
HEY !!!

wow you guys have gone so far .. !!! .. its awesome . i havent read the last couple entries but im gonna print them out and take them home for heike to read ! .. awesome guys look forward to catching up on your adventures.. it looks so rad! .. love you guys .. keep safe . Dylan , heike , anna- rose and sophie-mae !
October 7, 2009
wow kids, loving the crazy, lovely, wild stories! Rach are you sure you're not pregnant, that seems like a lot of wee-ing for the average girl - hee hee. Yes and i agree, no more giving the bags away, although i can imagine how tired you were feeling to have done it, i think i would have done the same.
love you guys!
love love love
helen jones:
October 7, 2009
your adventure sounds like an amazing experience, enjoy every moment - even the times when you want to stamp your feet and go home!I remember being in malawi when i was 9, swimming with brightly coloured fish in the lake and hiking up mt mulanje with my parents..... keep exploring - and don't give your bags to people -please!!! helen xxxx
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