So we’re in Malawi! Everyone we’ve met has raved about this country so we’ve been looking forward to getting here.
The border crossing was pretty painless despite costing over $200USD for the three of us 🤯
Malawi is considerably poorer than its surrounding countries and the poorest county I’ve ever visited.
We rode through villages towards the capital, Lilongwe watching young children and women pumping water and walking for miles with litres of water on their heads back to the village, everyone stopping and starting at us as we pass by. What was once interesting and intriguing is now becoming uncomfortable and almost embarrassing as it’s so evident how much we have and how little they have.
We arrive in Lilongwe for the night and spend about two hours riding around trying to find a place to stay. Everything was a lot more expensive than we’d expected and it got pretty tiring riding in circles trying to find a good price. We realised pretty soon that paying for things on our credit card was not going to be an option here so we then had to try to find an ATM that accepted MasterCard and didn’t charge a fee to withdraw money – this we didn’t find so we had to swallow the $5 fee to withdraw a max of $100.
The cheapest place we found to stay was $20 AUD – still more expensive than we’d hoped but our patience had worn thin.
The electricity had gone out by the time we checked in which gave the place a more dreary feel that it may have otherwise but it was a good indication of what was to come…
We were given a choice of two rooms, both very basic with concrete falling off the walls. We chose one, unloaded and got changed. The toilet seat was cracked which gave me an interesting pinching feeling on my thighs but at least it had a seat. It was when I heard the mosque start it’s call to prayer (I can’t believe I’m hearing this so soon into the trip…) that I realised we were missing a window. Usually this wouldn’t be a problem however malaria is pretty rife here and I apparently have really tasty blood.
So we decided to move into the other room that was offered to us. We move our gear – 2 helmets, 2 bags, 2 pairs of boots, 2 riding suits and my clothes bag…it takes two of us a couple of trips.
The guy working at ‘reception’ then tells us the toilet doesn’t work in this room so he wants us to go to another room however it wasn’t clean so he needed to call a cleaner (presumably a woman because it’s not a man’s job to clean here).
We wanted to go out for some food so asked if we could leave our gear in the room until we got back.
This is where we should have asked if the lock worked.
‘the lock is broken’
‘ohh…’ some fumbling with the lock….a but more fumbling…
‘its broken…you won’t make it work…’
‘is there somewhere else we can leave our stuff?’
‘yes, follow me’
So we move all our stuff again to another room that look exactly the same as the others.
‘great, why don’t we just stay in this room? It looks fine to us’
‘erm….the toilet doesn’t work’
Of course it doesn’t. We go to leave and lock the door. The lock worked however due to someone forcing the door open one to many times you could just push the door open.
‘excuse me, this door doesn’t lock either’
‘ohh….’ fumbles with the lock
‘the lock works, the door just doesn’t stay closed’
‘can we just put our stuff in the room you want to put us in and you clean around it?’ (as if the floors were going to get cleaned!)
We decided to check the lock, door and window situation before moving all our gear into the room.
The door didn’t really close but if you forced it we made it lock. Success.
4 rooms in one ‘hotel’!
We found somewhere local to drink and eat and watch the world cup. We got befriended by a local policeman who was off duty and insisted on eating some bbq with us. We don’t think he actually paid for anything however he quickly accepted a beer from us. He gave us his business card which looked like it had been hand cut and sat with us and answered any questions we had about Malawi.
It had been a long day so we declined going out to drink somewhere else with our policeman friend and returned to our room.
We got bitten by mosquitos.
There was no toilet seat.
And, despite being told there was, no hot water…no water in fact.
Yesterday we rode to Cape Maclear, a peninsula on the huge Lake Malawi and found a cool backpackers to relax, wash some clothes and watch the world cup for a couple of days 😁