The title of the blog is also the name of this particular section! I suppose Malawi is famous for its "sunrise" gin but I wouldn't really know anything about that! Sorry for the delay in posting a blog, we haven't been anywhere that had fast internet since my last post! We arrived in Malawi on March 27th and we have only three more days left in this country. Malawi is known as the "friendliest country" in Africa. So far, I would agree. This is rated as the poorest country that we will travel through (even poorer than Ethiopia supposedly) but people wish you well, say a greeting as you pass them, and seem to have good dispositions. I will say that there does seem to be a lot of drinking going on during the day and we notice lots of kids sitting around during what should be a school day. Hmmmm.....
What struck me first about Malawi were the rice fields and the kids. Entering the northern part of the country it is relatively flat because of Lake Malawi. So, it is swampy and low-lying which are perfect for rice cultivation. I certainly wouldn't want to be a rice farmer with having to stand in mud water up to your knees for hours at a time in a rice paddy. Fishing is obviously huge for Malawians as Lake Malawi is quite the large lake-blue, sandy, and deep. As we pass small fishing villages you smell the fish, and almost taste it as it is drying on thatched roofs. Periodically while riding, you pass a local or two who are carrying a small load of fish on a stick. And, bus drivers hang their catch on their side mirror hoping to sell their fish along their driving route to earn extra cash. Speaking of which in the local paper we read how "Malawi women sell their bodies for fish." I clipped the article for the shock value: I guess you do what you have to do-prostitution for food.
Now to the kids. Well, it almost seemed like a repeat of Ethiopia: kids lining the streets and shouting in union "hello," "azungu (white person)," or "give me my money." It can get a bit frustrating especially if you are trying to have a conversation while biking. They totally want our attention, which is understandable. I will say that they have dirty clothes on but beautiful smiles. Both the girls and boys have short-cropped hair. One person we talked to said that there are a lot of orphans in Malawi due to the Aids epidemic. This could explain why a lot of kids aren't attending school: there is no one to force them.
The biking in Malawi is on good roads-they are not super smooth but nonetheless it is easier biking than Tanzania. Everything is green with the rainy season ending and the rivers are swollen with some rain still falling. I imagine there would be some great white water rafting. The biking in Malawi has also been extremely tough. In an unexpected way, I would say that it has been the hardest riding for me on the whole tour: even tougher than the mountains of Ethiopia. Why? Well, we have had headwind. For all the bikers out there, you know how much harder you have to push. And, there has been a LOT of climbing-no one warned us about that. I would say that the second hardest day of the tour coincided with the second most accumulative elevation climbed in a single day. I'll be posting that profile. I also have been feeling sick since Chitimba Beach. I couldn't even enjoy the beach day as I was achy, weak, and awfully tired. I do thank my blessings that I was feeling my worst on a rest day though so I could sleep or rest. After 3 days of feeling "not quite right" I am back to normal. I made it through the really hard day but thankfully Ashleigh rode with me and the "girl-talk" got my mind off the pain. Still EFI (Every Fabulous Inch)! I feel there is some pressure because I am the only woman. People keep asking me, "are you still EFI?" Despite the mounting pressure, I keep saying to myself "one day at a time and if I am vomiting and have a fever I will not ride." It is better to be smart! I think our bodies are not recovering as easily right now with almost three months of riding completed. Even small cuts are getting infected where that normally wouldn't be the case.
One more interesting thing about Malawi: the BILLBOARD signs. The funniest one I have seen is "Vasectomies are for men who love their spouses." They also have a lot of "speed thrills, but kills" signs all over-it is a curvy country. Over the break in Tanzania, some people went to Uganda and took several pics of a billboard sign that said "Don't have cross-generational sex"'; it had a picture of an older man and asked "you wouldn't want your daughter to be involved with him, would you?" Cracked me right up!
Oh-in terms of group dynamics, another relationship has started! I won't mention names but it involves two of the "younglings!" They seem to be doing it right though; they got to know each other for 2 months before they started their romance. The group dynamics are quite interesting and I am genuinely looking forward to analyzing my data.
Well, I have to keep this blog short because of a bike donation ceremony going on today at 3:00 pm. 28 bikes have been purchased from the money that I raised and will be donated to two local charities: CPAR and Coopi Maleeza. Many thanks again to everyone who donated money for a bike! Bikes really are crucial here and are a major means of transportation for a lot of people!
Oh and that is me holding an extremely dangerous but dead snake: a puff adder that the locals had killed with a machete!
I hope everyone is well!