When reading this, please keep in mind that I am not educated in English, so there may be some surprises. Pirkko said to me that i should write in English, even shortly, but how could you write shortly about a country like Malawi.
1.9. 2016 at 6:33am Kajaani, Finland
Until to Rome things were rolling western civilized manner, exactly on schedule, but then ...
It was supposed to be less than an hour stopover, but one passenger claimed to have lost his suitcase: he does not find it in the plane. The air hostesses look for all the places, after all, all the passengers were forced to take their things off the shelves and the air hostesses checked, whether any extra was left there. After all, no bag was found. People’s calmness surprised: the plane was full, the Boeing 747 can fit a lot of people, 9 seats in a row. No one was nervous. An hour became a little more than two.
Landing at Addis-Ababa began brightly, full moon and just a moment before landing in the sun came out. The airport was reached by luck and skill, mist covered everything on the ground. Due to the two-hour delay in Rome, a fast visit to the toilet and quickly to the gate. The crowd there was about the size of of Kajaani’s population!
Check-managed for Lilongwe, well, almost. It turned towards the gate to roll, but got instructions to come back ... it was reported that a passenger was to blame for the return, but judging by the fact that a large part of the field staff visited the cockpit, I thought there could have been a technical fault.
Two times we had the boarding ladder pulled off the plane, and another official came – then steps were pulled back. A little more than two hours late we’re ready to take off. This situation had caused some passengers become nervous.
Desert dunes seem like small waves, the main colour of Kenya’s plains is brown already, on top of Kilimantsaro there’s still a few snowdrifts, in the southern part of Tanzania looks like someone is in love with geometry; a huge large triangle, there at the middle a small square, colours merging with other browns. Whoever is responsible for the accomplishment of Malawi Lake, it’s incredibly bright blue.
It took me nearly an hour to get through at the Lilongwe Airport, over 20 people looking for visas, four officials worked in pairs. Both probably knew how to write, but only the one how to count, because she was taking money for fees. (In Finland we say, that the two policemen are always needed, one to read, one to write).
At the Airport a young man was meeting me, he introduced himself as a driver at Regina’s school. A visit to the local member of our team, Regina, in her home, then watching her school advertising movie, arrival at my B&B on 2 Sept. at 6 pm. I experienced a good example of Malawian hospitability first hand, the lady at the Reception deserves a full hundred points. The previous night’s couple of hours sleep guaranteed sweet dreams that night.
Morning, waking up by birdsong concert, not bad. Day for rest after the travelling. Sim card had been brought in the afternoon, but it turned out to be a wrong size, and there were no possibilities for Nano-Sim so it’s going for exchange. Hotel’s WiFi is mainly a publicity stunt. You can imagine how it feels for the person, who is used to having hundreds of megabits speed, falling down to a couple of hundred kilobit speed, or into complete inoperability…
A crow can be recognized by its voice here, too. At breakfast opposite me were three priests, one from Zimbabwe, one from Canada, one from Blantyre, staying in Lilongwe, ... fluency to speak English accrues best in emergencies:) WiFi in the morning dumped a mailbox full of messages and passed out ... You may forget using Facebook here. In the afternoon having a meeting with the local members of our association.
The afternoon went by, after all, half past six, a two-hour meeting, full of matters.
Back in the lodgings the porter offered (I asked) a local food tasting, corn porridge eaten by fingers… let’s see what the stomach likes about it. Sliced potatoes, tea and toast for dinner and then sleep.
Morning, birdsong and the coolness of the night ...
That means the coolness of approximately plus ten. Hot air, smoke and exhaust-filled, stagnant air, temperature at up to thirty, until by noon it began to accumulate clouds and the wind ensued.
Sitting in a taxi dating from 1992, the traffic is like from all the Kajaani congestions in past ten years at time, crowds of people walking, packed up, a visit to the centre of Lilongwe, for a right SIM card, a visit to an office and a visit to a bookstore. An educational trip.
First of all, the city is really wide, long distances. Second; four-hour taxi ride, by the driver at the same time acting as a guide and interpreter, paid thirteen thousand kwachas (× 0.008), the third: Anja in Finland provided details of her taxi driver in Lilongwe which was infinitely great. With a reliable and familiar man knowing the city, it is much safer to move around. Great thanks to Anja.
The afternoon was spent visiting the private school built by Regina. Great place, an impressive experience was, when I asked a seven year old boy in English, do you know where Finland is located, the answer came immediately, "I know." At his hand he had a Chitsewan textbook, which I did not understand a word. The importance of education shook me.
At the end of the day we went to see a Regina’s car, stolen and damaged, parts missing, totally written off, no good. The return trip through the centre of Lilongwe ... everyone who complains about traffic jams, should come to experience this. Approximately a five kilometres long journey takes a surprisingly long time, when the car jerk forward half a meter every now and then, people buzzing around, the air filled with smoke from campfires, temperature about +30 C. Lilongwe is not otherwise taken the trouble to offer much traffic safety. I have not yet seen any pedestrian signs. Pedestrians are warned shortly by horn (and no one will show his middle finger:)
In the evening I pile all the goods for tomorrow, the taxi comes at 6 am.
In the morning fog the sun, a red ball, rises. The fog is smoke, thousands of campfires at night. It’s a little bit hard to imagine being in the capital city ....
On the way to the airport I asked Anja’s taxi driver, if he might know a reliable taxi driver in Blantyre. After some calls, there should be a man waiting for me at the Blantyre Airport. Great.
Everything worked fine at the airport, A ticket to Blantyre only required payment, a receipt will come to my mail. 45 minutes of the flight, not enough time even to the seat belt warning light to go out.
There was the taxi man, with a sign in hand my first name on it. Great. During the trip I received information about the places through which we drove. We used the old route, because of the new road to Blantyre is in poor condition. By roadside you can see fashionable colonial houses. The Livingstone Institute stretches up to one kilometre of this road. Signs of wealth, green, established, colonial trees and gardens, the owners can afford to hire people to look after their gardens and money to water them. Shining flowers, flowering trees.
Blantyre surprised me, I think it is almost the opposite of Lilongwe, a clean, well maintained, and not crowded. Reasons for the difference are quite crude: after the Independence (1964), it was decided that the capital city is Lilongwe, not Blantyre which was a colonial capital. All functions of the state were forced to move to Lilongwe. Blantyre taxi driver feels it is a dying city. Really a shame, if I had to choose, the scale would be definitely for Blantyre’s advantage.
ATMs have restrictions, one can withdraw only 40 000 Malawi kwacha at one time. The cash machine spits out only thousands, smaller notes are not available. My Finnish wallet is not big enough here, I’d need at least a shoulder bag.
Do I tell about my accommodation. I do not. However, I'll go in the morning for a swim in that pool ...
In the afternoon we met with the local actors, architects and Grace's "I'm just driver" - George. An unanimous decision was that we leave as soon as possible, perhaps as early as Friday, ie, to visit the construction site of the school in the village of Muona. We want to have some understanding of the construction site, shape and state of the plot and structure of the soil. The distance to the village is about 170 kilometres. The first 70 km of good roads, the rest not so good, that is, the trip takes 45 minutes and 2.5 hours.
Electricity is cut off at about 13:30, the battery of the tablet is empty - "We have become accustomed to this" - the owner of the place comment. He tried to start the aggregate in the evening, but it didn’t work either. As a result, a candlelit dinner, followed by the only sensible way to exploit the situation; in a horizontal position and eyes closed. Woke up at 23:42, from the charging rate of the tablet I was able to conclude that the electricity had returned about 9 pm. Now it is 3:02am. Writing-hand is a little numb.
Today I go to the city. Need to find a hardware store, access to the product range, to find the goods. Here I dare to go to the city, Lilongwe made me think twice ...
Of course it was hot, a taxi driver said “Blantyre is much hotter than Limbe, because there are the trees are cut down”. Fewer people here than in Lilongwe, the city is in every way cooler, even trash bins are available. But why on earth did they transfer the capital into Lilongwe...
The town market place, the square, is an indescribable place. Probably India's urban bazaars are of the same type. Everything possible is sold here, plus an extensive vegetables market to enjoy.
I have just tried to get a Skype session with Pirkko. The connection was not good. Some things were communicated though.
Tomorrow morning we start towards the village Muona.
One more thing about yesterday’s visit to town. Imagine the situation that you wander around in a have quite an unfamiliar place, you walk down the street, all of a sudden you meet a guy, "Good morning, how are you". Completely strangers. Men and women. And there were many. Overwhelmed me the first time, but I succeeded to respond. If I sat down on the bench, the situation was the same. I wondered, what they are talking about when they say Malawi is Africa’s warm heart?. Try that sometimes in Finland:) :)
On the other hand the situation when some shopkeeper is trying to attract your attention, they call "Boss". Reflects the deep inequalities in society; the white man is always the boss.
Today finally came after all the travel down to Nsanje, as a result of a lot of confusion. Car hire was successful, the architect was released from teaching and work duties, the surveyor as well, Regina behind the wheel of a car and let’s go. And I can tell you that the Finnish rally drivers would have been satisfied.
The road climbed up early on the way unobtrusively, and when it started to wriggle down the hillside, the view was breathtakingly beautiful, even though at the same time spooky. A good time to be here would be in April and May, after the rainy season. I believe that you rush here to the mountain top, the river valley and surrounding mountains, all are well worth seeing.
The spookiness is due to the fact that those slopes covered by trees are cut down by major foreign companies, beaten, gains exported to foreign countries. Many of you have bought hardwood surfaced furniture. There is nothing in harvesting, here too the law obliges plants to be replaced for the felled trees, no less than three new ones for the felled one. This is about how the planting is made: seedlings in the ground, the official to check that the matter has been taken care of, and as good, although the middle of the dry season. And no one taking care of them in the future. As a result, the full destruction, 99 seedlings per hundred died ... .the landscape is inconsolable.
The rest of the road was not in a good condition. Top speed was sixty kilometres per hour – I hardly believe that anywhere in Finland you can be found even a forest road in that poor condition. The bottom of the car bumping into the stones and rocks for dozens of times, a few times we had to reverse. The culprit is the poor condition of the rainy season. The road runs on level ground, mountains brought an avalanche of stones in the flood waters along the river bed, the largest of them a beach ball size.
After many small villages and one punctured tire we arrived in Muona. The heat was not surprising, after all, I had been warned. It was surprising that the rise in a few tens of meters into the mountainside temperature fell probably about ten degrees. A small house, a few small annex buildings, a lot of trees, friendly people, greetings.
After a short stop, we headed to the promised construction area. When we stopped the car and started up the gentle slope up, crowds of people started gathering there, from children to grandparents. The building area is a hilly terrain, on the riverbank are the cliffs that are not given in and flood the field. Rise to the highest point accumulates the beginning of a dozen or so meters, very sparse trees, dried up bushes.
After walk about and a group picture of our plot, the people put up a dance, Regina involved, after all, it was question about people in his home village. The sun fell down, the last images in rather dim light, then to a dinner offered by the Regina's mother, on the way there we picked car the mended tire, which during our dining was put back on. Rice, corn porridge, fried chicken, fried vegetables. Good local food.
The trip home went almost without mishaps, when crossing river beds voices of loud frogs, encouraged the youth forces gathered weekend dances getting started, and then this "almost": apparently a drug gang, the men in their twenties, saw the driver's cell phone and started chasing, suddenly the gas to the bottom, luckily on the flat road section, the windows closed, we got away. The driver told after a mile she had trembling legs even more.
I was left at the B&B at a quarter to midnight. When I switched on cell phone, I found a message: "If you can, let us know you are okay." I had not noticed, I have to thank the lady ....In the early morning there was another outage.
Today's pictures, images, information about the place; we’ll get to work. Next week next visit, soil and sand samples to the state laboratory for examination, I hope they can be used for making bricks. The surveyor shall draw up a map of the area, the architect calculates the preliminary cost estimates, which are, after all, informing us, when we are able to start building work.
Day off from everything but writing;) The day starts with a quarter of an hour in the sun, wondering if I may get a little colour to the surface! City trips, sleeveless t-shirt on, I have used a sunscreen with SPF 50, skin colour has not changed at all. Good substance, even water resistant.
In the afternoon, we went with the innkeeper to support local small entrepreneurs. Carlsberg, half a litre 1120K, ie EUR 1.4, not bad. Half of it remained, not too much sweetness at once. In the evening, the landlord took the whole gang to city to eat, the cook got a free evening.
From our trip yesterday came to mind bushfires. When we got back up to the mountains, there were fires in two places. Someone had thrown a cigarette from a car window, onto the parched grass. No one is worried about that, it will burn down in the end or not. Also in the evening while driving towards the city, we see on the top of a big mountain bush fires, they had to be large, because that mountain was far away.
After going to bed early, you wake up early, this morning at two fifty. The electricity has remained on throughout the morning, apparently it is off during the day to the needs of companies and.
One Englishman waiting at the airport, he had spent here three weeks on vacation, visiting relatives. The flight from Blantyre to Nairobi, from there straight to London, to work on Monday. Others take the place.
This B & B place I can recommend. Quiet, peaceful, reportedly over a 3-acre area. The purpose of the proprietor is to make this a functionally ecologically principled place, small huts over there under the trees etc. September is here, in his opinion, the hottest month, in October can already get rain, in November even more likely. If they happen to come, too, they have learned to African track of time. I have already learned that the taxi quarter of an hour is about 50 minutes, on the other hand, when you get busy, he has been here in a quarter of an hour, 10 kilometers distance.
Sunday, writing this, sunshine and rest. An English speaking, elder couple came late yesterday from South Africa, they had been living in rough places like Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra.
Tomorrow I’ll go to Blantyre city early in the morning.