The boat left Mbamba Bay just before sunset. It was a scenic time to be out on the lake. The sky was clear, the water calm, and my bicycle safely wedged between a few large sacks of cassava and second-hand clothes. It felt good to be breaking the tour up with a boat journey – a peaceful continuation of slow travel without the physical exertion of the lung-bursting climbs I’d been experiencing on the road.
Old roads and new: Mbeya-Mwanza. Part 2 March 11th, 2015
Show me the money January 30th, 2012
I just missed him apparently. Back in 2006, somewhere within Kathmandu’s narrow maze of streets, I met a Romanian cyclist called Cornell. Nepal’s capital is, or at least was then, something of a hub for touring cyclists in the Indian subcontinent. Some like me had crossed the border from Tibet, whilst others had entered from India or Bangladesh. Well there had been a group of us exchanging tales and I remember him telling me he would be cycling Cairo-Cape Town in the future. He left me with his e-mail address, but never replied when I later contacted him.
Malawi in the rainy season January 17th, 2012
Rain accompanied the climb out of Nkata bay. About an 800m vertical ascent in 40km, said the American with a backpack. “Good luck buddy”, were the final words I heard him mutter before disappearing with half a dozen other Peace Corp volunteers.
I think Nkata bay’s foreigner head-count probably doubled over Xmas and New Year with all the young Americans here. It’s a good enough guess that if you meet an American in Africa who isn’t working for an NGO or spreading the word of God then he or she will be a Peace Corp. I’ve met them in many other countries deemed ‘stable’ enough for young college graduates with fresh ideas about solving Africa’s woes to live in for 2 years. Most seem to live as frugal an existence as possible during their time in the ‘bush’, and then blow their stipend in a few weeks of travel and partying.
And the winner goes to: Reflections from 2011 January 3rd, 2012
Another year passes by on the roads of Africa; this one spent between the mountains of northern Cameroon and the tranquil shores of Lake Malawi. I managed a modest 12,000km of cycling – about the same as last year, and crossed through 8 countries.
There were jungles and big rivers, endless palm-fringed beaches, bribe-demanding immigration officers and chaotic urban traffic. Last year I wrote a post summing up some of the memorable places and experiences of 2010, so here is a similar list of random highlights and lowlights from 2011. Feel free to comment and add a category. And a belated Happy New Year to all those who’ve followed the journey, whether it be from the beginning or more recently.
Into Africa’s warm heart December 22nd, 2011
Poor countries with well-paved roads and high fuel prices make good news for foreign cyclists. Welcome to little land-locked Malawi, which surely has the highest fuel costs on the continent? It’s something you probaby didn’t know, unless you were unfortunate to be living and driving a car here.
A litre of petrol when available here costs 380 Kwatcha (£1.50) from a fuel pump, and more like £2-3 on the black market from roadside jerry cans. Only the very rich can afford to have a car and run it – true throughout much of Africa, but more so in Malawi.
Border games: Another survival tip December 14th, 2011
“And when it’s time for leaving Mozambique
Just say goodbye to sand and sea
You turn around to take a final peek
And you see why it’s so unique to be
Among the lovely people living free
Upon the beach of sunny Mozambique”
Remember that post I wrote not so long go about tips for surviving Africa? Well here is another one. When changing money at a border crossing make sure it is YOU who is the last one to count it. Sounds obvious I know. Commonsense surely? Maybe an explanation will salvage some of my stupidity. It was a swift and slick operation; one done many times before I’m sure.
Old faces in forgotton places November 29th, 2011
“For people who must live from day to day, past and future have small relevance, and their grasp of it is fleeting; they live in the moment, a very precious gift that we have lost.”(Peter Matthiessen)
Some people said the island had changed since I first came here 10 years ago. Not the place it once was and all that. Back then I spent several weeks here: charmed, captivated and entranced by the atmosphere of this colonial treasure-chest.