Apr 26, 2012

Suicidal Butterflies

So this one never made it through, and only half of the draft was saved so will only be a quick recap of how i entered Malawi.

> Mangochi (waiting for the president)
> Lichinga saw me departing through a less often/never for arungu (mzungu went to mrungu to arungu) used route to Malawi. Somewhere half a lifetime ago i remember using the words, taking the road less travelled. Have certainly been doing so, but the next section was so far off the beaten track that no tracks were to be found, well very little and extremely overgrown at certain sections. Somewhere in the back of my mind i see some crazy people taking on stetteyns...
> But i'm getting ahead of myself.
> At Lichinga i met Keith and Bronwyn (who my uncle rerouted me to), thank you guys so much for the accommodation, food, conversation and saving my panniers. Keith put one of his mechanics at my disposal for a day and i was more than impressed with what could be done with a grinder. Touch wood, but if the current bush-fix doesn't hold, i'm not sure anything would. Will try and send some photos of the beefed up 0.5cm steel joinings on my bike.
> The morning of my Lichinga departure was spend cycling up and down in search of passport stamp. Eventually went to the airport (immigration couldn't/wouldnt help me), and got stamped out. Lady looked a bit puzzled and said no plane today, yes i'm exiting via Meponda. Oh.
> The road to Meponda was quite easy going, dropping about 500m in altitude towards the Lake. Got Keith there, and he once again just said here's a house, stay in in. Really loving the people and unexpected luxuries thats coming my way. On that note, running water (or for that matter safe water), food that doesn't go crunch, a soft place to sleep (grass) very much counts as luxuries by now. Getting something that is cold is so much beyond expectation that it is undescribably good. So stayed over at Meponda after only 70km of riding, but no rush since would wait in Mangochi for packet in any case. Did some serious overhauling on the bike, might not finish with gears, but so far so good. The sand and mud made for some seriiiiious wear and tear. Rode into town and realised my shark teeth gears and the new chain is a no go. Lets see how far the old one goes and then maybe singlespeed to SA.
> The next day saw me heading off through the village and finding Sanjo, a local who spoke quite decent english and decided it would be good exercise to escort me to the border (12km of bundu bashing later). Seriously glad he came along, helped me push/carry some of the hills, and as soon as i would start peddaling he would push from behind on sections i was struggling;) (which made me topple over backwards once or twice since the weight is all at the back). The villagers all said no way for bicycle to border, so had to prove them wrong. Old man escorted me with Sanjo to river, waded through at about half a august in and out.
> Stopped all along the way at the most random villages, where either a aunt or brother or his mother was staying. Treated to amazing hospitality and food. The going was extremely beautiful which was a good thing, even though at times i really couldn't look around was going slow enough to appreciate it. Some very technical riding but lot of fun. If someone could just take a machete and clear the track it would rival even black fountain.

> Staying right next to the lake, and by times on and through it, made for spectacular scenery. Hoping the full hd feature of the ION will do the riding and surrounding areas justice.

> Was saved some facial reconstruction by sludge. On one downhill was forced to stop quite unexpectedly, massive rut and rock garden (would have been chancy to ride without backpack and panniers), felt the front wheel doing something weird. Still in a bit precarious spot, badly balanced on steep downhill, loojed down and saw my tire was sitting next to the wheel and i was stading on the rim. Absolutely no idea how that held, without burp/popping, but extremely grateful and impressed.

> Had some less than rideable sections where the tank just bashed through, with complete disregard to the thicket thorns and me on top. Scratched to bits, good thing for leg hair.

> Finally made it to the border where Sanjo turned back. Not so sure i would have done the same thing, escorting a crazy white man through a semi to very unrideable track just for the sake of exercise...well maybe. A steep down and up and i was in Malawi.

> The track improved, less overgrown, and worsened, more rocks and sand and the riding was about the same. Finally made it to Nsenje where had to cross the river in another dodgy boat. Still not getting the boat fees, every single local seems to cross without paying but not so for me, 50 kwacha, about R1.6 so not too bad but confusing. After the river crossing found a bushtrack, locals said it goes to Mpilipili which was not on any map. Still the direction felt ok so headed off. The previous 22km took around 5 hrs so wasn't too keen on doing the next10 to where a road was supposed to be.

> The riding on this highway (a motorcycle's width) was pleasantly smooth and i soon lost myself. So much so that i almost crossed a snake crossing the road. The landscape was splatteted with boababs which made the riding even better. Finally made it to Mpilipili after riding on the border for a while. Swerve left, mozam, right malawi.

> Had my first bad luck with food. Was redirected to 'restuarant'. Night was spend alternating between the tent and new spots away from my tent and previous visits.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe I missed it, but where are the BUTTERFLIES?!