|Fueling for the journey ahead|
It is about 8pm on the 17th November 2011, as we leave Karonga, Malawi where we have just had dinner and are now headed to Lilongwe in 3 bus convoy headed by the Malawi team. These buses have attracted so many people since the caravan started. It’s a natural reaction and especially if you see 3 buses full of people just driving across your town. Anyways, I seem to like writing the caravan dispatches while in motion. So this is being written as the bus is in full motion with caravanites beginning to catch some much needed sleep. It has been a long day. Just yesterday we were in Dar with the Vice President who was flagging off the caravan. It looks like ages ago.
We have travelled over 1600 kilometers to just be here. Here being Malawi whose border officials are over friendly at a time when people were so tired. Funny thing is, our bodies are acclimatizing. The fatigue seems to settle and altogether disappear. That must be good especially because we still have Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and finally South Africa to get to. We had a a day of driving through Tanzania straight into Malawi. That can be tiring but also very interesting.
The money changing is mind boggling. You get to the Malawi border and there is forex bureau. Oh an official one, Most of the time you just have the local guys who have appointed themselves as money changers doing the business. Sometimes it is good. Sometimes it is bad. You could end up getting a raw deal or a very good one. What an oxymoron.
Then there are the different modes of officials on the borders. At the Rwanda border they were very fast and so were those of Tanzania. The Malawi ones though were friendly but to some very tired caravanites. There are borders that we found very strict officials while others were very relaxed. Tonight the weather is warm. The bus l am in has most of its windows open. No one is complaining or making frantic requests of please close the windows. Very different compared to the other countries at night. Working with a team like this one has to appreciate the logistics involved. This right here is not child play. Getting everyone together even for simple tasks can be mind boggling. But l have said before, the logistics team here is both professional and diplomatic. Of course group dynamics come into play. You can expect that with not only different personalities but also with different nationalities.
That said, l can’t wait to get into Malawi and see what it is they have planned for the day. I know there is a procession at 8am followed by some activities. The reason l can’t wait is because this team came to meet us at the border and had a whole activity take place right there. Back at the eating joint, l made friends with the receptionist who let me charge my mini laptop. Friendly people. She told me about Lilongwe just enough for me to nod and think…do some little digging about it. For now the driver powers on with either side being pitch black and the caravanites taking a pause. I probably should do that. I will keep you updated on my observations on caravan dispatches.