Karong is by the Malawi Lake and this is where i was camped, very close to the waters edge. Unfortunatelly the locals running the camp/lodge had no idea about rest at nite. On the second nite there i was that upset at their noise - voices and music at 2 in the morning i got up and said my peace, and thats what i got. In Karong i did find an internet cafe. Cafe in the Africa ive seen has nothing to do with coffee and cake. One lonely computer in a vacant room is the norm.
Next down the road was Muzuzu, a very buisy, bussling town. I didnt feel that good about the place so a look in the Lonley Planet guide lead me to a great camp at Chinteche about 80klm further south but at the waters edge again. The ride there was just great, winding road, water views, hills and valleys. It was that good/fun that i went back to Muzuzu for shopping the next day.
At the camp at Chinteche i learnt that the local fishermen go out very early in the morning to do there fishing/netting etc. Laying guite peacefull in my tent, all i could here was their voices, paddles touching the water and the general sound of workers at their work. Nice to see the goings on.
From Chinteche i kept next to the Lake to reach Senga Bay. First i stopped in at a very upmarket pub/hotel/camp area. I watched T.V and sunk a few beers. The mk1,000 that they wanted for me to pitch my tent was not all that bad considering that u could use the pool and bar. But my tightness made me move on to another place id read about mk400 for me and tent, much cheaper. The camp was great but only had room for me for one nite. That was fine so i settled in to chat with others and sink a few more Browns (local beer brand).
The next day saw me in Lilongwe where i meet 2 aust. cyclists that id chatted to a few days before on the ride from Muzuzu. They asked for directions to the same camp that i was staying at, rather nice camping with some great aussies.
Lilongwe is the capitol of Malawi and has the congestion of traffic to prove it. Nice enough place but rather buisy. I stayed a day longer than expected as the rain found me again, this time in the mornings. The town had a nice second hand book store where i found myself stocking up on reading material.
Leaving Lilongwe i was to meet 2 guys on a mt. range towards Monkey Bay, we had all pulled over to take photos at the same time and spot. We chatted and i said i was going to Monkey Bay, one of them actually worked in the area, and said dont bother with Monkey Bay, go direct to Cape Maclear. Funny how things happen, all that day as i stopped to check my map people came up to tell me to go to 'The Fat Monkey' at Cape Maclear.
At The Fat Monkey i was delighted to find a great sandy beach, a bar, food, shade and all the things that make u feel that u are not in Africa. But seriously, it was and is a great place to unwind. I spent 2 relaxing days either at the waters edge taking in the views, reading at the waters edge or at the bar drinking. Learnt to play the local African Board game, forgot its name though.
From The Fat Monkey i moved down to Zomba. I meet and chatted to 2 AIDs Volenteer workers at Fat Monkey, who told me that the Mt. at Zomba is very lovelly. The winding road up the mountain and the views over the plato? where some of the best ive seen since i was in Alaska, fantastic.
I arrived at the camp to find they wanted mk600 to camp and no views, just a mozzi infested lawn to lay out on. I got on my bike to leave while a couple where backing out in their 4x4. We spoke for a moment and it seemed that he had been there a few days. He was going for a tour up the Mt. further and said i could follow if i wished. It turned out he was going to a look out way up top. It was great. I told him about the cost of the camp and he showed me a nice place a little from the lookout that i could camp bymyself for free. That was me, i set up camp and procceded to read my new book to the sound/views of monkeys in the forest all around me.
During the nites camp i heard a sound, sure it was from a gun, i sat upright sortting out the sounds. Low and behold i heard a car/truck coming along the track. In a short time i also saw the lights, it came around the last corner before my camp. I thought of getting out to chat but decieded to stay in the tent and ignore them and hopefully they would do the same for me. The 4x4 just quietly passed by, no hassel, no problem.
The next day i spoke to a worker (at the camp i didnt say at) about the gun shot during the nite, he said it was not uncomon for poaches to roam the Mt.
The most beautifull of sites i see in Africa are the little babys/children on the ladys backs, or feeding from the breast. Wide eyed and lovely. It was no different on the road to Blantyre.
From Zomba its an easy ride to Blantyre, the major town of the area.
I wasn"t in town long before the local police had me pulled over at a road junction. There was 3 of them, first they wanted to see my licence, this was hiden in my luggage, so i stripped the bike to get said licence. This took a little while, i was sort of hopping they would lose patience and just let me go. One of them stayed with me while i was sorting out the licence, he said 'WHY U NOT HAVE IT EASYIER TO GET TO" my answer was, so that no one stole it. Mind u i had several copies made and that was all i was now showing him. On seeing my licence he instructed me to pack up bike and move to the side of the road where their van was. This i did as slow as possible. At the side of the road i was told that i needed road insurace, i kept explaning that i was told at the boder crossing that i did not need one. This did not sit well with them.
They started to threaten me with fines and taking me to the local police station and id have to be booked and would go to court and pay big fine. At this point i was sick of them so i said " U DO WHAT EVER U NEED TO DO and thanks for spoiling my time in Malawi" with that said i sat down to read my book. I had just started to read the first line and one of them came up to me and said"U GO NOW, U FIND SOME WHERE TO BUY INSURANCE, WE LET U OFF, GO". With that i rode off.
Here in Blantyre i meet a german bloke who invited me to his home for tea and sleep. Turns out he ran out of money in Malawi, so hes set up for 2 years doing what he nows best, Optician. On seeing his 4x4 truck, i could see how he ran out of money. The 4x4 was just huge, like something u would see the army using to move a platoon of men. I never asked the fuel usaged, but could gess it would not be good. Had a nice nite, a little hung over but all well the next day.
I didnt like Blantyre all that much so i took of towards the border to Mozambique, well thats what i thought i was doing. I got rather confused in the town, went in circles for a while. Im so lucky to have a large fuel tank and a bike that gets great economy, i get lost so many times its comforting that i have the fuel to find my way out.
Love border crossings,LOL. I actually feel that the people at the borders do bad service for their country men and women. If only they would be a bit more forthcoming, helpfull and smile all would go better. To me, im that wound up after leaving the border post, it takes me quite a time to calm down enough to actually be human again, thats me anyway.
Well in to Mozambique i went, rather wound up. every one was hassling to sell me money, said i needed it to cross some bridge, i didnt.
From the border i rode through some nice ranges and reasonable roads. Arriving at Tete i was still a bit wound up. I took a hotel room for the nite, ended up staying for 2. Not that the place was anything to rave about, just i needed to do a little work on the bike(air cleaner etc.). Also just down the street from the so called hotel was a nice bar, that sold great food.
I had a nice meal at that bar and even caught a bit of TV. The bar girl was rather funny in that she came up to me to say 'U BUY ME DRINK' i said yes thats fine, thinking she was to drink with me, what i didnt realise is that it was not the drink she wanted it was the money that a drink is worth. In Africa it all about the MONEY, OR WHAT U CAN GET FOR FREE.
Even so it was a nice place and very tidy and clean.
As i said the hotel was a bit/lot rough and i was paying top $, asking for hot water for the shower, fell on deaf ears. Turned out at the time of leaving i was shitty again with the managements slackness to my hot water requests that i started to argue over the price they where charging me. I thought for a few moments, tore up some of the cash i paid to them, told them to get stuffed and rode out of town.
Not my best day.
South of Tete i was getting a little hungry, just as i was thinking it a town came up, and would u believe, there on the side of the hyw. was a 'Resturant and Bar" in big bold letters. I park the bike to the pleasure of all the locals looking on. At the counter i ask, 'English' a little was the reply. I had an hour or so having lunch and watching all the people watching me.
Turning more east than south i headed towards Beira, on the coast. It started to get late, but the sun kept up, this had me a bit confused untill i realised that Beira is actually on a point and sort of faces west, if u get my drift. Any how it was of a great help as i wondered around town, getting directions to a camp spot from various people. Till finally one guy at a servo said 'u just follow me', in broken english. First he had to put fuel in his car, then with him and his male and female passengers enjoying a beer, i followed. Now the streets near the sea, where i wanted to camp where mostly dirt and floaded with water. Very interesting in the fadeing lite.
In no time at all the car stopped in the middle of the road, the guy got out and pointed to a small walking track through some bushes. Go through there he pointed. With caution i rode the small track, on the other side it was like another world. New 4x4s parked in a line, lights from a resturant and a welcoming smile from the secruity gaurd.
After booking in, the guard(i speak no portuguess) led me to a place i could put my tent and bike in that was under cover, safe from the rain. The gaurd raked the sand smooth and helped put the tent up. All settled, i handed him a mzn100, with a big smile he showed me his hitting stick and demistrated how he would hit the people that might want to touch my gear. Money makes many friends in Africa.
While in Beira i did an oil and filter change. This i did by the road at a pile of rubbish. My logic was the same as Arlo Gutheries in the move/record 'ALICES RESTURANT'. If u have not heard the record, do its quite good, even has referances to motorcycles. Any how as i was saying, oil change. While finishing of 3 lads come along and rumaged through the pile and yes they took my used oil containers, recycling at its simplest.
From Beira i headed to Vilankulo, it was a big day. Unable to complete the ride, in the daylite i opted for a camp off the road. As much as i try to remember i always forget about landmines. This was brought home to me the next morning. I came across a well set up camp, in a road side stop. Thinking it was a tour bus group with nice ladys to look and chat to i pulled over. That bus of ladys is still out there as the camp was for the 'land mine removal men'. I was welcomed to their camp, for coffee and chat. The main guy spoke great english. He explained what they where up to and that because of the Cyclones, the land mines have shiffted, not that they new where they where before. But it seems that land that they had cleared before must be checked again. Bloody land mines.
My thoughts after talking to the land mine guy was me camped of the road, walking around like i owned the place, what i fool i felt.
Wow, Vilankulo, is amazing, ive never seen anything like it. A cyclone or 2 came through a few months before i got there and its rather flatterned. I did not see a straight or undamaged building on my ride through town.
I went to see the B/Packers that where named in the lonely planet book. All i remember was workers refitting/ renewing the roof and a lady waving me on, as to say ' u can not stay here'. Luck was with me again, id seen a sign for a lodge just out of town so i headed there. And what a lodge it is. It would have been 150mt x 25mt built by this swiss bloke at the cliff edge. The veiws from the lodge where just amazing, looking out to the east, the never ending beach and the local boats going by.
I was welcomed to his home. The place was not finished, as in it had not proper camping/ showers/ rooms/cabins for me. But that was not a problem for the owner. I was told to put the bike in the main room of the lodge, really it was just in front of the Bar. Here i also set up the tent. All the while the owner, Peter was boiling water for my bush shower.
With all the domestics out of the way, Peter and i sat down to chat. I found out that his wife lives in the town, but may come back. Sounded close to a breakup.
Peter had been building the place for 5 years, with local help. He made his own concret blocks, bent his own steel work, dug his own soil for the blocks, concret and mortar. People just amaze me, there persistance, reziliance, and determination. He(Peter) must have done a great job as its about the only building not damaged after the Cyclones.
After Breakfast with Peter at the lodge. i took of for Tofo. 20klm out a flat rear tyre. Turned out a small steel pin, 25mm long went straight through my new tyre tread. This was a bit amazing in its self but even more so when i had a brain blank and pinched the tube 2 times before getting mobile again. But now that was not the end of my day, id done badly with my patching. One of the patches came loose, so there i was fixing another flat. But me being the smart traveller, decieded to fit my new tube. Out with the new tube, i looked and looked again, the size of the tube id bought was 2.75/3.15 x 17 not 3.75/410 x17 that i realy needed. Thank the stars as it worked and is still in there to this day, that rubber sure is streatchy.
With rain still playing its part, i took a break for lunch in Maxixe. Over 1 1/2hrs i waited for my fish and salad, the joys of travelling. Mostly rainny and windy during the day.
Not long after moving on from the lunch spot i meet 2 other m/cyclists. Stopped for a chat, they where headed nrth. The where on older XT600 yamahas- NO ELECTRIC START. I dont know how they do it, love electric start. They looked at me funny, saying 'what happens if the starter fails'. I wished them well and rode on to Tofo.
I continued to camp at a beach van park, Morrungulo. Not the cheapest place but it did have a bar and a beach. A walk along the beach, had me attacked by a little runt of a dog, a well place rock had it sortted to its owners discust.
Later at the bar i meet a group og South African, up on holidays. I got and took the invitation to join them for tea(supper). What a great nite, i took some beers over to their camp and just hung out, chatted, eat and relaxed. Must have been a good nite as i lost my way back to camp.
The next day saw me having my photo taken by the S.African group. The photo actually turned up on a local bike site a few weeks later.
In Tofo(well Inhambane realy) i borrowed a spanner to adjust the headstem bearings, unfortunately i did them a little to tight. The bike road as it was on tracks, bit of a bother. So in getting to Maputo i found a steet vendor selling tools, he had exactly what i wanted and a good price also. I re-did the bearings there and then on the side walk.
I stayed in Maputo at Fatimas BackPakers, the first time i ever put my tent up on a roof. Not a lot of room for me and the tent, also the stairs where rather badly made, step and narrow. I was a little concerned on setting up but the place actually turned out to be a nice place to stay. The B/P was a nice walk to town and close to food and booze places, rather cool.
I made some new friends at the B/P incuding the manager/barman.
From Maputo i road to the border into South Africa. Border crossings as u now know are not my most fun. The funny thing at this one was i didnt get stamped out of Mozambique, no idea what happened, or where the post was. I was at the S/A crossing thinking it was the Moz. border, i road on looking for the next crossing, that just didnt happen as i was in S/A, weird.
In S/A i went to a B/P i new in Nelspruit, stayed the nite then moved to Graskop, a town a little further north west.
Graskop is the centre of tourists heaven, lots of gift shops, drives, hotels, cafes etc. I did the drive that is most comon where u get to see Gods window and all other sorts of tourist traps. Its was/is a lovely part of the country and i enjoyed the day very much, touristy though it was. The ride came back to Graskop, and just in time as the sky opened up, i did my usual and found a pub to keep dry. That nite saw me take a room at the pub, as it rained and rained.
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