October 25, 2005 GMT
Africa Fatigue.

20/10/05. Lilongwe, Malawi.

A strange mood descended on me just after the first anniversary of leaving the UK. Months 1-12 were (on the whole) just a barrel of larfs. Then Month 13 turned weird on me.

Suddenly I got bored of explaining for the millionth time where I was going, why, and where I'd been. I had to restrain myself from taking a deep breath and exhaling "Moroccomauritaniasenegalmaliburkinafasoghanatogobeninniger
nigeriacameroonchadethiopiakenyaugandatanzaniamalawi", in response to the inevitable.

I developed "Oh Bloody Hellllll" syndrome, in which any minor setback - no paper in the toilet, somebody approaching me with obvious begging intentions, warm beer, a useless shower, a shop that only had menthol fags - produced a deep, mournful inward sigh and a craving for cheese on toast in a centrally heated room in wintry England with a PlayStation close at hand. (Even now that sounds good).


At the height of Africa Fatigue, I floated in Lake Malawi, surrounded one one side by mile-high escarpments and on the other by, er, lake, under a cobalt sky, at 11am on a Tuesday morning, and thought "So what?". Then I thought "You twerp", and by the time I was halfway to Lilongwe today I was over it. Malawi is a ridiculously beautiful country (if you like mountains and lakes), it's dirt cheap and everyone speaks English. So it's Month 14 and Africa Fatigue is a thing of the past.
Surely it must be time for a toilet anecdote...

If you ever find yourself staying in the Thirty-Thirty hotel in Manhattan, and while dawdling in reception you overhear the phrase "Jose! Code 55 in room 309!", you may be interested to know that a "code 55" refers to a toilet that is so irretrievably
blocked that it requires professional assistance.

I know this because - shamefully - I created just such a horror-show myself once. In my defence, I had eaten not one but two Benjy's omelettes, as a form of intestinal dare, 2 days before I flew to New York. Londoners will be aware of the colonic impasse that even one Benjy's omelette is certain to produce. Others will have to trust me.

"Why must he fling this filth at us and our children?" I hear you complain. Well, you see, I'm writing this with a pen I stole from the Thirty-Thirty. So there you have it.

The Moral:
Stealing, ladies and gentlemen, is profoundly wrong. But then so, in some peoples eyes, is going to the lavatory...

Who's up for a "Lilongwe to Tipperary" rally?

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21/10/05. Lilongwe.

Amusing products you can buy in Malawi:
1. Ars - a mosquito deterrent.
2. Toss - a soap powder.
3. Happibotti - a yoghurt poultice for haemorrhoids.*

Petrol in Malawi is cut with 20% alcohol. The moto seems to handle it fairly well - it feels a bit lumpy when the mixture has been allowed to stand, but OK when you've done a couple of miles and mixed it up again. It's very bad news if you have a fibreglass fuel tank I'm told - the alcohol melts the fibreglass which clogs everything up quite nicely. (I've tried Malawi Gin and it doesn't appear to be 20% petrol).

I get a soaking on the way back to the hotel today. Fluffy is not happy. A new coil and plug cap is on it's way from the UK. I hope it works...

*made that one up

Posted by Simon Fitzpatrick at October 25, 2005 03:05 PM GMT

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