August 19, 2010 GMT
They're Biscuits, Jim, But Not As We Know Them

I stayed a week in Lilongwe. There was no work to do on the bike so I did very little, except research the route ahead to Harare in Zimbabwe via Tete in Mozambique, and thence to the Great Zimbabwe Monument. I gathered a list of places to stay from the internet and details of the route, all main tarmac roads.

You see, I have no guide book now. The last one I had was for "East Africa" that Caroline left me in Nairobi. It lasted until Tanzania. Now I'm relying on the internet where it's available, word of mouth, and my maps. And maps of Africa are a movable feast to say the least.

Anyway, I was camped at a popular backpackers' place close to the city centre, such that it was. For a capital city it's quite tiny, but then Malawi is a pretty small country anyway.
So it was quick and easy to get into town to get away from the sometimes frenetic activities back at the campsite as the gap-year students organised their day and the charity workers organised theirs.

And in town I noticed that the popular digestive biscuits have all but disappeared from the shops. They've been replaced by a range of biscuits that are occupying more and more shelf space as I go south. They must be best-sellers now judging from the stacks of them in the aisles.
They come from a bakery in South Africa, in distinctive red and white square boxes, and in three varieties (so far):
Eet Sum Mor, Munch A Lot, and Hav Sum Mor.
Each name preceeded by "The Original".
Well, I wouldn't disagree with that!
In the supermarket in Lilongwe it's not unusual to see shoppers pondering in earnest discussion over the stacks on the shelves, deciding which to buy for afternoon tea. All in Swahili, so I don't know what on earth they are saying. But you can't mistake the child's vote for "....... Eet Sum Mor!"

The evening before departure I was packing things up when one of those lone African birds crash-landed from the tree next to my tent, or so it seemed, and hopped around pecking at the ground. So here are yet more bird photos, from an old camera with a dim flash.

It noticed the flash, and hopped a bit closer to it each time it went off.

Bright orange with blue wings and doing a good impression of a badger.


The seventh day saw me set off south towards Blantyre, to either stay there or somewhere close to the Mozambique border. I had decided that going all the way to Tete was too much for one day. There's a crossroads near the border, left to Blantyre, right to Mozambique, and a little village with a little basic motel. So I stopped there for the night.
Up until that moment, the weather since longer than I can remember had been impeccable. Wall to wall sun and perfect temperatures (except for rain in the night in Nkhota Bay).
But the following morning it was freezing and dark. Black clouds billowed and rolled about, almost low enough to touch, blocking out all the light, although adding a touch more drama to the ever-changing mountain scenery. Halfway to the border the rain started, hardly any really, but the freezing temperature made me stop to put on all my rain gear.
That helped a little, but at the border the first job was to dig out the winter lining for my riding jacket, buried since Syria and often nearly jettisoned along the way. Then the heavens opened but fortuitously I was in the dry by then, going through the paperwork in the customs and immigration building on the Mozambique side.
The rain stopped when I rode onto the Mozambique roads headed for Tete.
The road was all downhill more or less, leading to the mighty Zambezi river. So, I thought, dropping about two thousand feet, it must warm up.
No, it didn't.
The idea "Hurry A Lot" and "Wear Sum Mor" sprung to mind.

Posted by Ken Thomas at August 19, 2010 10:51 AM GMT

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