We went into Blantyre the other day to search for a Malawian flag which is surprisingly difficult to find, as well as to escape the repetitiveness of the food here at CCAP. To go to Blantyre is no small feat. It requires waking up at 5 am and gathering all of your stuff in rapid succession. You then have to walk to Likhubula and wait for a minibus to Chitakale. This part of the trip proved to be surprisingly easy because some workers from the Forest Lodge (the only other tourist lodge on the mountain) drove past us and picked us up. As it turned out they were also headed to Limbe (a district of Blantyre where all the minibuses leave/arrive) so they took us there for half of the price we’d normally have to pay. We told them we were going to Chichiri Shopping Centre and though it was out of their way they took us there with no problems at all. So what should have been a 2-3 hour ordeal turned out taking just less than an hour. That never happens here.
Chichiri Shopping Centre is a little oasis of western civilization in the heart of Blantyre which is of course the bustling commercial hub of Malawi. They have a shoprite there, a movie theater, cafes with decent food, and some small shops. I had a good cheeseburger for lunch at Café Rouge and was able to purchase a Malawian flag from an Islamic couple who ran a shop in the plaza.
The real drama of the day was the ride back to Likhubula. I have to emphasize that in the US the drive would only take 30-40 minutes but we left Chichiri at half past 12 and arrived back at CCAP around 4:45. First we had to pay 50 kwacha for a minibus to take us to Limbe (by the way us=myself, Ian, Dillon, Justin, Victoria, and Emily). From Limbe we had to search for a minibus heading towards Mulanje which we eventually found. However the bus to Mulanje had two other villages ahead of it which meant we were going the long home and had to stop in each village along the way.
It’s important to note that unlike in the US where buses run on a schedule and passengers tell the drive when to leave, in Malawi it’s quite the opposite. The minibuses will leave when the minibuses are full, and not any sooner. So when we stopped at a village to unload some people we would not continue onward until that bus was full again. It’s a very arduous process.
As I’m looking at this post right now I’m realizing that this post isn’t too entertaining but I just think it should be known that it takes literally all day to get to a city maybe 15 miles away.