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Jul 29 2013

Farewell to the Warm Heart of Africa

We weren’t quite sure what to expect when we first arrived in Malawi.  We knew it was a poor country.  We had heard how friendly the people were. We knew in the past that fuel shortages had plagued the country, which virtually stalled the country’s economy.

We were not disappointed.

The people are the friendliest we have met in Africa so far.  Almost without failure, the people are smiling and friendly.  A wave as you pass through a village receives a wave in return, rather than a hand out for money or sweets (most of the time).  The Malawians have a fantastic sense of humour, and appreciate a bit of banter and a good laugh.  They also seem to really want to help you – although sometimes an honest answer (no, you can’t get through on that road) would be more helpful than a smile and a yes.

The country was clean and tidy on the whole – particularly in contrast to the litter we experienced in Senegal!  The houses we passed – mostly made from red brick – were in good repair, and the yards were swept every day.  It gave such a good impression.  Even the campsites were swept daily – every leaf and twig that had fallen where it shouldn’t was swept away!

Fuel shortages are a thing of the past, although the price was quite a bit higher than in Zambia.  But the upside meant that we could really tour around the country, and food was available all over.

The local markets were our favourite browsing past-time – you really can by anything your heart desires: from clothes and fabrics, to electrical sockets and relay switches, to fruit and vegetables.  A bit of bargaining, a bit of banter and a big smile are all part of the game!

We loved our time on the lake shores.  It was hard to believe that this wasn’t the sea – the lack of tidal variation did confuse the mind.  Nyika was a very special place to visit – not for the animals, but for the truly unique environment perched at 2,400m above sea level.

Malawi isn’t without its problems.  The country is still enormously reliant on NGOs, aid organisations and charities.  Volun-tourism is big business – swarms of school children pay good money to come and “help the children of Africa”.  I hope the country doesn’t become dependent on this form of “income”, but slowly becomes more economically independent.  Conservation is struggling along, with underfunding a continuous battle, and deforestation is a real threat to the future.

But overall, we met some lovely people, saw some fascinating sites and soaked up the atmosphere.  It was a most unexpected joy spending 5 weeks in the country.  We look forward to visiting again.

2 comments

  1. Vic

    Great stuff… Definitely on our to-do list…

    1. African GirlChild

      You guys will love it!

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