Tuesday 16 September 2008

12th September 08

Date: 12th September 08
Location: Karonga, Malawi
Weather: Hazy sunshine, scattered clouds and cooling as we climb up in height. 30°c
Status: Happy to be moving into a new country and towards the next challenge!

Up at 5.30am and as the sun rose out of the lake I went for a run, the first in a couple of weeks so it was good to get the blood pumping through the legs again, ran down the shore of the lake which was good as the sand made things that much harder!

Once I got back we stretched and did some exercising then had breakfast and got onto the road which headed north to the border with Tanzania, it wasn’t for only 70kms away and we made it in no time on a good road free of potholes. What a wonder Malawi has been as it has some of the best road of all its neighbours….we’ll just have to see how the next few countries compare!

The border was an interesting one, mainly due to the hassling by one particular money changer after he realised he’d cocked up, let me explain. I had a good quantity of Kwacha left over which I wanted to exchange for Schillings, standard protocol at borders is to do this on the black market knowing what the latest internet price is and then ‘working’ with the changer until you agree on an exchange rate which is acceptable to both of you. It works in theory.

Not a bad chap to start off with, I wanted an 8:1 rate based on what I’d found a few days before, being 8.12:1, he accepted, we shook hands and we walked to the shop to change it. When I got there another five guys turned up to watch adding to the pressure, I should have received 340,000 Shillings but then they decided that the exchange rate was actually 6.8:1 and I should only have 290,000Sch……but by this stage he’d counted out 304,000Sch into my hand.

So I’ve been undersold by around 36,000Sch and he wants back 14,000Sch and the actual exchange rate I received was actually 7.1:1. He gets all bolshie and demands the money back so I told him in no uncertain terms that there’s no way that would happen as he’d already shaken my hand for the deal and its him whose gone back on his word! Tensions become frayed shall we say, they follow me closely as I walk back to the colonel and continue to demand their supposed money, and all because their guy was totally dishonest!!

Ha so Bre and I walk together to the immigration and customs desks, get stamped out of the country, befriend the official so she walks out and opens the gate for us, we return to the Land Rover through the crowd of conmen and drive straight out of the country past them!! Of course they follow…..

On arrival in Tanzania we do the usual, passports and carnet, pay the road tax and the insurance which will cover us for the next few countries up to and including Sudan, and then realise that the group have followed us all this way too! I discuss the situation with the officials and they explain that I should simply walk to my truck, lock the door start the engine and drive off. Simple then.

It does all go according to plan and we leave them walking swiftly behind us slowly getting smaller in the rear view mirror, sorry guys but you made the deal and then broke it. Conman 0 – Tourist 1.

Into Tanzania then and the road is another great scenic drive, slowly climbing up into the Kinpengere Mountain range passing through vast tea plantations, banana farms and more agriculture than we’ve seen for ages. A very fertile area with so much fruit and veg available at the sides of the road there’s no need for the supermarkets here!

As we drop in altitude slightly coming into Mbeya were still at 1700m and there’s even some wheat and corn farming which makes the hills appear almost like those in the UK, ahhh.

We stop at the first bank we find, fill the wallets, fridge and fuel tanks and head to the Green View Inn campsite for an early night before starting early in the morning on the drive along the unknown-surfaced road to Sumbawanga and the edge of Lake Tanganika.

Used up the spag bol mix from last night and had it with rice. Mars bar for dessert

End of day location: Mbeya, Tanzania
Distance covered: 167kms

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