It took me a while to get to this point, to write about my trip to the ‘warm heart of Africa’ for the Lake of Stars Festival at Salima, Malawi. See, there are some experiences you feel unworthy of documenting. You don’t want to taint them, just to tuck them away in a good place of memories. Well, since I started this damn thing where I share my travel explorations, I’ve had this nagging guilt. Like I was letting you guys down or something. So here I am, telling all in hopes of alleviating the guilt of this previous selfish decision of keeping this experience to myself.
It’s a 12-hour trip to Malawi on road from Harare, well, that’s what I was promised anyway. Most buses from Roadport only offered the Harare to Blantyre route, this was slightly problematic as I’d be meeting with Khumbo a fellow #ENTHUSE-iast in Lilongwe. I just by chance came across one of the two buses that frequent Lilongwe thrice a week. On an early Thursday morning, I raced into a stuffy semi-worn-out coach whose name was Three-Star.
You’d have thought the name was a dead giveaway…
I realised that although we hadn’t started off, Harare was left behind the second I hopped in. Variations of what I assumed was chiChewa being murmured in multiple conversations. I shrugged off my anxiety and grabbed a seat next to a lady old enough to be my mum. The lady was cross-border trader whose name I would never know despite the great long-winding conversations we’d soon have. There we were, two ladies on a three-seater; big-girl-relief washed over me.
The ride would be alright.
About an hour later we set off headed towards Nyamapanda border, this would be my first time past there. A lady prayed for us at the young multilingual conductor’s request, I prayed along fervently, I had no idea what to expect. My first mistake was not buying a hot meal whilst in Harare, the bus would not be stopping anywhere else except at the borders; an efficient inconvenience.
As we rolled past Mutoko Centre, I realised this was the closest I had been to my roots in nearly a decade. Yikes! A couple of hours more we had arrived at a very underwhelming border post. I certainly expected more of…I don’t know, action maybe?
What I got instead was a very quiet border post with the occasional haulage truck and SEARING heat!
My standardized, all-black leggings gear was not a compliment either. The air was dry and the Cholera scare made me too prudent to buy a freezit (ice-lolly) for my pain, snob much?
It was at the border I met the first fellow Zimbabwean Festival goer. Her name was Anita and we got on like a fire, mostly because of the heat. The fellow flower child was a student at a local University and had decided to road trip her way to Malawi as I had.
To our detriment, the conductor sternly discouraged border-selfies. It was almost as if he could read my mind. I was itching to take one right in front of the blue old immigration building just for you guys but alas, we took bus selfies instead.
The second we crossed the border into Mozambique, EVERYTHING changed. Temperatures rose to unbearable levels and the terrain towards Tete was dry and parched. It was so hot we closed our windows to keep the heat out. At this point, I wasn’t quite sure why I was in that bus, or if Sauti Sol and Major Lazer were really worth it…
***End of Part 1***