I flew from Mwanza to Dar es Salaam. I arrived in Dar at night, and I had asked for the hotel nearest the airport. Well, that turned out to be a small operation in a sketchy part of town with no electricity. So there I was with my cab driver, driving through neighborhoods with no electricity, asking him for other hotel suggestions, but also bartering/arguing with him about the price of the cab ride. Unlike other major cities, all the big hotels are not near the airports here, so we drove into the city and started going door to door. Some hotels were overpriced – I refused to pay $100 for a room where I would only be sleeping for 5 hours – so we ultimately found a $50 hotel which suited my needs. The same driver returned to pick me up at 3:45AM so I could catch my 5AM plane to Nairobi. When I got to Nairobi, I learned my (ridiculously overpriced) flight to Malawi was delayed by 2 hours because the plane was behind schedule because it had to wait somewhere for some late passengers from Dubai. I guess if you are from Dubai, you can get airlines to work around your personal schedule. After a quick stop in Zambia where we picked up more passengers, I finally made it to Lilongwe, Malawi. My guide, Blessings, was not there to meet me, and I discovered that the particular Tanzania cell provider I was using does not work in Malawi. So… I changed some money, got a new Malawi phone number, and found out that once Blessings had found out my plane was delayed, he returned back to a family funeral. So he sent a driver to get me, then we drove to meet Blessings. He asked me if I wouldn't mind attending the end of the funeral service – his uncle who had raised him had died of diabetes and they were about to do the laying of the wreaths. There were at least 150 cars at this funeral. We walked to the graveyard and I stood in the back while Blessings joined in the wreath-laying. HIs uncle was an important pastor and airline businessman, so every time someone got up to lay a wreath, a speaker with a PA system would announce who they were and their credentials. Occasionally the speaker and some women would break into a song about Jesus. I don't speak the Malawi language (Chichewa), but I could figure out some of what was going on.
En route to the airport, my driver – Mr. Gray (a school teacher) – and I drove past many young boys standing on the side of the road with long sticks. I thought the sticks had large seeds on them and maybe they were selling the seeds? Turns out they were mice or rats on the stick. The boys (who don't go to school) catch them, cook them, and sell them by the road. This is the season for mice – June and July. How lucky for me. Mr. Gray says you take them home and heat them up a little, and they are delicious. Some people don't eat the heads, others don't eat the fur, but most eat the whole thing. Instead, I went and checked into a hotel and had some chicken and carrots and greens, and bundled up in my bed. It's winter and quite chilly here in Malawi. I thought I might not need a mosquito net given how cold it is, but I was wrong. I see several in my room, although they don't buzz like the Tanzania ones. And I'm not sure they are very hungry either, because I don't think any have bitten me yet here, though I shouldn't speak too soon as sometimes bites down show up till a day or two later. But so far so good.
Okay… it's sunrise here now… time to go explore.
P.S. There is no spellcheck on this blogging system, so forgive my errors and typos.