Thursday, 1 September 2016

Third Day Third Continent

The overnight flight went well. I decided to be preemptive in my migraine management and take my maximum medication to be prepared for the long day of travel into Malawi. It was the right choice and I am grateful to have slept most of the way. I seem to be getting skilled at handling these long haul journeys.
We arrived in Johannesberg on time with just enough time between our tranfer to have a spot of breakfast, take our malaria pills and check in online. 

Unfortunately, I had received an email from British Arirways that one of my checked bags hadn't been tagged properly and wouldn't be on the flight from Johannesberg to Malawi. This was a problem as this was the group of bags that had been re-packed in Toronto so we weren't sure what was in each one and which one was going to be a problem. I checked the tags on my boarding pass and noticed the one that didn't have the code to get to Malawi. I decided to take a chance and see if we could find a miracle and get it found in Johannesberg. I scrambled to the South African Air counter and explained the situation. Kalemo, the CSA was able to track down my bag and made a few phone calls. He said that they were going to get it on the plane. I was hopeful but not completely convinced but there was nothing more that could be done. If it didn't make this flight, we wouldn't see this bag until  Saturday.
This is where you have to take things as they come and adapt to the situation when travelling. 
We boarded our flight to Malawi and I knew that there were going to be more troubles ahead. First, it was a smaller plane and my seat was directly above the wing and engine. Worst case scenario for my headaches. Also, I had a clear view of the luggage being loaded and not only did I not see the bag that we had tried to locate get loaded but also my large purple bag was no where in sight. Cathy said she thought she had seen it but I just knew it wasn't there. Again, there was nothing I could do at that point. I spent the flight trying to keep from getting sick and mentally doing inventory of what was in each suitcase and what I would have to do without.
We landed in Malawi, 
The mountains rising up in the distance over the dry land. The rainy season won't start until November.
We disembarked and we checked at immigration. Karen was stopped by the doctor and almost not allowed into the country because she had recently been to Mexico and they were concerned about Yellow Fever and she wasn't vaccinated for it. First, I'm REALLY glad I went for ALL the shots even if they weren't required. Second, we are grateful that our host Silas was able to interveen and she was allow to continue.
One crisis averted but now we had to deal with luggage. Yup, 2 of my 3 bags had not arrived. I was totally cursing the agent in Toronto who had made us re-pack but there was nothing I could do. Eye glass repair supplies, tools, most of our medical supplies, my water filtration bottle, Cathy's printer, and a lot of glasses were not here. Also 1 of Bryan's bags that was almost all glasses had also not arrived. We had to complete paperwork and figure out a plan to get by with what we had arrived with. That
plan was to go to Canada house, take inventory and rearrange our supplie before we headed to our first destination, Zomba.

Yup they are tying the hatch closed with all our luggage. We had a convoy of 5 vehicles to get us through the city.
The roads are better than I expected and it is a very mountainous area around Blantyre.
More people walking and cycling and fewer motorcycles than other places I have been.
It is a hazy warm day about 24C with no humidity.
We arrived at Canada House and quickly went to work to organize ourselves.
Bryan said we really needed a whole day to do this type of work. I agreed but we didn't, we had less than an hour so let's get it done and back on the road.
I was ever so grateful that the one bag that did arrive had my MOST essential supplies. In the hurriedness of repacking, I had held together and God's hand had guided what was going to get me through. My ice packs, head lamps, batteries, the eye charts, bug spray and suncreen, my bed net and shower shoes. 
The team pulled it together and we loaded up 2 vehicles for the 2 hrs dirve into the mountains to Zomba.
Gas is 788 Kwachas per litre. 750 kwacha per $1US.
It was a beautiful drive with Macadamia nut trees growning on orchards along the way
And lots of small produce stands where tomatos, red onions and sugar cane are in season.
Leaving each city is a police stop to check for criminal activity. Unfortunately we got stopped at one of them.
Xander, our driver got out to speak with the officers and another came over to my window. "Hello, where was I from? What was I doing in the country? How long was I going to be there? Did I have a business card and contact information? Did I have my passport? Was I definitely going back to Canada?
I answered all his questions politely and with a smile. We were grateful once again when Silas pulled up and saved us from the situation. Apparently our vehicle was insured to carry people but not all the baggage? Seriously! The spedometer wasn't even working!
Bryan was willing to leave me behind as an offering/sacrifice but that didin't seem necessary this time.
We were released without incident and arrived at the guest house in Zomba. 
The living room
Sara and I are sharing this bedroom that has an ensuite.

It is a lovely place on a hillside that apparently doen't have electricity right now....maybe not until tomorrow.

But there are monkeys crawling around the fence in the yard. We got settled into our rooms and went back to the village for a very Western meal of burgers, grilled chicken and fries.
After dinner Cathy, Silas and I went shopping for supplies to have to cook breakfast in the morning.
Chocolate bars are about $1CND
I also need to get a SIM card so that we have internet access for the next few days.
It was pitch black by 6pm and the city wound down as there are no street lamps. Back at the guest house it was candles and headlamps to get us through the night. 
Most of us really just needed a shower and a good night's rest. 
I needed to unwind a bit so I enjoyed the quiet of the porch with Hadi, another guest staying here. He is pediatrician from Toronto who has been here for 6month training doctors how to treat sick children. He will be here for 1 more month then go back to Toronto.
Malawi we have arrived.

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