Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Day 329 Mozambique 27/09/2011, Pink Papaya, Chimoio – Pensao Pachica, Inhambane A very early, long and uncomfortable bus journey.

2am and we were awake having managed to get a good few hours of sleep. The security guard walked us down to the bus station along with two other guests Yaser and Zafrana (most recently from Kings Lynn), which was nice as they helped carry some of our bags. We don't mind carrying the panniers for a few metres but they are certainly not designed to be carried long distance. The bus station was quite a distance and by the time we got there are arms were being pulled out of their sockets. We didn't really need the rather predictable statement from the bus crew, that we had too many bags and would have to pay more. Fortunately we stressed yesterday that we had two bikes and ten bags and had had a ticket written out for bikes and luggage. There was no way we were paying more than the steep amount that we had already parted with. Holding our ground we carried the bags round to the locker where the bikes had been placed and with the help of one of the friendlier crew members got our gear loaded. There was no further mention of extra money so we went to claim our seats, which obviously had someone sitting in them. The crew were quickly on the case, the seat thieves were relocated to their correct position and we were under way.

We have been on some pretty unpleasant bus journeys, but this one had to have been one of the worst. The double seat that we had wasn't wide enough for two people, the air conditioning was set to Siberian wind and the music was so ridiculously loud that resting was out of the question. With the arrival of morning bizarrely came silence from the stereo and a cessation of the freezing air conditioning. Obviously now that everyone was awake and the sun was nicely cooking the passengers, there was no need for music and air conditioning!

Eventually after 10 hours we arrived in Maxixe with one numb buttock (that's all the contact I had with the seat), bleeding ears and on a brighter note, two undamaged bicycles.

Leaving one form of transport behind we boarded another. The passenger ferry that would take us over to Inhambane was rather smaller than we had expected. Getting our bikes on board was a rather worrying prospect as the front cargo area was full. For a fee and at the insistence of the crew our bikes were lifted, bags and all, over the rear railings and wedged into place. Getting them on was one thing, getting them off the other end was going to be another. Twenty minutes later and we arrived in Inhambane, where it was a case of closing our eyes as the bikes were manhandled onto the jetty. Despite some less than careful handling, including trying to carry the whole bikes weight using one of the panniers, and my saddle bag becoming detached and floating away (rescued by some quick work by a helper), we got them safely on dry land.

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From the jetty it was a short walk to our stop for the night, 'Pensao Pachica'. The guest-house had been recommended by Debbie's friend Steph who lives in South Africa. It is owned by her friend Dennis, so we had been told to look him up when we got down to the coast. Mainly though, all we wanted to do was get settled, have a shower and put the long journey to get here behind us.

Having dumped our gear and selected a couple of dorm beds we had some food and a walk into what appears to be a very nice little town. If our first impressions of Southern Mozambique are anything to go by, it looks like we are going to enjoy the rest of our time here. We will be spending a day to look round the town and then head to the coast the day after. But for now, it is time to put an end to a very long day.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Day 325 - 328 Mozambique 23/09/2011 – 26/09/2011, Pink Papaya, Chimoio. Lots of resting, reading and Independence Day.

Our stay in Chimoio has been an unintentionally extended one. Due to the distances involved in Mozambique and the restrictions of a 30 day visa, we had decided to take a bus down to the coast. On the face of it, this seemed like a relatively easy option. Generally in the developing world anything is possible provided you are prepared to pay. Unfortunately, this isn't the case if the bus that turns up is too small to put the bikes on! The day that we arrived there was a large bus bound for Maputo, but that was leaving 3am the next day, which didn't fit in with our plans to have a rest. Since then the buses heading in the right direction have all been too small. Consequently we have ended up here for rather longer than planned.

Finally this morning a large bus arrived and with the help of Anya, the Pink Papaya's proprietor we managed to get our bikes on board. All we have to do now is get ourselves and our bags to the bus station at 2:30am tomorrow. The bikes are already locked on the bus, as the crew wanted the bikes loaded before the morning. Obviously we aren't completely happy about the bikes being loaded without us on board. They have however been secured in one of the front lockers, so fingers crossed they will be fine.

The best bit about getting stuck here has been the Pink Papaya and its staff. Had we been staying somewhere less comfortable it could have been quite boring. Chimoio is not the most exciting of places to spend any time and two days of national holidays has meant that the city has been largely closed. As it is, we have been able to cook, rest up and relax in a very friendly environment. Anya has gone out of her way to help and make sure that we are ok, so the time has passed quite quickly. It has just been a little frustrating that our good start to travelling through Mozambique had hit a bit of a wall.

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Outside of reading and relaxing, we went to briefly watch some of the Independence day celebrations (we missed most of them and it all seemed over by 10am) and I spent a large amount of time queuing at an ATM. Because of the holidays people have been rushing to the ATMs to get money before they run out. This has obviously led to some heated behaviour as people have been pushing in, fighting (I managed to get involved in this) and getting frustrated at the machines constantly breaking down. With luck I managed to get money out, as the situation is unlikely to improve before the banks open again on Tuesday.

Other than a couple of trips to the supermarket there isn't much else to report. We have met some great people at the hostel and have received some fantastic accommodation offers for when we get to South Africa. We will however be very relieved to be moving on, it would just be nice if it wasn't at 3am tomorrow!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Day 324 Mozambique 22/09/2011, Free-camp – Pink Papaya, Chimoio. 38.13miles/60.98km, 4hr25minutes, Av 8.9mph.

We had an astonishingly good nights sleep, the tent wasn't as hot as it might have been and the woods were devoid of too many disturbing noises. Exhaustion probably helped as well! Waking this morning we were surprised to find that it was raining. Not a full heavy rain but enough that everything was wet and later covered in damp leaf matter.

The biggest surprise however, came when I moved my wash bag and revealed a very large spider. So large in fact that had it been inclined I could have been involved in a tug of war battle between it and my wash bag; instead it froze solid as did I. Coming back to my senses, I told Debs, who was in the tent, to zip up the inner and I set about moving bags from around it. With a clear tent, I bravely prodded it out with a stick. I have no idea what kind of spider it was, but I had a little moment later when I realised that I could have put my hand on it while getting out of the tent this morning!


Spider incident over and done with, we packed up and rejoined the road. The extra kilometres that we did yesterday, hopefully meant that we would have a shorter day today. Which is exactly what we had, just not an easier one. Any belief that I had that the road would level out when we turned off to Chimoio had proven miss-placed. By the time we arrived in Chimoio, Debs sick feeling had returned and both our limbs and backsides were suffering from a series of long climbs. It was good to know that we have at least one day off before we move on.

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Finding the Pink Papaya guest-house would have been easier with a map and if the road that we needed had been signposted like all the others. With a little help from some locals and ignoring the ones who wanted to send us back the opposite way, we arrived outside. Our plan had been to camp, but unfortunately they no longer allow it so we are stuck with dorm beds. The other two private options are booked up, which is a shame as the dorm isn't particularly cheap compared to the rooms. Nevertheless it seems nice enough, the staff are helpful and we should be able to get some rest.

Heading out for lunch, we ate and then took a street child for a walk round the city. If there was an award for the most persistent beggar, then he would probably have won. His requests for money were eventually thwarted by the guest-house's dogs. Maybe I should offer to walk one when we go out tomorrow!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Day 323 Mozambique 21/09/2011, Catandica – Free camp 30km north of Vanduzi. 53.47miles/85.59km, 5hr56minutes, Av 8.9mph.

We had a nice meal last night and a few beers. The hotel room also got a lot better when I found the switch for the air-conditioner. It was just a shame that I hadn't found it earlier, I should have known to look behind the curtains, obvious really!

Having slept well we went through to have breakfast, which turned out to be a cup of tea/coffee with three biscuits each. This was clearly not enough and as it turned out it wasn't included either, even though we are pretty certain we were told it was. In fact, having milk powder in the drink meant that we had had an extra. Mozambican guest-houses are starting to look dearer and dearer. By the time we had waited for omelette and chips to fuel us for the day, we were late leaving. It wasn't the best start, but at least Debs sick feeling from the day before had gone away.

Having purchased some bread from the guest-house, we stopped just out of town and bought some bananas from a stall. We now had some food for lunch, our supplies are getting a bit thin on the ground and we would be camping tonight.

It may have just been tired legs but the road seemed especially hilly today. I am sure when this route was suggested to me by the people at Kande Beach in Malawi, I was told that it was pretty much downhill or flat all the way. To describe the road going south from Tete as flat, would be like saying that the Lake District isn't remotely hilly!

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As in the previous days we encountered lots of friendly people, although I seem to be a magnet for drunken youths who are ruining it a little for me. Still the vast majority are happy to see us and not just for our money!

Despite the hills and the continued heat we got along well, momentously passing the 6000 mile mark; not bad for a couple of occasional cyclists!

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By 2pm we arrived in Pungue Sul, a small village which according to the map boasts two camp-sites. To miss one of them was unfortunate, but to miss both must be exceptionally bad luck. Strangely the locals, who were very helpful, didn't seem to know anything about them either. Trying to ask if there is a camp-site close by in Portuguese, is only useful if the people have ever heard the word camp-site! With some vaguely offered instructions from one of the guys, that the camping was down the road we set off feeling less than confident. In fact, 20km further down the road we did find a camp-site, but it's a free one in some woods. We are opposite a village but concealed by virtue of a ridge, so hopefully we will be undisturbed.


The toughest thing could be getting to sleep in what is going to be a very hot tent. It might be a bit of a 'catch 22' situation for the rest of our time in Mozambique. We have to camp to keep the costs down, but unless we can find some shade it is going to be too hot to sleep, which is not a good thing when you are cycling. I am sure it will all work out, but it will be nice to make it to a town tomorrow so we can have our first day off in nine consecutive cycling days.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Day 322 Mozambique 20/09/2011, Guro – Topaiz guest-house, Catandica. 49.29miles/78.83km, 4hr57minutes, Av 9.9mph.

Our seventh day straight on the road and a good way to start it was with Debs being sick! She blames a dodgy hard-boiled egg that we bought from a street vendor, but in truth it could be anything. Until yesterday we hadn't treated the water since we arrived back in Africa, working on the basis that we have built up a resistance to any bacteria that may be present. Hopefully it is just one of those non-specific illnesses that will end as soon as it began.

We set off early this morning into a still and therefore very warm day. Having suffered a headwind for so long, we are now almost wishing for its return. At least it would give some relief from the relentless heat. Fortunately, for the first 40km or so, it was fairly flat with some good descents. This gave a weak feeling Debs an easier start to the day.

Arriving in the town, I use the term loosely, of Comacha we stopped for a drink and went to have a look for something to eat. It may have been only 10:30am but Debs was riding on an empty stomach so we needed to get some food. Having had a largely positive experience in Mozambique so far, it was sadly ruined for me when I was pestered by some drunk guys for money and cigarettes. This is the kind of situation that makes me angry, saddened and annoyed. There is no doubt that we are in another poor country, you only have to look around as you travel through. But since when has it been acceptable to sit on your backside drunk at 10am in the morning and then hold your hand out like you are some kind of charity case. I presume that if the guys could afford the alcohol then they could have afforded to eat. Showing someone to a restaurant afterwards and sitting waiting while we eat, so they can use it as some kind of leverage to gain money doesn't make it any better either. Especially as the person in question kept taking a sip from the bottle of gin/vodka that was in his pocket. Instead of donating money to these people, perhaps we should educate them that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

The nice Mozambican guy that we had met on our first day hit the nail on the head when he said “Africans are stupid; if you give them money they will buy expensive phones, clothes and cars and then still sit on the side of the road with their hands out, because they can't afford to eat”. As far as I can see this seems to be the case, however aid is used to assist the vulnerable, throwing money at the problem is not the answer. Actually Debs thought the guy who took us to the restaurant was quite friendly, if a little drunk. I simply can't consider anyone friendly, who is only doing it for the money. Perhaps that is the difference between Debs positive outlook and my one of cynicism. Rant over, at least the restaurateur was friendly and the chips were tasty!

Back on the road and I was in a right grump, fortunately it was softened by some genuine smiling people along the way. You may have to make the effort to speak and wave first in Mozambique, but it is definitely worth it.


The last 30km of the day were tough, the road got hillier and the midday heat made progress difficult. It was with some relief that we arrived in the town of Catandica and found a guest-house. Better still, the woman in charge seems to speak English, which has made things a little easier. The room is nice and the place seems to have quite a busy restaurant, serving what looks like pretty good food. We will be trying the food out later as well as the odd beer. I am already quite fond of the Mozambican beer, especially as they seem to take serving it cold very seriously.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Day 321 Mozambique 19/09/2011, Changara – Guro rest-house, Guro. 46.04miles/73.75km 5hr14minutes, Av 8.8mph.

One year ago today that two inexperienced cyclists rode out of the driveway bound for South Africa. Yes I know that we have been home in the meantime, but it is still a bit of a milestone!

Having slept pretty well we loaded up and were on the road by about 8am. Our first stop was in the town, where we grabbed some supplies for the road. So far we are managing fine with only a little Portuguese. It certainly helps that the locals are really friendly and willing to help.

Today was a tough one on the road. The wind had dropped during the night and with no cooling breeze it was extremely hot going. I seemed to be suffering from general lethargy and the road seemed to climb continually. I am sure that it wasn't actually that steep, but the heat sapped all the strength from both of our legs.


The stretch of road that we were on today was very beautiful but shy of many villages and people. Instead we had the huge lorries for company, one of which was laying on its side. It is difficult to see how the drivers manage to tip their trucks over on what has been a fairly straight road. Since arriving in Mozambique we have seen at least five, clearly speed and lack of driver skill must take some of the blame.

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On a lighter note with the lorries, we saw a huge truck towing a flat bed trailer and on it was one goat tied up. We couldn't help but think that it may have been overkill; the goat looked amused as well as it watched the scenery rushing past.

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Less welcome company today were the flies. A quick blast down a hill was enough to leave them behind, but these were few and far between. Instead we had to resort to waving our arms around at them wildly or else just ignore them. Fortunately they only tended to be in certain areas, so we didn't have their company all day.

Eventually and with tired limbs we rolled into the town of Guro in search of the promised guest-house. When we arrived outside it didn't look terribly promising, but the room has turned out to be alright. We are situated round a little garden courtyard, which hopefully will block some of the noise from the road and bar. Talking of which, that's where we are off to now for a well deserved beer!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Day 320 Mozambique 18/09/2011, Zambeze Hotel, Tete – Changara rest-house, Changara. 57.34miles/91.52km, 5hr56minutes, Av9.6mph.

Thankfully we had a good night sleep and the buffet breakfast was pretty good so the hotel was almost worth the money.

Having woken early we set off at 7:30am heading for the small town of Changara. Knowing that it was on a main junction, we thought that there would be a fair chance of finding a guest-house. Failing that there was always a free camp. We feel much more comfortable about free camping here, than we did in Malawi. The people seem a lot friendlier and are not so in your face.

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After riding out of Tete we were straight into the hills and straight into the wind. Changara, at over 90km away looked like it might be a step too far. Especially as yesterday's overcast skies had given way to a cloudless, very warm day. Still, we pressed on making steady if not rapid progress. After about 16km we were past the steep hills and started to get along better. The earlier winds dropped, which made the cycling easier but certainly didn't help the temperature any.

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As on the last few days we were helped along by the friendly waves and greetings from the local people. We even received the odd wave from some of the many truck drivers that race up and down the road we are on. The giant American rigs are a bit of a feature of the road so far in Mozambique. Thankfully though they have been very considerate of us along the road, generally giving us plenty of space if they can. It will be interesting to see if we encounter many more of the trucks when we reach the turn off to Zimbabwe. It looks like that is the quickest way to get to South Africa, assuming the trucks are heading that way.

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It was a pretty tough cycling day all in all, but by just carrying on we eventually made it to Changara. As we entered the town we saw a sign for a rest-house and went to check it out. Considering the look of the place from the outside they had some surprisingly nice rooms, which is reflected in the price. In fairness we did choose the luxury of an air-conditioned room and could have had a much cheaper fan room. At least this room has a bed big enough for both of us, so there will be no sleeping on the floor. We will be back on the road again tomorrow heading for another potential guest-house. With any luck it should be a bit of a shorter day.

As we have just had dinner, I better add that it was very good and very reasonably priced. Washing it down with a very cold bottle of Manica (Mozambican beer) has rounded up another good day. Roll on tomorrow!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Day 319 Mozambique 17/09/2011, free camp – Zambeze Hotel, Tete. 36.86miles/58.92km, 3hr20minutes, Av 11.0mph.

Sadly having a good day doesn't always translate to having a good night. The wind got up to gale force levels last night and we were buffeted inside our very hot tent. To make things worse, we were camped in an area where the locals had been burning off the scrub; the strong winds not only kept us awake, but carried ash into the tent. By morning everything was covered, which is not what you need when you have had a night of limited sleep. Brushing everything off, we breakfasted, got packed up and hit the road by 7:30am.

The strong winds of last night had died down a little by the time we set off and they had brought with them a much cooler overcast day. This turned out to be a bit of a blessing as our water supplies were a fairly short and we only passed one borehole along the road. We are going to have to watch our water supplies, as getting enough may be difficult. Especially if the temperature gets back to anything like it has been.

The road to Tete was gently rolling and the wind was coming from our side so we made pretty good progress. Once again we received plenty of friendly waves, although the road was more sparsely populated than it had been yesterday. What did come as a bit of surprise was when a light rain started to fall. It barely got us wet, but after not seeing any rain since Kenya it came as a shock. The rainy season in Mozambique shouldn't be for a least another month, so we hope it isn't going to arrive early.

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By mid morning we arrived at the outskirts of Moatize, the large town before Tete. Having passed what looked like a coal mine and several construction company camps, we pulled into a small parade of shops to have a bite to eat. Everything looked very modern and a large amount of the clientèle seemed to be South African construction workers. The small supermarket was full of western brands and unlike Malawi the prices seemed reasonable. Perhaps getting supplies, in the bigger towns at least, isn't going to be such a problem here.

Having had an early lunch we carried on toward Tete, crossing the Zambeze via a large suspension bridge. Guessing the way into the centre, there were no signs, we went to try and find a hotel. This turned into a bit of a nightmare. The prices quoted were staggering and the rooms in the first hotel were pretty awful. The Zambeze Hotel wasn't where the 'Lonely Planet' said it was and was equally as expensive. Debs was shown to a room with a single bed in it and told that it was 3000metical (£70) per night. This is a long way from the prices quoted in our admittedly out-of-date guide book. It looked like we had no choice but to pay the money and stay for just one night instead of our planned two. We are hoping that the high prices are because of the mines and the fact that it is the junction city for people travelling from Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. If the prices are indicative of the rest of Mozambique we may have to leave early.

Leaving our expensive hotel room, we wandered down to have a better look at the suspension bridge we crossed earlier and then found a supermarket to get supplies. Having had a look around, there is probably no need to stay in Tete longer than the one day. It certainly isn't as friendly as the villages that we passed through to get here. Plus looking at the map we are going to be fairly pushed to get through the country and see the places we want to, in our allowed visa time. If getting an extension is anything like getting the visa at the border we may give it a miss and just be here for the month. So far our lack of Portuguese hasn't been a problem, so we should be able to negotiate our way round a restaurant menu this evening and then hopefully get a good nights sleep; or at least Debs will I am on the floor! We have a long way to go until our next guaranteed accommodation.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Day 318 Malawi/Mozambique 16/09/2011, Mwanza – free camp about 60km from Tete. 46.30miles/74.03km, 4hr24minutes, Av 10.5mph.

We were very good last night and only had one beer, our last 'Kuche Kuche' to say farewell to Malawi. Consequently we had a very restful night, which came as a bit of a relief after the previous evening. After breakfast, where we had scrambled egg and chips, (which made a pleasant change) we chatted to two South African guys who we had met at dinner last night. Tearing ourselves away, as our planned early start was no longer that early, we hit the road and climbed up to the Malawi border. Getting signed out was quick and painless, as was changing the last of our Kwacha to Metical. We then started climbing again as we rode the 5km to the Mozambican side of the border.

Arriving at the border I stayed with the bikes while Debs went in to get her visa. She hadn't been gone long when she returned saying I had to come, as she had been told they wouldn't issue a visa. Whether it was all a misunderstanding or they were just being awkward we don't know, because after a lot of sighing and tutting they decided to issue them. The process wasn't very quick, but it was quite professional. Instead of the simple stamp we were expecting they printed out proper visa stickers, complete with our photos on them. By the mood of the issuing officer though, we hope that no one else turned up at the border without a visa after us!

Visa issued, we left the building, changed some dollars with the money changers (which was remarkably hassle free) and headed off into a new country. Fortunately the staff at the border control weren't representative of the people we would meet along the road. Stopping for a drink just across the border we met a lovely guy who had grown up in England, were greeted warmly by the shopkeepers and received warm smiles from everyone. To make things even better, not one person asked us for money!

Getting the visas had taken longer than we expected, so we had no idea where we were going to get to today, or where we were likely to end up staying. Malawi has the advantage over Mozambique of the distances between towns being relatively small. We knew we were heading for Tete, but with most of the morning gone and at least 120km to the city we knew we wouldn't make it.

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With no plans, we decided to just ride and see how far we could get. Despite the temperature and hilly terrain it turned out to be one of the best days in the saddle we have had for ages. Mozambicans are very friendly, if a little shy; a wave and shout of Olá (hello) from us was enough to elicit a big smile and greeting in return.

When we cycled past a group of people sitting round listening to music who offered us some agua (water) we thought we better stop. Either we misheard or they were having a laugh, but the clay pot that I was directed to filled with what looked like very runny porridge, certainly didn't contain water. Or at least that was just one of the ingredients. Having avoided Chibuku (Malawi's home brew beer) on the basis that any beer that you have to shake first and then drink through gritted teeth is probably not good for you! It now looked like I was going to try the Mozambican version. Apparently it was going to give us plenty of strength for the road ahead! Having been handed a largely clean plastic mug filled to the brim, complete with plate underneath as a kind of slops tray, I had my first sip watched on by practically everyone. It certainly has an acquired taste, pretty much like I imagine the sludge left over from fermenting beer that is used as animal feed would be like; just with a much higher alcohol content.

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Debs had a small sip, but was happy to allow me to take one for the team. She is so lucky to have me as food/drink tester and all round sacrificial lamb! The locals all thought it was hilarious and got even more animated when we asked to take some photos. It must have been the beer, but I even had a little dance, which brought about another round of laughter. It was brilliant fun and a terrific experience to take away with us, especially as we had only been in the country for 2 hours.


Back on the road I discovered that the home brew is the gift that keeps on giving. To say that it repeated on me is a bit of an understatement, it will be a while, if ever, before I repeat the experience.

There may have been no more drinking of beer, but the rest of the day was full of smiles, waves and friendly villages. It was also full of a valuable and slightly painful lesson for me. Having stopped for lunch under a tree, I became intrigued by a furry seed pod that was hanging down from a creeper. Brushing it with my hand, the pod released its intensely irritating, barbed hairs into my fingers. Which I then managed to spread to my other hand. Lesson learnt, any vegetation can consider itself safe from any further molestations by me!

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Despite having had a few hold ups and very itchy hands, we had made good progress and started to look for somewhere to stop. Finding a guest-house was definitely out as everywhere we had passed was no more than a collection of huts. Fortunately though it looked like we could probably find a free camp along the road. Everyone had been so friendly that we were pretty certain if we were spotted that they wouldn't mind. Shortly after 4pm we found a pretty good spot hidden from the road. As it turned out it isn't completely hidden as we have been spotted, but the person carried on unconcerned. It has been a very good day and a lovely start to a new country.

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Hopefully it will continue when we reach Tete tomorrow. If our map is correct we only have about 60km to do tomorrow so we should get to the city fairly early. Which is just as well as we have no idea where we are going to stay and the guide book rather helpfully doesn't have a map!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Day 317 Malawi 15/09/2011, Zalewa – Mwanza Hotel. 31.83miles/50.95km, 3hr40minutes, Av 8.6mph.

Having written the blog earlier in the day yesterday, I should mention something that occurred afterwards. When we went to the bar for a drink we met a General in the Mozambique Army, who was to say the least a little intense. He gave us his contact details which may be useful if we are ever brave enough to contact him. He did however buy us a beer which was very nice!

Back to this morning we both came round after a terrible nights sleep. Since leaving Blantyre and heading west the temperature has been rising. Last night has to be the hottest night we have spent since leaving Sudan. The fan helped a little, but was unfortunately so noisy that even ear plugs wouldn't block it out. It was a good thing that we planned to have another relatively short day.

Breakfast was only really notable for the child's plate that Debs food arrived on. It added a novelty factor to the standard egg, chips and bread. Although this time we had a sausage as well! With any luck we will leave the egg and chips breakfast behind when we leave Malawi. Despite eating most of it, I just couldn't bring myself to finish it this morning.

Even though we were on the road just before 8am, it was already very warm. A nice downhill section for a few kilometres kept the wind blowing around us and had a nice cooling effect, it of course didn't last. Before too long we were back climbing as we headed towards the border. Climbing and the temperature, mixed with a total lack of sleep left us both struggling to keep moving. Debs though was having an especially bad time of it.

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Having got within 10km of Mwanza we encountered another climb. By now the temperature was in the late thirties, our water was running low (we hadn't expected the ride to take so long) and Debs was feeling very faint. As I continued up the hill, I saw Debs dropping back. Having secured my bike on the side of the road, I walked back down the hill to give her a hand. As I was heading towards her I saw her drop her bike and all but collapse. When I got to her she was struggling to stand, the heat and lack of energy was getting to her badly. Taking her bike off her I pushed it up the hill while she walked along beside. By the time I had got the bike to where I had left mine, she dropped behind again. Quickly putting the bike down, I went back to give her a helping hand. Eventually I got her into the shade of a tree and found some food for her to eat. Despite her recovering a little the next few kilometres were a real struggle. We made several stops when she started to feel faint again and I was quite concerned whether we would make it to town. Normally having an escort of children is a fun experience, but when you are pretty much staying on the bike by will power alone, lots of kids surrounding you is the last thing you need. Fortunately they were pretty well behaved and a combination of the road levelling out and the sun heading behind some clouds meant that we made it into Mwanza.

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Finding a hotel proved to be more work than we really needed. The first place, that had been recommended to us by a shop keeper, was good but had no restaurant and we have no food. Ordinarily this wouldn't have been a problem as we would just have gone out. Unfortunately it wasn't near anywhere either. The second was cheap and not so cheerful and the third, where we ended up staying, is a little expensive. The main thing is that the room is a lot cooler than our room last night, the restaurant is alright and we are not that far from the Mozambique border.

I have very mixed feelings about our time in Malawi. We have had some great experiences, met some lovely people (most of them western) and have cycled through some lovely scenery. If only the soundtrack to our time here hadn't been 'give me money' then I would happily visit again. From what we have heard from some people who live here, there has been a change in the local populations attitude in the last few months. Undoubtedly caused by their Presidents recent erratic behaviour and increasingly dictatorial actions. Far from the friendly, warm hearted country that we have read about. We have found the people often rude, begging and generally only interested in what they can get out of us. As it is I will be glad to be moving on, another country beckons.