Republic of Malawi


Locals walking along the road to Senga Bay, Malawi — October 14, 1998


MV Ilala sailing past an old dock, Nkhata Bay, Malawi — October 1998

Photo by Todd Monge

Our home for nearly one month, Africa Bay Backpacker’s, Nkhata Bay, Malawi — October 1998


Local kids, Nkhata Bay, Malawi — October 1998

Photo by Azaroafrique

Chibuku bus, Nkhata Bay, Malawi — November 1, 1998

Photo by Nicole

Todd sailing, Nkhata Bay, Malawi — October 1998


Sunrise, Nkhata Bay, Malawi — August 18, 1998

Photo by Todd Monge

Sam on the dock, Africa Bay Backpacker’s, Nkhata Bay, Malawi — October 1998

Photo by Todd

Nicole sailing, Nkhata Bay, Malawi — October 1998

Photo by Azaroafrique

Dugout canoe on Lake Malawi, Nkhata Bay, Malawi — November 1, 1998


Give me 10 kwacha, Nkhata Bay, Malawi — October 1998


Chibuku bus, Nkhata Bay, Malawi — November 1, 1998

Photo by Todd Monge

The rickety dock at Africa Bay Backpacker’s, Nkhata Bay, Malawi — October 1998

Photo by Todd Monge

Africa Bay Backpacker’s, Nkhata Bay, Malawi — October 1998

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Malawi 1998 Journal

5 August, 1998 — Welcome to Malawi

We reach the Tanzania-Malawi border. Greg is instigating the border change hawkers, and Jocelyn and I pour gas into the tanks. (I spill all over J.) We spend the rest of our Tanzanian Shillings on water and cookies and head into Malawi.

The border station is quite mellow. Just a large brown corrugated metal canopy over some small offices. There is an overland truck pulling up preparing for immigration and customs. We pass it up in hopes to cut in front of their line; we don’t want to wait for 40 18-something Europeans to get the stamps. We are successful.

It being later in the day, we head to the nice Rest Camp in Karonga. A nice sunset walk on the beach and a nice 15 MK ($0.75) Chambo (fish) and rice dinner at some local dive. Drink a couple of ice-cold Carlsbergs and enjoy the coming of a full moon over the refreshing Lake Malawi.

Malawi map | Our Itinerary

6 August, 1998 — Karonga (Let’s fix the alternator)

The car absolutely will NOT start. We push, push, push, but have no luck. Finally a Suid African trio manage to jump start us after connecting their car to our car via jumper cables and about ten minutes of high revs. We conclude that our alternator has failed so we drive to a local welder/electrician guy. This man attempts to rebuild our alternator while I enjoy another 15 MK Chambo this time with rough tomato soup. (No food poisoning.) Finally things appear fixed on the man closes Breakfast’s bonnet with a slam. We decide to stay another night at the Rest Camp where we enjoy a fine homemade chicken dinner.

7 August, 1998 — “The Worst Road in Africa”

And the next morning we begin our trek down “The Worst Road in Africa.” And it is indeed SHIT. But, somehow, I am beginning to enjoy pothole roads. We take it slow, stopping along the way at some small village where I witness my first boa-board game. Several hours/38,954 potholes later, we arrive to Chitimba and manage to find a campground just purchased by some Brits whom we met in Nairobi just some months ago. Nice place, amazing beach, and my first plunge into the healing waters of Lake Malawi. We enjoy some expensive beer—overlander prices. An hour later we are clinging to the steep, 20 switchback, boulder road to Livingstone. It is during this ascent that we first notice a slight rhythmic clicking noise emanating somewhere within the Breakfast’s loins. We ignore the noise for now.

High in the mountains among pine trees we arrive. The place resembles the Sierra Nevada mountain in California and I feel at home. We enjoy a nice dinner. After dinner, I hear my first exposure to Senzo, the South African reggae artist whose music I grew to love as our journey progresses. And crash outside in the crisp, mosquitto-free air.

8 August, 1998 — What’s the clicking noise?

Clicking getting worse. Even worse after the decent back down to normal altitude, and finally in Mzuzu it is downright awful. It hurts to listen, but the sound overwhelms the air. Todd wants to stay in Mzuzu until Monday, but it being Friday, I say “No mon, let’s push on and solve the problem in Nkhata Bay.” Click, click. Several witch doctor later, we are on a beautiful “Bonny Dune” type road winding and descending back down to the inviting lake. Click, click. We buy some firewood, take a picture, and we are there at Africa Bay. Several beers and one spacecake later, I am laughing outta control at Murray Power’s “soft-jazz-DJ-afternoon-show-radio-voice.” It is damn good. The whole while I am gazing out at the lake at the midnight fishermen. Their bright lanterns persuading bugs tom come close, attracting fish in the process creates a shimmering spectacle across the horizon contrasting the pitch night sky. It is mesmerizing.

9 August, 1998 — JG RIP

The three-year anniversary. Wake up. Deep breaths. Give thanks. I miss you. I walk downtown. Discover the day market lady and her tasty rice, beans, and tomato sauce. I spot a guy with a Steal Your Face tattoo. We chat, and I jump on top of some guy’s Landy and we are off, puffing a spliff of some fine Malawi wowwi. We end up at a beach near Njaya, where there is a camp fire; we are swimming, puffing, sharing stories. A nice day and I eventually walk back to Africa Bay.

“Wholly Shit!” The internal organs of breakfast are strewn all over the place and it stinks like, like, well quite frankly like nothing I have ever smelled before: a mixture of rotten grease, dirt, straw, shit, and a bit of hell. Greg, smiling, “Jocelyn found a mechanic, it’s now or never.” I think, I get drunk, and I eat more space cake. Again, as the night progresses, I watch the fishing boat on the lakes—bright shimming lights slowly moving across the lake in the distance. Eventually and reluctantly I slither into my bed next to a snoring Jocelyn and a squirming Filipino butt. Yikes.

August 10 - 18, 1998 — Space Cake

These next few days are a bit blurry, so there will not be that much here.

10 Aug, 1998 - ?

11 Aug, 1998

Bought a cool teak pipe and sanded it.

12 Aug, 1998 - ?

13 Aug, 1998 - ?

14 Aug, 1998

Went shopping for some last-minute souvenirs. Bought a beautiful fish Chef’s Chair and village-life batik; Gearbox is “finished” and we have our first click-free drive.

15 Aug, 1998

Chill out, relax, and say good-bye to our friends including Murray Powers, Ben, et al.

16 Aug, 1998

Leave Africa Bay early and drive all the way to Salima, find the fried small birds, Greg eats one, go to Lilongwe, can’t find a place to sleep. End up at some random local hotel, nice dinner, camp in the backyard.

17 Aug, 1998

Awaken in Lilongwe at some ant infested dump. Go get money. Get Moçambique visa. Drive south. Stay at the Mwanza Hotel on Malawi/Moçambique border.

18 Aug, 1998

Wake up at 5:00 in the dark and exit Malawi.

Next country: Moçambique


Countries visited - Africa 1998 - 1999

Africa route map

Our scehdule

I am not sure how it all got started. It wasn’t a magical spark of lightning that began the cataclysm, nor was it the supreme words of a higher being sending us on our way. Somehow, though, the powers of the universe contrived enabling our journey through the Heart of Africa.

It began quite innocently as an alleged trip to Bulgaria and Romania. This idea was eventually vetoed and placed “on hold” for future girlfriends. Zap—a long awaited spark was kindled—The Middle East: Yemen, in particular. And the visas were applied for, the air tickets purchased; and on a fine March 4th day we were on our way aboard a gleaming Air France 747 en route to Cairo, Egypt, via a five day layover in France.

We never did make it to Yemen, nor the Middle East for that matter; we headed South, instead, into the Heart of Africa, and what follows is the story of events as they unfold.

Egypt Ethiopia Eritrea Botswana Tanzania Madagascar Namibia Zambia Kenya Zimbabwe South Africa Uganda Malawi Mozambique