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lilongwe li-long-a-we li-long-a-we li-long-a-we a-weeeeeeeee

The flight from Jordan to Amman wasnt actually that bad. Dave was sat next to a man on his way back from the netherlands who'd had to change four times which also put things into perspective.

But sweaty and sleepy we arrived in Lilongwe airport - full of Lake of Stars tourists, the odd missionary but mostly people coming home. And coming home it almost feels like. From the minute I stepped off the plane i've felt a real calm that i can't really describe. I dont know if it's because everyone speaks slower and drives slower or because it's so beautiful here or what but it just feels....nice.

And it's so green! our first sight was a group of bright purple flowered Jacaranda trees and the drive to the main city was lined with trees and exotic plants with people on bikes and riding on the back of trucks and children in oversized uniforms and ladies in brightly patterned dresses carrying baskets on their heads and all those images that I had in my mind but I was actually here to see it. I was so pleased to be here.

Lilongwe by African standards is a big town we're told, but to us it felt sleepy, coverable on foot and far too relaxed to be a capital city surely. Our hostel was also super laid back with its own bar (showing Top Gear on the telly!) and thank the heaven's above: toast, beans and cornflakes for breakfast! Three things i’ve been craving for the past two months. There were proper supermarkets here which was a real treat to wander down isles and see familiar brands and variety of goods after nothing of the sort in the middle east. This wasnt quite what i was expecting, but it turns out these supermarket goods are mostly imported from South Africa and often out of the reach of people earning say a teachers wage.

Since travelling through quite a lot of the country on a later roundabout bus journey to the festival I can see just why Lilongwe is considered large. Every half a kilometre we would pass a village consistingof a dozen or so square brick houses with conical grass roofs and then every 50km or so would be a larger town of 50 houses and a people selling market goods on the ground. The landscape is dry earth but bushy and dotted with many many green trees and the odd termite mound when it isnt cropland. Although the bus took 6 hours my eyes couldnt take in enough. I made a note of a few things i saw on the way: pairs of women carrying baskets, groups of men sitting in the shade, lone boys walking though fields, goats, herd of humped cows, boy listening to old radio on a wall under a tree, long handled water pumps (like one sided see-saws) at the edge of villages surrounded by many brightly coloured buckets and waiting people, people carrying bags back to the villages, shops with hand painted signs, pink and purple flowered trees, piles of deep red-brown bricks ready for building, grass fences, football goals, half a dozen boys with 5m long sticks trying to shake mangos off the trees, grass fires, evening games of football.

It’s just like you’d imagine really but alive and beautiful.

I was thinking a lot about how life is the same everywhere really but the details are slightly different. Think of clapham common on a Sunday you’ll still see people sitting around in the shade, women carrying babies and people carrying things home from the market

Apologies for the delay in writing by the way. It’s not easy to find internet here. In the internet cafe in Lilongwe my hotmail messages wouldnt send and the blog would even load. Elsewhere doesnt have fixed line, only wireless, so I need to find someone with a laptop I can borrow for an hour at a time to write the text and the three times I tried to use the internet this way there was a powercut which meant the wireless router goes out too...frustrating, but I think this will be the norm from now on m’afraid.

Posted by rachndave 05:36 Archived in Malawi

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