Catch Up, Chill Out


This blog entry about the events of Tuesday, April 20, 2004 was originally posted on April 28, 2004.

DAY 185:  For my stayover in Malawi’s capital city Lilongwe, I gave myself the day to figure out my plan of attack in the country, a day to just chill out and run the errands that I might not be able to do outside of an urban area.

After catching up on Blog duties on my laptop, I walked to the Nico Shopping Center in the Old Town, about a mile away from Kiboko Camp (picture above).  The road there was a walk through what looked like a generic American suburban road with a golf course on the right.  In fact, Lilongwe, the “big city” of Malawi, was pretty much like a big sprawling American suburb.  Nico Shopping Center was more or less a suburban mini-mall, one of the more modern establishments amidst a neighborhood of old buildings and dirt roads.

THE FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS was to change my three million Zambian kwacha to about 54,000 Malawian kwacha — there went my life as a millionaire.  Thirty years ago, one Malawian kwacha was about the same value as one US Dollar, but over time it devalued to the value of one US penny.  The deflation is one of the reasons why crime has escalated in what was once known as “the friendliest country in Africa.” 

Most of the afternoon was spent at internet cafes with slow connections — I swear I spent more time troubleshooting than actually blogging, and at a pretty penny too (over $20!).  It was at the first internet cafe that I met a Bohemian-hippie type from South Africa named Catherine, who had been walking her way down Lake Malawi from the northern part of the country.  The conveniences of modern life — traffic lights and internet, even at 56kbps — were a culture shock for her.  Our encounter was brief, but I did manage to get some recommendations about northern Malawi from her. 

A visit to a nearby cafe/tour office was where I went to investigate organized tours since I didn’t have much time to do things totally independently in Malawi — I only had a two week visa too.  However, all the tours were all out of my price range and so I decided to take Catherine’s advice and head north to Nkhata Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi.  Seeing the lake in the north was recommended to me because I had heard that the intestinal worm infestation bilharzia was less likely to be contracted there than in the south. 

THAT NIGHT AT KIBOKO CAMP, as I was stitching up the conversion pants and swimming trunks that had melted under an iron at the ZEHRP house in Zambia, I befriended Matt and Andy, both from the U.K. but not traveling together.  Matt was on holiday from his volunteer job as a math teacher in Zambia, while Andy was on holiday from his job as an overland truck driver for Oasis Overland Tours, which took mostly British kids right out of high school from Nairobi to Cape Town.  We had dinner in the Kiboko restaurant over the usual travel talk.

Afterwards I just chatted in the lounge with Andy and laid back in a comfy chair with my feet up, catching up on postcards duties to be sent out to Blog Sponsors.  Perhaps I got a little too relaxed and chilled out because I forgot my sandals in the lounge and the next morning they were nowhere to be found — no one knew where they went either.  Oh well, I thought, in a country that may or may not be as friendly as its former reputation, I can only blame myself.

Next entry: A Long Way From Lilongwe

Previous entry: Traveler Again

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Comments for “Catch Up, Chill Out”

  • What a talent! - “stitching up the conversion pants and swimming trunks” ...hehe

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/28  at  02:39 PM

  • links work - no time to read…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/28  at  04:26 PM

  • Catch Up, Chill Out, Loose Sandals…

    ERIK - is mancala the same as nsolo?  i can’t find any rules for nsolo!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/28  at  06:22 PM

  • MARKYT:  Look up rules for “bao” or “bowo” or “bowe” or “bano” (it’s called different things)... its like hardcore sunka!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/28  at  08:41 PM

  • MARKYT:  Look up rules for “bao” or “bowo” or “bowe” or “bano” (it’s called different things)... its like hardcore sunka!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  04/28  at  08:46 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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Next entry:
A Long Way From Lilongwe

Previous entry:
Traveler Again


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