KARONGA (Northern, MWI) to IRINGA (Iringa, TZA)
Thursday December 15th, 2016
TODAYS MILEAGE – 307 miles or 494 kilometres
TRIP MILEAGE – 17976 miles or 28930 kilometres
Holy shitballs Batman, what a night. As the sunset, dark sinister clouds were brewing over Lake Malawi, which brought a high level of humidity and little or no breeze as a respite. As most settled down for the evening the humidity and temperate levels seemed to keep increasing. It actually reminded me a lot of the wet season build up in Darwin and that there should have been a huge warning to me.
I'm not sure how my fellow campers Lauren, Kobus & Marcus were fairing, but it took me an eternity to finally get to sleep as I was literally soaking in sweat. I couldn't open my tents door as the fly screen was busted and the windows let no air in to circulate. Around midnight I was awoken to one of the loudest thunder claps I've ever experienced. This marked the beginning of a torrential downpour and while sitting on my bed roll, the near cyclonic winds had simultaneously not only collapsed the tent, but then used it as a sail to ragdoll me around in it. When the wind died down, I sat there for a second or two with my pocket knife in hand contemplating whether to cut myself out of it and deciding where to seek shelter.
The wind abated for a couple of minutes so that I could extricate myself from the canvas coffin, so I took off over to the other three tents to check on the others. I saw Lauren and Marcus head over to the Accommodated area and was finally able to locate Kobus. Everyone who was camping was accounted for - great news. The wind and rain had started picking up again, so between Marcus, Kobus and myself, we emptied all of the tents of all of the occupiers belongings and stored them in the truck.
It's at about this time that the resort security officer asked "what were we going to do about the tents". I remember replying "Have at it, do what you want with them as I really don't give a fuck". Bear in mind the guy just stood there watching us, not saying a word or aiding in any why, shape or form during the whole ordeal. He didn't even ask if we were OK. It was probably best that I kept my distance from him as I was livid. He didn't even try and warn us or get some assistance as the situation could turned tragic very quickly. Our the tents were set up on a bluff about 30 metres above the beach area, so anything could have happened.
By the time the adrenalin had settled down and I got a dry bed sorted out on the sheltered open dining room camp table, the oppressive humidity and heat had returned and had brought most of Malawi's mosquitos with them. I looked at my watch - 3:30AM ..... and we have a 5AM start ..... for a 6AM departure ..... oh FFS!!!
Our early morning border crossing into Tanzania was uneventful, which was a godsend as we were informed that we'd be spending the best part of the day on the road. Just on dusk, we pulled into our campsite at the Old Farm House at Kisolanza Farm which was probably the low point of the trip.
After setting up my still soaking tent, along with its returning black spores, I asked "Two Pula" what my options are if my tent doesn't dry out. His response was an emphatic "not my problem, you're the one who chose camping". Not making excuses for firing back at him, but a couple of hours of broken sleep in 48 hours and the frustrations of having to use faulty equipment all combined in me now being pissed off at his attitude. I bit back by telling Godfree to get fucked as I paid for working and operational equipment, regardless if I'm camping or otherwise and lets not forget that I've been more than obliging after a couple of weeks of sleeping in the obviously faulty tent. I went on to explain that I was more than happy to pay for a room, as I'm not spending another night in a mouldy drenched tent with no air circulation.
All that managed to do was to upset Godfree who gets cranky and says "no one speaks to an African man of his stature in this manner" and storms off.. "Mr T" comes over to have a chat about the situation and I come to find out "Two Pula" has not been feeling well or sleeping much due to issues with vertigo and changes in altitude. "Grillz" comes over to put his valueless 2 bits worth by saying I shouldn't speak to "Two Pula" in such a manner. I explain to both where I'm coming from and my intention wasn't to upset anyone, rather it was a venting that's come about from frustration. They both agree that I do have a valid point but they have no solution, to an issue that was meant to be resolved in Victoria Falls by thier workshop crew checking the equipment that was reported as being faulty - which obviously was not attempted.
I go in search of Godfree and find him in his chalet and sit to have a chat. We had a decent a chinwag which cleared the airasn we get it all sorted. After a handshake and a giggle - we were good to go. All's well that ends well I reckon. As I was leaving his room "Two Pula" mentions he wasn't going to join us for dinner as he'd just crash out and jsut let the other crew know.
With the exclusion of "Two Pula" we all headed over to the resorts Mud Ruins Bar & Restaurant for a catered dinner. During the service, I grabbed a plate, some water, orange juice, a couple of banannas and walked it over to "Two Pula" who was grateful for the effort. I spoke with "Mr T" and I was glad to hear that he'd keep an eye on him overnight.
I end up setting up my bedroll in the open camp kitchen hut and was joined by Kobus up the other end. "Mr T" said I should keep my sleeping bag close by, as it will get plummet overnight.
• IPINDA ~ Oilcom Service Station (Mbeya, TZA)
• TUKUYU ~ Road B345 (Mbeya, TZA)
• RUNGWE ~ Road B345 (Mbeya, TZA)
• MAFINGA (Iringa, TZA)
Day 29 - Tanzania – Iringa
Today we leave Malawi and enter Tanzania. We ascend out of the Great Rift Valley through some spectacular mountain passes, passing vast tea plantations in the highlands before arriving at our camp outside Iringa.