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A Journey

In: People

Submitted By infurneaux
Words 703
Pages 3
When someone asks me what I’ve done with my life, its always the same answer, its easy– Malawi. I had long dreamt of Africa and at the age of 20 I packed my suncream and khakis and off I went.. on a Jumbo from Heathrow Airport. The Journey was a like a taster for what would come before. There were the obvious Malawi nationals, no doubt returning home with stories of lands afar to tell their families, there were toughened looking tanned expat types, and a number of what seemed to be Chinese businessmen, likely to be going to sniff out opportunities for investment. I was seated next to two twenty-something’s, each of us travelling for different purposes. One was going for business, he was working for a company which sold water cleansing machinery, one was travelling to meet his brother who had recently eloped to live with his Malawian wife, and there was me.. going to live in the deepest outset of one of the most untouched and rawest areas in the world – on a whim. I had arranged an internship with an Englishman by the name of Geoff who was doing his best to extend a helping hand to the locals, but this was the only security and comfort I had, and any other arrangements would be made by myself alone. What we did all have in common though, was that we had absolutely no idea what to expect! Touchdown. An hour of queuing for Passport control and Luggage claims and I had arrived.
It wasn’t the sweltering heat or the fact that Lilongwe airport resembled more of a disused Primary school that sticks in my mind about my arrival, it was the Smiles. The most honest, genuine smiles in all the world. The taxi Journey to my camp for the night was like an interrogation. I bombarded the taxi driver with questions about every aspect of my new environment. I wanted to know everything! “Why was that man giving that goat a piggy back?”, “Is that the school that Madonna is building?!”. He answered all of them, in the typical warm Malawian way, with a glint in his eye and a cheeky glistening grin.
Lilongwe is a Bizarre city, there are people everywhere. From girls balancing monstrous stacks of wood on their heads whilst having a baby snuggled on their backs to the young, eager looking businessmen wearing tailored suits with briefcases. The driver told me they come from their homes in the depths of the Malawian forests in search of a more substantial lifestyle, and to support their families back home.
Following a sufficient night’s sleep in camp, I set out at five to catch the daily bus to the North. Despite having to navigate my way through a huge mass of morning bustle at the station and being conned by a ‘friendly’ young gentleman who convinced me to give him 500 Kwacha (£2) to put my bags onto the bus it was a relatively easy process to find the right service. I found my seat next to a young girl, maybe 16 or 17 who was breastfeeding her baby like it was the most natural thing in the world, and to my other side there was some goats tied in the aisle – It was then that it dawned on me that I had found what I had been looking for. Everything somehow made more sense than anything back in England, it all seemed so natural – it was REAL.
The journey was long but thoroughly inspiring. Passing through village after village, each stop seeming to invoke a frenzy amongst the locals. Crowds of children would charge round the bus offering their various produce, from fresh chicken heads and feet to bottled coca cola. After a while the stench of sweat and animal faeces coming from the various non human passengers on the bus started to take its toll and when the driver informed me that I had reached my stop It was rather welcome news. As I said my thankyou’s and the bus drove off into the distance it finally hit me that I was actually there… the ‘Warm Heart of Africa.

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