A Travellerspoint blog

A bedtime story

you know, for kids...

sunny 35 °C

One morning the toast monster decided he wanted to go on a hunt. He was going to shoot some animals with his camera.

He packed an overnight bag, and the camera, and Maya wolf, and got into the Monster.

The Monster took them out of the city on the rolling hills, into tall mountains green with grass and yellow with dried maize. They were a lot of people around, but no animals, so they carried on.

They were going up and down and curving around the mountains quite a lot when suddenly the view opened up and they were at the top of a long, wide valley. They couldn’t see where it started or ended (that was because it started many many miles away, on a whole different continent!) but they could see in the distance across some more high mountains.

The valley was lush and green and yellow with some blue swamps. Some bits had maize and mango and avocado trees, but some bits were wild bush which looked perfect for wild animals.

They went down the mountains into the valley, which was very hot after the cool mountain air. They stopped to say hello to the police officers in their tent by the road, who told them there are animals to be found just down the road! The toast monster became very excited.

They rode on and on, the road changing from asphalt to gravel to dirt, until they reached a big gate. It had a sign on that read: Majete Wildlife Reserve.

And there they were, the first animals to hunt: two warthogs politely crossing the road! The toast monster got so excited he forgot to shoot them with his camera.

Most of the animals were having their nap as it was quite hot and sticky. The toast monster and Maya wolf were tired from the long drive so they had a bit of a rest as well in their tent. The tent was very big, it had space for a proper bed and a table, but not enough room for a bathroom. That was outside, with only one wall and no roof.

Toast Monster on the loo

Toast Monster on the loo

In the afternoon the toast monster and Maya wolf met Moyo and Nathan who took them out on a drive.

Out for a drive...

Out for a drive...

The animals must have heard that guests were arriving because a mother elephant and her two cubs came to say hello. This time the toast monster remembered to shoot them:

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A lot of other animals were now awake, grazing and playing. The Waterbuck has beautiful horns and a white circle around his bottom. That way his friends can all recognise and follow each other when they run around.

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Moyo was very good at spotting the animals in the bushes. The shy Nyalas were difficult to spot; they were always hiding because they were embarrassed about the paint dripping down their sides.

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There were a lot of impalas playing together, running and jumping and hitting each other’s horns while their mothers watched by and gossiped. They looked like they were having a great time.

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A bit further away the toast monster saw familiar colours: black and white among all that green. He couldn’t believe his eyes – are there other Newcastle supporters here?! It turned out they were Zebras. They were very friendly, staying for a quick chat before running away.

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Next stop was the Shire river, running down from big Lake Malawi in the north all the way to the mighty Zambezi river down in Mozambique. The hippos were having a bath, diving under once in a while. It was quite difficult to know if you were looking at a rock or at a hippo then!

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Later on, after the toast monster and Maya wolf returned to their tent and were getting ready for bed, they heard noises in the bushes outside their only bathroom wall. It was getting dark and difficult to see, but when they got nearer they saw the elephants were just there, on the other side of the wall, saying good night.

The next day they woke up early and went for a walk with Amado. Amado was a tracker. He could tell which animal passed on the track by identifying its poo. The toast monster was very impressed. The elephants’ poo is quite big and has whole Amarula fruits in it which its stomach can’t digest properly. Amado could also spot footprints on the track. He saw some zebras’ footprints, which were hoofed like horses’. He also saw some cheetah’s footprints! They were out at night, looking for food.

Amado, kicking poo

Amado, kicking poo

Tracking along, they almost bumped into a big elephant who was shaking an Amarula tree. He was making the fruit drop so he could pick them up with his trunk and stuff his face. A little later they ran into the zebras again, who were playing with a couple of impalas.

Walking back to the tent the toast monster spotted a very big spider web. With an enormous spider on it – it was as big as the toast monster’s palm! It was a lady spider called Mrs Golden Web. She had a black and white front and when she turned in the sun her belly was shiny and golden. Her husband, small and red, was sitting under a leaf.

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The toast monster was having a great time. He was thinking about Ben, Leo and Charlie and wishing they were there with him. But now it was time to go home, and the toast monster, Maya wolf and the Monster rode back across the wide valley and up into the mountains and down onto the city in the rolling hills, and into bed.

Posted by TattoodDuck 13:58 Archived in Malawi Tagged animals africa safari majete bedtime_story Comments (1)

Death of a President

English translation of last post

On Thursday the rumours started that the president had a cardiac arrest. In the office everyone passes them on, mobiles ringing. People are smiling, saying it’s the best thing that can happen to Malawi. The rumours are getting stronger, and some websites are saying he is dead, but there’s no official confirmation. Someone says he is dead, and it’s official – her sister heard from her husband that his cousin is a friend of the hospital’s cleaner (word for word!). At night we go to our usual pub, the TV is on football as per usual. We’re drinking with some ex-pats and locals, and the rumours keep flowing. Someone gets a call from one of the European ambassadors, saying he has spoken to a senior surgeon from the hospital, and he is dead. There is still no official confirmation, but once in a while one of the locals gets a call and happy cries enthuse. Now the government is finally communicating with the media – he is flown to South Africa – but there’s still no confirmation of his death. Tomorrow is Good Friday, someone says, maybe he will be resurrected on Easter Monday?

Early Friday morning we go to the lake. There’s still no confirmation, but locals are already treating him as the ex-president. The Monster doesn’t have a radio, so once we get to Fat Monkey’s at lunch time we go to the bar to hear the updates. The TV is, of course, on football. Barman Chris is switching to the news, and the locals are getting nearer to hear. There’s still no confirmation. Speculation starts. It’s clear why the government doesn’t want to declare that the president is dead – constitutionally, the vice president Joyce Banda will take over as president until the next elections in 2014. Problem is, she was expelled from the ruling DPP party over a year ago, and started her own party. Since then she was excluded by the president from all her duties, and cabinet members have been trashing her in the media daily. So not only the new president will be from a different party, it’s likely they will not have a job the next day...

Saturday morning the TV is not on the football and we suddenly hear cries of joys. Finally all involved have understood a coup will not be possible in laid back Malawi, and the government is confirming that the third president of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, had passed away from a cardiac arrest on Thursday and his body was flown to South Africa for embalmment. Joyce Banda is sworn in as the fourth president of Malawi, the first woman to become a head of state in Malawi, and East and Southern Africa.

Tuesday, back in the office, the atmosphere is great. People are happy talk about a feeling of relief when the rumours were verified – that he is no longer the president, that there is hope for the country, and also, simply, that that man is dead. During the week Mrs Banda had already fired the Information Minister, who banned BBC World Service and Nyasa Times, one of the only independent media outlet in the country; re-open the British High Commission and invite back the High Commissioner, who was expelled after British bi-lateral funding was cut off due to governmental corruption; Agree conditions with Hilary Clinton for a power infrastructure revamp grant that was suspended after last July’s demonstrations against the regime, when 20 people died after Bingu ordered to shot to kill; and fire the Chief of Police, which on top of the responsibility for the previous item, rumours are that he killed a few people without justification or judgement.

On Thursday I keep coming back to Rabin’s murder. I’m sitting in my station in the army base, on shift when everyone else are busy cleaning and cooking our traditional Saturday meal. The phone call from HQ, me screaming on the intercom to the others to turn the TV on, now! All of us sitting huddled in front of the TV in utter shock for half the night, until a decision is made to drive 6 hours to Jerusalem, to pass before the coffin, to show our respect. There is no connection, no similarities between what Israel and its people went through that day and what Malawi is going through today, but I cannot help remembering, and be shocked and pained again.

The atmosphere here this week is completely different to what we’ve experienced in the last two months. Except actually having fuel in the gas stations (donated by Zambia), there is no real change in people’s life here. But you can actually feel the hope, the relief. I hope Joyce and her government will continue the good work done by Bingu in his first term, and the warm, hospitable people of this country will no longer have a hungry season or sick children.

Posted by TattoodDuck 12:40 Archived in Malawi Tagged malawi Comments (0)

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