This blog is coming to you from Kande Beach, half way up Lake Malawi

It’s 04.00 a.m. and i’m listening to the waves as they crash down onto the sandy beach. It is same same to being at the sea. Except that it’s down hill to the sea.

The South Easterly wind was at our backs all day and even Alistair and I flew the 130 km, arriving in time for lunch. The A Team which now consists of all the other riders got in an hour before us. I like riding in the B Team with Alistair because he has a feminine side that cannot pedal past a market without stopping to shop. The doughnuts he buys are especially delicious and unless I do more exercise, I’m going to put on weight. I love the markets in Malawi. They’re quirky with way more energy than markets at home.

The unexpected half a rest day was a bonus for my weary legs especially and could not have come at a better time. Some of the team lolled in hammocks on the beach, catching up news from home, others cleaned their bikes. Mostly I got to grips with my bloody kit bag. I left home with a bag full of adapters, power banks and charging cables but haven’t seen them since Mozambique. I think my kitbag flogged them off for beer money.

Rooting around the bottom of the dreaded kit bag, I found my stash of Best Wishes Chicken Legs cards, sent to me by the kids at Open Minds school just before we left. They put such a smile on my heart and energy back in my legs.

I’ve enjoyed riding this stretch of the lake. There is way less people pressure and more natural vegetation surviving. And less in your face begging. Although I did have the one little chap run in to the road to ask me “How much banana?”

We rode through the massive Dwanga sugar estates complete with a refinery and an ethanol plant which is the first commercial agriculture that I’ve seen in Malawi. It was also the first irrigation I’ve seen which is a crazy bordering on criminal waste of resource.

Owned by Ilovo, the estates provide formal employment for a huge number, plus they mentor a bunch of smallholder outgrowers alongside, providing an off take market for their crops. From what I can see Ilovo have done more uplifting of lives economically than all the churches and mosques we’ve ridden past in the last three days. On that front, I’ve got the Anglicans out in front, with Pentecostals, Lutherans, Seventh Days, and Catholics chasing with Islam putting in a late charge.

Commercial agriculture has to be the way forward for Malawi, and Zimbabwe. Please take note President Ed.

I am very bleak with news from home that Ed’s is talking about the return of the Zim dollar complete with bullshit foreign currency restrictions by the end of the year. The RTGS rate is now out to 10. It looks like we’re going back to being millionaires, billionaires and trillionaires. Which so so sucks. Alas.

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Tomorrow’s ride to Mzuzu will be short, just 107 km but with a massive climb of 2000 meters. Ouch. Until then, survive and enjoy if you can.

Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

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