13/12/91

FRIDAY 13 DECEMBER Steve and Nick left early to hitch south, and Linda went into town with Ross to get her haircut. I walked into town later on and met them at Wimpy’s and we got some takeaways there to eat in the park. After lunch, we went to see the bizarre film Edward Scissorhands at the Kine 4 cinema, which cost us Z$6 each, then went back to the hospital. 

We finally managed to get hold of Scotty and arranged to meet him at a restaurant called the Tobacco Barn at 8:30. Linda Ross and I went along and had a good night out.

12/12/91

THURSDAY 12 DECEMBER We posted our stuff: 5 boxes-full and all and it cost us a mere Z$21-50. We went and changed 250 quid on the black market with a bloke called Edwin, then went and paid for our flight to Nairobi. I caught a taxi out to Blakiston School and spent an unproductive half-hour there trying to get some information out of the headmaster, who didn’t know anything.

All I found out was his [Lionel Blakiston’s] name and a few small details, and when I asked if I could take a few photos he gave me a letter to take to the ministry of Education requesting written permission which would take a week to obtain. So I took a few photos anyway and left.

I met Ross, Linda Nick and Steve at Wimpy’s and we went to the Mosaic Cafe in the gardens for lunch then back to the hostel for more food and beer.

11/12/91

WEDNESDAY 11 DECEMBER Linda and I spent most of the day sorting out and posting our carvings home. We scoured the back alleys for boxes and packaging, and bought a book called Snowcaps on the Equator¹ which we included in our packed goods. We spent a lot of time drinking beer at the hotel bar as well. 

At night Linda and I went out for a meal at a restaurant called Clovergalics.

¹ We still have that book on our bookshelf!

10/12/91

TUESDAY 10 DECEMBER Our first stop after getting a taxi into town was the Post Office where Linda got 5 letters and I got two. We found a cafe and read them then walked up to the Terreskane Hotel to try and track down Scotty [our driver from the Kumuka overland we did back in 1989] but he had moved so all we could find out was his phone number. 

Within caught a taxi out to the Indian Embassy where we had heard the usual spiel about visas taking a week to get and costing a fortune. They were quite helpful though and we found out that it was possible to get our Indian visas in Pakistan, so we decided to leave it until we were there. 

Then we made an extraordinary discovery: Blakiston Street and Blakiston School! The taxi driver who had waited for us at the embassy dropped us off on Blakiston Street and we took some photos of the sign, then started off up the long tree-lined street towards the school. A further surprise greeted us at the school’s gate – school motto and coat of arms were mine! 

We went in and spoke to the principal who didn’t seem to know anything about the history of the school, but an old white chap told us that it was founded in 1945 and named after one John Leonard (or Lionel) Blakiston who was a telegraph technician and helped rescue a group of children and women trapped at a mine during the Mashona Wars in the 1880s.¹  

I made an appointment to come back and see the headmaster on Thursday then we had a look around the school hall, where the name Blakiston was everywhere: on shields, on billboards, and lists of past scholars. And above the stage was the coat of arms and the Blakiston family motto: Do Well and Doubt Not. 

The old white guy, who was a clerk or something at the school, gave us a ride over to the Sheraton Hotel, as it was hosing down with rain, and from there we walked back into the centre of town. After a lunch of scrumptious steak pies, we went and found Global tours & Travel, where we had been told we could get a cheap flight and pay in Zimbabwean dollars. Sure enough, we were able to book two seats, one-way, to Nairobi on the 2nd of January, and the cost was Z1,27 5 each or about 68 quid. Not a bad deal considering the other travel agent we had seen had quoted us 264 pounds payable and hard currency. 

In the evening we all went to a restaurant called Homegrown for a lot of food!


¹ The Mashona Rebellion was an uprising against the white settlers of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) bt the Matabele and Shona peoples. Read more about it in this Wikipedia entry.

9/12/91

LUSAKA TO HARARE Herman gave us a ride out to the edge of town and we only had to wait for half an hour before a bloke gave us a ride in the back of an old ex-army armoured car. The ride cost us ZK250 each but we had money to get rid of so we took it. The border was a breeze, our currency declarations not even looked at, and we stashed a lot of money as we walked across the bridge spanning the Zambezi River. 

The Zimbabwean customs officials were polite and efficient, but no one asked us to prove how much money we had declared. One of the immigration officials jacked us up a ride in an air-conditioned Toyota Landcruiser for Zimbabwe $25 each and we made the 380 km trip to Harare in 3 1/2 hours. On the way, we saw a pair of elephants walk leisurely across the road in front of us and amble off into the bush. 

It was raining lightly when we reached Harare about 4:30 p.m. and we walked up to Sable Lodge. It was just like the backpackers we were remembered in Australia: full of a varied mixture of backpackers, a good bar, pool table, and dormitories crammed full. We changed money with a Russian guy, then went on the rampage at a nearby restaurant where we ate the largest and tastiest steaks we have ever seen.

Sable Lodge

8/12/91

SUNDAY 8 DECEMBER We left the hotel at 6 a.m. and walked into town, then sat and waited in the main street for Herman. A woman came up to us, her body wasted with AIDS. She was shaking and had a disgusting cough that turned our stomachs, and after a while, we got sick of her jabbering until some kids threw stones at her to chase her away. 

Herman picked us up at 9 a.m. It was a long drive, but the road was good and we passed the time by playing arsehole in the back of the truck. We reached Lusaka at 6 p.m. and drove round to the Dutch Reformed Church College to drop off the three South African people – who were God botherers – and ended up staying for dinner there. The atmosphere was heavy with religion, however, and the 5 of us sinners – me, Linda, Steve, Nick, and Herman – didn’t quite fit in…but a free feed was good. 

About 8:30 we drove to the house of an expatriate who puts up Overland trucks. It was 5 US dollars each a night to stay there, and the house was full of beer, stereos, comfy furniture, and hot water. Linda went to bed and the rest of us at around drinking beer talking about Africans, rugby & travel.

7/12/91

SATURDAY 7 DECEMBER – ARSEHOLE We met Steve and Nick at the roundabout below the golf club, and we hiked out of town to another roundabout where the road lead to the border. We had a couple of signs with HARARE PLEASE written on them, and we settle down to play a card game called Arsehole¹  while trying to flag down a ride. 

Hitch-hiking in Africa.

About 10, a Toyota truck with a safari canopy on it stopped in picked us up. There were already three South African hitchers inside, and the owner, Herman, was also South African. 

The border was easy, both leaving Malawi and entering Zambia, and when we got to Chipata, the first town inside Zambia, Herman told us that he would pick us up at 7:30 in the morning and take us all the way to Lusaka. 

We trudged around for 2 hours looking for somewhere to stay and ended up in the flashest joint in town. The room rate was 1,325 Zambian kwacha for a double room which worked out at $US19/room, but Nick and I went into town and conducted a shady currency deal in a cafe to net 155 kwacha for the dollar, as opposed to the 70 kwacha officially offered by the bank, so our rooms only ended us up costing US 10 US dollars each. 

We had a slap-up meal in the hotel’s restaurant and had a good night’s sleep in really comfortable beds.

¹ Arsehole is a simple card game where the person with the worst had is proclaimed the arsehole and can be bullied, abused, insulted, and told to do menial tasks.

3/12/91-6/12/91

TUESDAY 3 DECEMBER – FRIDAY 6 DECEMBER There wasn’t much to do at Cape McLear except swim and sit round at the bar. The high point of the few days we were there was a game of touch rugby a bunch of us played one evening on the beach.¹ 

We left on Friday morning for Lilongwe after catching a ride out from Cape McLear to Monkey Bay on Thursday morning. We teamed up with a couple of kiwi guys, Nick Sharp and Steve Hege to travel for the next few days, and spent most of Thursday drinking piss in the Monkey Bay Club and playing darts. 

The bus took 9 hours to go the 120km to Lilongwe, and when we got there Linda and I went up and camped at the golf club, while Steve and Nick stayed at the Government Rest House. 

During the night we were invaded by ants and Linda’s side of the tent was crawling with them. They were in her hair and all through her pack. 

¹ That game of touch rugby, as it turned out, would have some quite serious health consequences for me in the coming months. I was tackled by someone during the game and grazed my knee on the sand. Later on, when we were swimming in the lake a parasitic worm called bilharzia invaded the cut and lodged itself somewhere in my body. When we eventually returned New Zealand in the middle of 1992, I was diagnosed with an infection caused by the bilharzia worm, and had to undergo a course of extremely expensive medication in order to rid myself of this souvenir of Lake Malawi.

2/12/91

MONDAY 2 DECEMBER We docked at Monkey Bay at 1 p.m. and after disembarking we walked into the dusty village and caught an overpriced minibus out to Cape McLear. 

There were a lot of travellers at the “Mr.Steven’s” camp, so we set up our tent at “The Ritz”, another campsite just down the beach. There were a couple of South African blokes called Fritz and Johann there, and we shared a barbecue chicken with them in the evening.

Mr Steven’s Camp.

1/12/91

SUNDAY. Rain threatened at first light and we all moved inside the second class cabin, but by 9:30 it was fine again so we all moved back outside. 

There was an hour-long stop at the picturesque Likoma Island, where drums of fuel with thrown over the side of the ferry and towed ashore. The Mozambique Coast brooded only half a mile away as we set sail again, and we passed the day reading, talking and drinking ice cold cokes and beers.