Mbeya to Lilongwe With Fun Times Along Lake Malawi

OK, so I’m still confident that Birgit and Leah’s (or maybe just Leah’s at this point since she still sounds excited about it) guest blog about the 7 days in Tanzania will still happen… But we just haven’t connected at the right times on rest days to get the blog going together… So now, you get the blog about the last days since I last blogged in Mbeya about Zanzibar!

TANZANIA! omg, the 115km of Tanzania I got to cycle (lol) were definitely some of the prettiest! The race was the first 60k to lunch and though I’m not racing anymore, having given back my timing chip, I pushed hard for once and was rewarded getting to lunch quickly! I rode a lot of it with one of our newer riders, Michel, from Holland. Sorry Birgit and Leah! 😉

We got rained on before lunch, which actually wasn’t too bad… it was a nicer cooler day anyways and just contributed to the awesomeness of the day… At 115k we hit the border and things had started to heat up. Still had 45k more to go and it was a little bit terrible in the heat and sun and moisture that Malawi brought us. Things across the border actually changed significantly… The kids got yelly, the terrain got flat and wet, and the first town wasn’t for 45k, where camp was, in Karonga, which was on the shores of Lake Malawi. It was a pretty nice camp and a weirdish little city… 42000 people, and despite Malawi being the poorest of the countries we’ve been to, there was at least 5 western style supermarkets and 6 or 7 large banks to exchange money at. What?!

The ride the next day was pretty wet, got poured on twice, and then it just got ridiculously hot and muggy, so I waited around lunch for Leah and Birgit and eventually decided to take the lunch truck into camp, and our rest day at Chitimba Beach! VERY nice place, so fun to be on the water, and I even went in, my fears of Bilharzia being set aside by the waves at the time in the lake… Didn’t seem like the right weather for parasite carrying snails to latch on to me.. Also fun at the Chitimba beach camp was a potluck ‘dinner’ of snacky food, cuz the kitchen closed ridiculously at 7pm and didn’t serve dinner food, only lunches… Then the next day we did a big pig roast which was delicious but lacking in quantity for all us hungry cyclists, I feel. And no sides. lol.

From Chitimba beach, it was 4 riding days into Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. The first night was to Mzuzu, which was a reasonably sized town with the biggest supermarket yet. There was a large climb to start the day, 600m or so? Was pretty, and only rained lightly all day. Mzuzu was nice though, I made a couple trips to the supermarket and had some great ice cream! 😀 Mmmmm.

The next day I ran the last 13k to camp and avoided the rain, even though I’d’ve liked it, I think! It was a hot run! But feels good. My mentality about the tour is changing yet again. My ironman is in 5 months basically, so I’ve started to panic a bit and am using every day as a training day now, running, riding, or resting. Eventually hopefully combining some days of riding and running too… Swim will have to wait! We camped in a soccer field that was inundated with children all day, so loud, so many eyes watching us… Still don’t like it! Felt like Ethiopia, just without the security guards we’d usually have there!

The next day was 108 km, and I gave it a pretty solid push the whole day, finishing in just under 4 hours and skipping lunch along the way.. Which I guess I did kind of regret around 80km.. haha. It was nice to push it though and be passing people! I like the training feeling and feeling strong… Still want to enjoy Africa, but I think I’m over a lot of it now, I dunno. I’ll stop when there’s something to stop at. 🙂 I think the last rider got into camp at about 12:30pm, so it was just a ridiculous day where everyone felt like they were on a rest day. Everyone’s getting so strong now, they can push well when they want to!

Next day was 130k into Lilongwe. Which is where I am now! Interesting place for sure, lots of political stuff going on right now, I think there’s elections soon, and each party has their colours.. Sadly our flagging tape is the colour of The People’s Party… And got removed fairly quickly (with some warning from locals: “THIS IS MALAWI!” lol… people here seem friendly enough though, and the city was full of supermarkets again… Sadly still no sour enerjelly babies though, which I’ve been hunting for since Addis! UGH, I want some sour candy!

Last night we had a going away dinner at a place called Don Brioni’s Bistro… Mateo is sadly leaving us, after being there with us all the way from the start… Was a nice night and meal though! And we have 3 new riders joining here! Young David’s mom, Jennilea’s boyfriend, and Claudia’s boyfriend! Exciting dynamic shift!

Didn’t do a whole lot here.. Ate, shopped (new sandals, yay!), and relaxed. Ran today with Leah too, much fun! Two more phone calls really raised my spirits as well! 😀 Getting excited about home activities for sure!!!

Tomorrow we enter Zambia. Malawi is over just like that! 5 riding days takes us to Lusaka, and then 3 more to Victoria Falls where we have 3 whole rest days to do exciting things like bungy jumping and white water rafting! Our biggest day yet is on day 2, 176km. I plan to cycle it hardish as a training ride! Tomorrow I’m going to run again. 😉

I’m sure there’s lots I’m missing about these days, I gotta start taking notes along the way again!

Miss you all! Here’s pictures, everyone’s favourite part! 😀 See you from Lusaka!

Welcome to Mbeya! I actually took this the morning after I arrived... I was off for a run and this road was way too muddy, so I turned around and came back to pavement. Turned out this muddy road was the way in for riders later! Eep.
Welcome to Mbeya! I actually took this the morning after I arrived… I was off for a run and this road was way too muddy, so I turned around and came back to pavement. Turned out this muddy road was the way in for riders later! Eep.
Phew, at least Mbeya has the important things... Taken at the Elegante Supermarket behind the Oilcom gas station... not a bad little market.
Phew, at least Mbeya has the important things… Taken at the Elegante Supermarket behind the Oilcom gas station… not a bad little market.
I even found (and bought, but haven't played yet) Scrabble!
I even found (and bought, but haven’t played yet) Scrabble!
"Kessy Casim" shop.
“Kessy Casim” shop.
Sandro arrives very mucky!
Sandro arrives very mucky!
Leah and Birgit stretch it out. Something new on their 7 day stretch without me... Roadside yoga. Maybe by the time I post this, they'll have written their guest blog entry! ;)
Leah and Birgit stretch it out. Something new on their 7 day stretch without me… Roadside yoga. Maybe by the time I post this, they’ll have written their guest blog entry! 😉
We do this at every hotel we camp at.. I'm surprised they're ok with it! Clothes everywhere! Classin' up the joint.
We do this at every hotel we camp at.. I’m surprised they’re ok with it! Clothes everywhere! Classin’ up the joint.
Leah wonders how safe the meat this guy is selling from a box on his bike is... (not that she'd eat it, she's veggie, but it's still weird!)
Leah wonders how safe the meat this guy is selling from a box on his bike is… (not that she’d eat it, she’s veggie, but it’s still weird!)
Leah questions this guy on why he sells so many toques in Africa where it's never really cold!
Leah questions this guy on why he sells so many toques in Africa where it’s never really cold!
In one of the boringest pictures ever, this is actually two socks that I've been missing one or the other of since Sudan. Finally reunited, they now add a full pair to my quiver of socks. lol.
In one of the boringest pictures ever, this is actually two socks that I’ve been missing one or the other of since Sudan. Finally reunited, they now add a full pair to my quiver of socks. lol.
Is this the end of Dangerous Africa or just a rock fall section? We'll never know... Last miles of Tanzania!
Is this the end of Dangerous Africa or just a rock fall section? We’ll never know… Last miles of Tanzania!
Turns out Tanzania is pretty beautiful!
Turns out Tanzania is pretty beautiful!
A riverbed with water in it?! Where am I?!
A riverbed with water in it?! Where am I?!
Into Malawi now, instantly more humid... I hope this is rice patties?
Into Malawi now, instantly more humid… I hope this is rice patties?
More Malawi road side water...
More Malawi road side water…
Helen handles a beatle. Something I've definitely noticed about Malawi, lots of insane insects. Ugh.
Helen handles a beatle. Something I’ve definitely noticed about Malawi, lots of insane insects. Ugh.
Oh hi campsite lizard.. How do you like my tent?
Oh hi campsite lizard.. How do you like my tent?
Oh hi campsite shower frog.. How do you like the pressure?
Oh hi campsite shower frog.. How do you like the pressure?
One of our earlier views of Lake Malawi! Can't complain, wow!
One of our earlier views of Lake Malawi! Can’t complain, wow!
And a view from our campsite / rest day at Chitimba Beach.
And a view from our campsite / rest day at Chitimba Beach.
A frog in Chitimba... Lots of frogs here.
A frog in Chitimba… Lots of frogs here.
We found a Malawian Millipede along the beach... Chris was brave enough to pick it up.
We found a Malawian Millipede along the beach… Chris was brave enough to pick it up.
And then put it on Brad's shoulder, where it then migrated to his head... Poor Brad.
And then put it on Brad’s shoulder, where it then migrated to his head… Poor Brad.
We had a big pig roast the second day, but it still probably wasn't enough food for everyone...
We had a big pig roast the second day, but it still probably wasn’t enough food for everyone…
Checking out 'town'... Really nothing here.
Checking out ‘town’… Really nothing here.
Oh wait! There's rum! In plastic baggies! 100mL for 25c! I still haven't drank this.
Oh wait! There’s rum! In plastic baggies! 100mL for 25c! I still haven’t drank this.
Some of the TDA'rs play some volleyball!
Some of the TDA’rs play some volleyball!
More random animals! I think this was a small chameleon, hiding up by the light... Silly place to hide.
More random animals! I think this was a small chameleon, hiding up by the light… Silly place to hide.
1/3 up the biggest climb of the day, had to take a stop and get a picture here. So pretty!
1/3 up the biggest climb of the day, had to take a stop and get a picture here. So pretty!
Lunch was a different story... just far too many people! Ugh! We had to get out of dodge ASAP, the crowd was getting unruly with begging.
Lunch was a different story… just far too many people! Ugh! We had to get out of dodge ASAP, the crowd was getting unruly with begging.
Mzuzu was a nice place... Despite being the poorest country we visit, Malawi definitely has the most and best supermarkets of the whole trip.
Mzuzu was a nice place… Despite being the poorest country we visit, Malawi definitely has the most and best supermarkets of the whole trip.
A view from one of my runs this week... Lovely! Wish it had rained on me a little bit though...
A view from one of my runs this week… Lovely! Wish it had rained on me a little bit though…
The first outhouse I entered, I was greeted by this site... Thousands and thousands of mosquitoes! Ugh! :(
The first outhouse I entered, I was greeted by this site… Thousands and thousands of mosquitoes! Ugh! 🙁
The kids at soccer camp were a bit nuts, but a few of us took some time to go sing to them... Did it make anything better? I don't know.
The kids at soccer camp were a bit nuts, but a few of us took some time to go sing to them… Did it make anything better? I don’t know.
These rocky outcrops on the ride were quite pretty!
These rocky outcrops on the ride were quite pretty!
Like this one!! Super pretty.
Like this one!! Super pretty.
Kind of tired after giving today's 107km more of a push than normal and skipping lunch... Also looking kind of shaggy!
Kind of tired after giving today’s 107km more of a push than normal and skipping lunch… Also looking kind of shaggy!
Mateo is leaving us in Lilongwe, and him and Jennilea have been good friends for months... They tied them together and said he couldn't leave til he got out of it.
Mateo is leaving us in Lilongwe, and him and Jennilea have been good friends for months… They tied them together and said he couldn’t leave til he got out of it.
Tobacco plants!
Tobacco plants!
This was a sign from the day before's lunch that I skipped... I wonder if this stuff was on the menu.
This was a sign from the day before’s lunch that I skipped… I wonder if this stuff was on the menu.
Tobacco plants and me.. Just cuz.
Tobacco plants and me.. Just cuz.
Another "7 Eleven"
Another “7 Eleven”
Love campsites that "get it"...
Love campsites that “get it”…
This place had a cook-your-own-food place! Delicious! I made an old favourite from my childhood that I hadn't had since December!
This place had a cook-your-own-food place! Delicious! I made an old favourite from my childhood that I hadn’t had since December!
Breakfast this morning, Dave G sets a new record at the hotel, 9 eggs!
Breakfast this morning, Dave G sets a new record at the hotel, 9 eggs!
He did it! I think he went for pizza after this.
He did it! I think he went for pizza after this.
Leah finishes the run we went on together... Nice to have someone out there with me!
Leah finishes the run we went on together… Nice to have someone out there with me!

I Put a Vacation in my Vacation – Zanzibar Week

Zanzibar. We’ve been hearing about places so much on this trip, I now no longer know if I knew about this place before I came or not… But I definitely did not know it was off the coast of Tanzania, and an island paradise akin to Hawaii or the Cairns area of Australia, but that’s pretty much what it is. Also, expensive… At least by African standards!

I was looking for a way to avoid the 7 day section of dirt from Arusha to Mbeya, mostly because I’m sick of almost dying on the dirt downhills with my roadie brakes, and Zanzibar seemed like a neat place to try out. Once I found out Sigrid was going, it was an easy decision since I wouldn’t be all alone!

I flew direct from Arusha Airport (not Kilimanjaro’s airport) and straight to Zanzibar on one of the smallest planes I’ve been on.

The motorbike guy was there at the airport and I easily got hold of my 250cc honda dirt bike. After a quick stop at the bank to get money to pay him, he walked off and I motorbiked for the first time since 2005, all the way across the island to my hotel in Paje, where Sigrid and friends were staying. They’d spent a whole day relaxing already and were waiting to party that night, but after some food I kind of passed out for a couple hours, missing the party, but waking up in time to have my very first trans-continental phone call of the whole trip! Actually, the second… the first was boring and to my bank, but it was awesome to chat with Danielle back home and plan out a few months of adventures once I return to Canada! I also decided to cut my trip just a tad short since I was spending so much money doing these side trips and come home in time to do the Golden Triangle, a 3 day bike trip through BC on May Long weekend. I’m so stupid, right? I have two days off when I get home, then back to cycle touring! haha. I did it last year, my first and only trip on a bike until this one! 320 km over 3 days sounds so wimpy now, hehe… But it’ll be amazing, fun, and friend-filled! UCTCers, you guys out there? Sign up! It was fun last year! 😀

Day 2 I headed back to Zanzibar Town, to the old section called Stone Town, which is now a world heritage site… Was very pretty and fun, had some great food, ran into Sigrid and friends, and left the city motoring through the alleys of Stone Town, feeling like I was in a James Bond movie as the alleys and turns were very tight and people had to move out of my way to make it through… One of the funnest things I’ve done! Getting back was a bit harrowing though, as sun set while I was out without any glasses but my sunnies. Without them, bugs filled my eyes at high speed and with them, I couldn’t see much past the outline of the road. GAH. Made it though, no incidents.

Day 3 – 5 kind of blends together in a great time of relaxing, reading (started and finished Amanda Lindhout’s House in the Sky book about her kidnapping and torture in Somalia (along with a memoir of her life before that time – helps me respect her a bit more than before for the crazy decision to goto Somalia in the first place) – great book by the way), meeting new friends (a brief interlude on that in a second), snorkeling with dolphins, and visiting a forest reserve where endemic monkeys lived! I did not go Scuba Diving, but that’s ok… it was a great week of relaxing!

After a few days of me being 2 km down the beach from Sigrid and friends, Nadia departed and Sigrid and Solveig moved down beach near me, who was at Arabian Nights, to Paje by Night. This place was awesome, and I spent most of my week there after the move. Sweet pool, sweet hammock to read in, and some new friends, specifically Francois-Louis from France who was vacationing in Zanzibar for a week to take a break from his busy life as a doctor and decide what to do moving forward… He found Sigrid and I spewing stories of TDA greatness and I really think he might sign up, I’m pretty sure he spent the next few days reading all our blogs about the trip!

More importantly, Francois-Louis provided me an opportunity to bribe a police officer! lol. We were heading for the monkey reserve together on my motorbike, but FL didn’t have a helmet… Something practically no Africans we’ve seen on this trip (and in Zanzibar) wear. He said we had to go to court the next day and pay $25 USD, which was total bullshit I’m sure, but whatever, I knew what was going on and played along for the experience. We went inside the police station and into a small room where he again explained how we needed to go to court… I asked if we could pay something there instead, and he said they didn’t do receipts at the station. No problem, I said, and his eyes lit up. It was just a couple bucks, and super ridiculous… But whatever, that’s Africa for you… I’m surprised it took until now to happen, but mostly the Tour is well planned and they know the staff is well educated on scams, so they leave us alone.

Anyways, it was a pretty great 5 days of rest. I had a couple runs in there, both good and amazing (though always hot), and then Sigrid and I made our way back to the tour here in Mbeya (an aside: one of the two types of sour candies I’ve been hunting since I had them in Addis was actually found in the Zanzibar airport at a little shop… how ridiculous? and where did he source them from?!), where we met up with everyone again. I hope Birgit and Leah get their blog together soon, they did take pictures for it! 🙂 You’ll have to wait and see. 2 more days to the next rest day, this time in Malawi. I missed a lot of on road Tanzania, but I’ll be back again for sure. The people, animals, sights have all been amazing!

For now, pictures! Always the best part! Hope you like monkeys.

The pretty small Cessna that would take me from Arusha to Zanzibar, direct, in about 2 hours.
The pretty small Cessna that would take me from Arusha to Zanzibar, direct, in about 2 hours.
Views of the coast! The weather has cleared up significantly. This view and arm of the wing remind me of the first time I solo skydove in 2000.
Views of the coast! The weather has cleared up significantly. This view and arm of the wing remind me of the first time I solo skydove in 2000.
Zanzibar's port!
Zanzibar’s port!
I rented a motorbike!
I rented a motorbike!
First views of the beach in Paje. Lots of seaweed, but otherwise very white and soft sand!
First views of the beach in Paje. Lots of seaweed, but otherwise very white and soft sand!
Found this little guy building himself a hole in the sand!
Found this little guy building himself a hole in the sand!
I had food in this old fort (at the Old Fort Restaurant, as the sign says, haha)
I had food in this old fort (at the Old Fort Restaurant, as the sign says, haha)
A view of the sea from Zanzibar Town...
A view of the sea from Zanzibar Town…
Some locals pull up a very heavy looking boat onto shore...
Some locals pull up a very heavy looking boat onto shore…
Back to Old Fort for some souvenir shopping!
Back to Old Fort for some souvenir shopping!
Selfie on top of the fort!
Selfie on top of the fort!
The Old Dispensary... Now a bit of a hostel and food place.
The Old Dispensary… Now a bit of a hostel and food place.
Heading out to swim with some dolphins.. a few photos here were Sigrid's! Like this one. Local fishermen, I think.
Heading out to swim with some dolphins.. a few photos here were Sigrid’s! Like this one. Local fishermen, I think.
Some really small sailboats..
Some really small sailboats..
So peaceful out on the sea here.
So peaceful out on the sea here.
Then suddenly, DOLPHINS!
Then suddenly, DOLPHINS!
Thank god for underwater cameras!
Thank god for underwater cameras!
I swear that one is smiling...
I swear that one is smiling…
Dolphins with me!
Dolphins with me!
Sigrid's friends, Solveig  and Nadia, and myself. Solveig had gotten hardcore sunburnt the previous day, thus the crazy outfit. ;) Ready to dive back in after dolphins!
Sigrid’s friends, Solveig and Nadia, and myself. Solveig had gotten hardcore sunburnt the previous day, thus the crazy outfit. 😉 Ready to dive back in after dolphins!
More dolphins!
More dolphins!
Relaxing at the Paje by Night pool.
Relaxing at the Paje by Night pool.
Off to see some monkeys hopefully?
Off to see some monkeys hopefully?
Following the guide, hoping he knows how to find them!
Following the guide, hoping he knows how to find them!
OMG MONKEYS! Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkeys, endemic to here.
OMG MONKEYS! Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkeys, endemic to here.
Cute little baby guy!
Cute little baby guy!
They're so picturesque!
They’re so picturesque!
A lion! ... No, still monkeys.
A lion! … No, still monkeys.
Dude's got a long tail.
Dude’s got a long tail.
A crazy monkey and some sort of primitive primate.
A crazy monkey and some sort of primitive primate.
Toats not a monkey. Oh, wait.
Toats not a monkey. Oh, wait.
Is this the lion?
Is this the lion?
Ok, this is legit crazy. He wasn't growling or anything, he just made this face when he squeaked, lol.
Ok, this is legit crazy. He wasn’t growling or anything, he just made this face when he squeaked, lol.
A new one for the wall at home?
A new one for the wall at home?
Another youngin'.
Another youngin’.
A different species of monkey! The blue monkey.
A different species of monkey! The blue monkey.
One more blue monkey. Sorry, I hope you all love monkeys.
One more blue monkey. Sorry, I hope you all love monkeys.
Kids playing soccer/futbol near our hotel area.
Kids playing soccer/futbol near our hotel area.
The motorcycle I rented all week! Somehow I managed to fail to get a picture of me on it!
The motorcycle I rented all week! Somehow I managed to fail to get a picture of me on it!
On the flight back to the mainland, this was in the Fastjet in-flight magazine! How fitting!
On the flight back to the mainland, this was in the Fastjet in-flight magazine! How fitting!

run, bike, ski, snowboard, whatever!