So, our time here in Malawi is almost up. It’s only now that it feels like we’ve been on the road a while as Morocco now seems an aeon ago. As we meet more and more like minded travellers it seems we have the same questions. Strangely, and inevitably, the answer always seems to arrive back at the same place. “That’s Africa!”. Some see it as an unacceptable excuse where as others see it as resignation to the inevitable. The latter leaves more room to roll with situations and generally makes life a bit easier.

Here are some of the questions:

  • How is it that such beautiful, intricate and detailed wood carvings can be made here but yet to see a square doorway or window would be something of a sensation?
  • Why do the minibus drivers rev and rev their engines prior to departure but yet turn the engine off going down hill?
  • How is it that some of the poorest countries we have visited, and in the world, are the most expensive places we have been?
  • Why is it that the duty free in Addis Ababa does not take the local currency (Birr)?
  • Why is it that some currency denominations don’t go over that value of a few Euros. Malawi for example. One 500 Euro note would cover the equivalent two hundred 500 Kwacha (largest denomination) notes?

We have mused for a long time how things here are made to work in such a way that they were never supposed to. Some may call it ingenuity, the designers may call it something very different. A prime example is a car I saw with 4 different size wheels with some of the air let out of the tyres to level the car. Did it work? Yes. In the way it was designed…NO! Is it safe. Certainly not. I suppose it’s just Africa’s way of recycling and reusing. But …“That’s Africa!”.

Another example is when Molly and I booked a car for drop off to a ferry port. The car was very late and I barked at the manager. His reply was that the ferry did not leave for an hour and that we would be dropped off when he was ready. I barked some more. “I am black and this is Africa!” he exclaimed. Both of us well knowing that the ferry company was run by Germans meaning that it would actually go on time. But …“That’s Africa!”.

Another example are the pictures below. This bar has been like this for years and getting worse on a daily basis. But after all …“That’s Africa!”.

1 The Wheelhouse2 The Wheelhouse

And just where would Africa be without bendy plumbing pipes, flip flops and plastic? I dread to think…!