Our intrepid traveller; a client’s account from Africa – Part 3

So far all the hotels and houses have had large shower heads with lots of holes which give the impression of being in a rain shower.  I really like that.  Maybe I should change mine out. 

We drove through the tea plantation which has 4 different types.  For miles it looks like a green undulating carpet.  Maybe that is the magic carpet?  The two I saw were India and Clonal.  The India was planted in 1939 and the Clonals were 1997 and 1999.   The tea pickers pick about 4 baskets a day at 10 kg per basket.  The baskets are strapped to their backs and they toss the tea leaves over their head into the basket.  When the basket is full it weighs about 12 kg (multiply by 2.2 to get pounds) and they carry it to a weigh station which is sometimes quite far from the field they are picking in.  Walk back and start again.  It is backbreaking work and they work 6 days a week but Sat. is only 1/2 day.  The best pickers can do their 40 kg in 5 hrs. and another 20 in the 8 hrs.  They pick the top 3 leaves that have sprouted above the bush since the last time the area was picked. 

 Michael taught me so phrases to talk to them.  ‘Monei’ is hello. ‘ Muli bwanje’ is how are you?  ‘Ndili bwino’ is I am fine, and ‘zicomo’ is thanks.  The pickers were extremely friendly.  When I waved and smiled they all waved and smiled.  Whenever they were beside the road waiting for their tea to be weighed, we stopped and I tried out my Chechewa.  The people loved it and laughed with me at my pronunciations, but they enjoyed that I tried. 

 We were on our way to the hydro plant which I got a tour of.  The three generators were builit in 1934, 1936, and 1948.  Then we headed to the Blue Lagoon, which was more like a Brown Lagoon.   Water was very silty and coffee colored. 

 Back to the lodge for lunch of chicken in a tomato sauce (I checked for termite flies!), rice, potatoes, baked squash.  After lunch it poured for about 25 minutes so we put off our exploration drive and walk to the Mviya Pools.  Bear in mind the soil is a large percentage of clay so it gets very slippery after a rain.  We drove to one of the tea pickers villages to meet our guide and begin our walk.  As soon as the kids and some adults saw me, they all started running toward me and I had half the village surrounding me.  They all kept saying “hello” just to hear me say it back to them.  They followed us for about 10 minutes before the guide told them to go back to the village.  We walked through tea and corn fields on narrow, slippery foot paths used by the villagers.   In the corn fields they actually had 3 crops:  the corn, beans, and cassava.  That way they have nitrogen from the beans, but I don’t think that is why; they just want to harvest the corn, and then the beans are ready to be harvested, and then the cassava.  

 It was uphill and down.  Reminded me of trekking the gorillas a little.  I slipped and fell once on the way and on the way back.  Second time we were crossing a stream on rocks and the guide was holding my hand and was pulling me a little too fast.   My foot hit the wet rock and slipped and over the big rock I went.  The guide had one arm and Michael came and grabbed the other to yank me back up.  Got a couple of superficial skinned knees.  There are 7  pools which cascade down the hillside.  One is supposedly 14 meters deep.  At the bottom the swifts were flying over the lagoon area.  When we got back to the village the kids swarmed again.  Took their photos and showed them.  Some were such hams, and all were delighted to see themselves. 

 Tea on the terrace again before dinner.  Dinner was steak, roasted half potatoes, stir fry vegs.  And it rained all night. 

During the day saw an orange headed lizard, Southern Rock Agama, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Red-billed Firefinch, Silvery Cheeked Hornbill, Western Banded Snake Eagle, “a” bulbul but not identified.

Respond to this post