“I can’t smell anything.”
Are you sure? It’s definitely something. Smells like burning.
Having to stop on the open road to check out a problem isn’t a joyous occasion. Finding smoke emanating from the engine bay when you do makes it considerably worse.
And there we were. Just a day after crossing the border from Tanzania, we were on our first unscheduled pit stop in Mzuzu, Malawi.
A few months ago, I could not tell a fuel tank from a radiator – but my diagnosis – a burning fan belt, proved correct. After a painful 30km crawl we made it to a local mechanic in Mzuzu.
The culprit turned out to be broken bearings in a fan belt pulley, which had stopped turning. It was causing the fan belt running over it to generate excessive friction and thus burn.
Fortunately, we found ourselves in the hands of Mwiza, owner of GM Motors Mzuzu (+265 999 373 322), who got us on our way after an unanticipated afternoon in one of Malawi’s larger northern centres on our way to Nykhata bay.
Apart from this little hiccup, and although Christine disagrees, we’re still making relatively good time in our endeavor to make it down to Cape Town for her arrival on August 29th.
Since Alph’s last post, we’ve visited the lakeside village of Matema (Tanzania) where we spent a luxurious 5 nights recovering from Kyela (Nathan – not to be taken personally), dropped in on Mushroom Farm, Livingstonia (Malawi) – where we met new friends Mick, Dawn (owners) and Toast (travel writer for Go! South Africa), Nykhata Bay and finally, Cape Maclear, on the southern point of Lake Malawi.
Interesting learnings from the past week:
- #1. With a bit of determination, anything is possible. Mick, a fellow Australian, started Mushroom Farm 12 years ago after offhandedly deciding to push his bike up a treacherous 15km hill (which we were forced to negotiate in low range 2nd) and deciding it might be a nice spot to stay for a while. He likes the bush. A local chief granted him the land, and from there, stone by stone he has built a phenomenal cliff side campsite complete with luxuriously warm water, rooms, and bar, with zero technical engineering knowledge or experience.
- #2. Elephants love citrus and can smell oranges and lemons from a very, very, long way a way. If there haven’t been any recent sightings, throw a couple into your mate’s tent (even better where he can’t find them) and watch as the elephants shake out the tent (when said mate is sleeping) for a night’s entertainment. Take up a good vantage point for the evening. Cheers to Bjorn (Safari guide, Northern Malawi) for the heads up.
- #3 Always check your tent for oranges and lemons before bed
We’ll spend the next few days in Cape Maclear, before heading south from the lake through Liwonde national park on to Zomba, and then Mozambique