Day 69

I’d never prayed harder than I did last night … we all did, asking God to send His angels to camp all around us and keep us safe. And of course, He did. But somewhat of a rushed packing we hadn’t completed yet on this trip … anything to ‘just get away’. We left … filthy! I said I’d rather rot of BO than try to take a shower in that place. You’d end up with some kind of disease that penicillin won’t even be able to fix! With dirty body in clean cycling gear, at least the sunscreen made us smell better … I hope.

As I said, the local cyclist from the previous evening was not at the roadblock and so we set off without him. We believe it all worked out for the best.

The traffic was heavy as we set out for the lake, piling up behind us on every rise … and there are many … only to become impatient and begin to overtake in the face of oncoming traffic, necessitating those drivers simply ‘get out of the way’ as best they can. This, combined with the Malawi version of a blue-light brigade, made driving back-up even more hair-raising than pedaling out front. But soon the traffic began to thin out and we could really get going.

The terrain is rather challenging with one hill upon the next, and I had the privilege to take us out a good, solid hour worth of climbing at various different gradients … except down, of course. Steadily cranking out hill after hill the air seemed to get fresher. We were leaving the smoky, burning rubbish, exhaust fume filled air of the city behind and entering the rural air, fresh with the smell of newly turned earth. The classic pine aroma so reminiscent of home, filled the air as we passed through the plantations on the hilltops.

With the temperature that remained in the high twenties on the plateau, we could manage to cycle well into the day. We were all feeling much better and getting to our planned destination, Dedza Pottery Lodge, by midday, made us just feel even better. We finally achieved a destination! That hadn’t truly happened since we’d left Botswana!

On a high, we ordered ourselves a simply smashing lasagna at the lodge restaurant before checking into a room. They had a campsite but there was no shade, so we decided to take a room instead. Thank goodness for that, since I got an absolutely amazing headache of migraine proportions that hit me out of the blue as we stood up to leave the restaurant. The pain was excruciating, I could hardly keep my eyes open and I had to massage my scalp with clawed fingers and breathe like a freight train to keep from passing out as I waited for Suzann and mom to check us in. When they returned to the vehicle from the office, they were struck with concern as I was apparently as white as a sheet. Quickly they loaded me in the vehicle and drove round to the rooms where I could get onto a bed before I fainted. Running wild, Suzann tried to unpack with lightning speed in order to get to the pain pills. Swallowing two, I fell back onto the bed, sweaty body aside. I had obviously over-exerted myself with all that climbing, but I soon began to feel better, especially once we got the electricity on and the fan blowing cool air across my hot body.

Waiting for the ‘donkey’ to warm the water, we all had a bit of a snooze, until Suzann went to test the temperature of the shower and found it satisfactory. What an amazing shower I had! Getting yourself cleaned up really does wonders for your state of mind as well.

After all the showers we headed up to the restaurant for coffee and cake. Suzann was after the chocolate cake she’d spied on the lunch menu but alas, there was none. The electricity had been off the morning so they had not baked. What a pity! Anyway, we decided on a mince pie for mom and apple pie and cream for Suzann and I. But what hilarity when the sweets came. Mom’s mince pie turned out to be nothing other than a single little Christmas mince pie … and not even the deep dish ones … lying lonely in the middle of the huge plate, like a five rand coin on a dinner plate, while ours were two large slices of apple pie, filling our plates. It was so funny, especially to see mom’s dismayed expression when this little ‘treat’ was placed before her. But things weren’t so funny anymore when we realized that the milk they’d brought for our coffee was ‘off’, leaving little bits floating on the surface of the now scummy looking coffee. Mom had the last laugh … she takes her coffee black. It was good coffee though …

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