Tillistonsi loved his dirty pink blanket! Look at those big floppy ears! When we took him around town, Suz would sometimes carry him, as he would get frightened when the big dogs barked at him. This caused much hilarity with the locals, who would ask if he was Suz’s baby! We also had a leash for him, unheard of amongst the local people who use a bit of rope to tie up their dogs to the nearest tree. If you are an animal lover and are a bit soft, you’d really struggle in a place like Malawi, where life can be pretty harsh and the feelings of animals are not high up on peoples agenda. Luchenza is in the Thyolo District, which is just down the road from Mount Mulanje.
Taken just outside the capital, Lilongwe, this sort of scene was very common in Malawi. This guy had a job which was to protect the eggs and stop them falling over. Of course in the “developed” world he’d never get away with this, due to health and safety. Imagine how he’d go flying off the truck if they hit something! But having a job, or something to sell is important, with no welfare system to speak of. In Malawi there was always a feeling of vague anarchy, like not many rules and people making do. What rules they do have no one really enforces them anyway – especially on the roads.
Don’t be fooled by the look on this puppy’s face! Cute he may look but he was a very naughty boy! One of his favourite games was to bite your heels as you walked along. When he wasn’t doing that he’d be digging holes under the fence, chewing your clothes, barking in th middle of night and other doggy things. “Tillitonsi” was his name, and it means “we are together”, but we just called “Tilli”. He really was a character! When we got to taming him he became a wonderful dog, still cute but able to do as he was told (rather important for a companion and guard dog). Here he is again looking even cuter, but that’s only because he was doing something he shouldn’t just a moment before. He lived at our house in Luchenza, before going on to live with our friends when we had to leave.
Yes, indeed, this “beer” is truly disgusting. Chibuku is made with the normal stuff like starch, germ and yeast but these are not removed from the beer before packaging. Therefore, all this gunk settles in the carton, and this is why it says “shake shake” on the outside. That is what we did, gave it a good shake before opening up and taking a sip. It was a foul cloudy yeasty slodge, not even fit for the dog. It was so cheap though, and when in Rome and all that, it had to be done. The locals at the market thought it hilarious that we were buying the stuff, as anyone with even a little money (and as white people we obviously did have) would be buying proper beer. Suffice to say most of the Chibuku went down the drain. Yuk!
Mount Mulanje is about 3000 metres high, and you walk up about 2000 m pretty easily. We hired a local “guide” who was just some bloke who knew the way, but that saved us getting lost and it’s important to give the locals as much work as you can – Malawi is a poor country. From Luchenza, we drove along the M2 and parked at the foot of mountain near Mulanje town. There are no gates or fees to pay, even though the massif is on a forest reserve. If you are into hard-core climbing and want to summit, you’ll need to be prepared, but we stopped at a lovely waterfall and pool for a dip – warning – freezing cold!