A hitch-hike for money

He was going so fast down the hill I had to close my eyes and lean closer to him not to feel dizzy. “It’s Malawi!” he said. I opened my eyes, “what?” He pointed to the lush green hills in front of us, “it’s Malawi.”

I was awestruck. Somehow I had imagined Malawi as a brown country, not a country of green hills and forests but savannah and sparse vegetation. I was sitting behind him on his bike, my backpack on and my one hand holding the other small bag. He dropped me by the border post and it was the smoothest border crossing this far on my trip. After getting my exit stamp in Tanzania I walked across the bridge over the big brown river, and ten minutes later I had a 20 days visa for Malawi.

As I got my entry stamp a young man approached me. “You need taxi madame? I have shared taxi to Karonga, 500.” I was skeptical. “Where is your car?” He pointed towards the road. Another tourist asked the same question, and a white car came from Tanzania. The guy said “wait, wait” and ran up to the car. A moment later he came back, “that’s my car.” I stared at him, “is That your car?” “Yes madame, yes. Karonga? 500 kwacha.”

As I sat in the car I asked the driver, “are you his taxi? His driver?” The man turned around and looked at me, “No, I am my own.” he answered. “So I guess he lied to me then,” I turned towards the taxi-guy. “Yes he did.” the driver said while the guy frenetically talked to him in another language.
After picking up some more passengers we all headed off to Karonga. The driver worked for the UN in Rwanda, DR Congo, Sudan and next he is going to the Ivory Coast.
It was awesome, I payed three euros for hitch-hiking, but at least I got a ride all the way to the hostel I was staying at.

On the way be passed one military checkpoint though. They did not want to see our passports or ID-cards, and our driver discretely payed one bribe to let us drive pass the other vehicles that were waiting.


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