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Travel Pictures - MALAWI - 1999

All images Ron Miller

       Malawi is one of the ten poorest countries in the world and the poorest country I have visited during my travels. While many of the poor in neighboring Zimbabwe had tattered clothes and worn shoes, the poor in Malawi didn't even have shoes. Blantyre is the country's commercial capital and, almost unbelievably, the main bus station was a dirt lot. I entered Malawi from the south and trekked into the Mulanje Mountains before visiting Blantyre and the capital city of Lilongwe. Traveling to the north, I visited two relaxing villages on the shores of the clear, cool waters of Lake Malawi - a tropical paradise.

Joseph and Neil along with our guide Patrick at the foot of the Mulanje Escarpment. A few travelers ventured to this remote location
in southern Malawi to trek into the Mulanje Massif - a plateau that averages more than 6,000 feet in elevation with granite peaks that
soar to nearly 10,000 feet. Joseph (American) and Neil (Dane) are both completely deaf and mute. They communicated with each
other using sign language but, with all others, they communicated using hand gestures or by writing
on small pads of paper that they carried with them at all times.-
Mulanje, Malawi
A picture of travel in the "real" Africa. My guide suggested that we let this "opportunity" pass as he seemed to know that a better mode of
transport would arrive later in the day. We sought to travel from the village of Mulanje to Likabula where we would begin our trek -
Mulanje, Malawi
Our guide was correct as this sturdy truck came along within an hour. However, the spacious area in the back
of the truck was short lived as we met the "little truck that couldn't" a little farther down the road
and all of those passengers (previous photo) jumped into our truck - Africa! -
  Mulanje, Malawi
Here is a snapshot of travel in the "real" Africa. This dirt road must be traversed to travel from the village
of Mulanje to Likabula - the common starting point to trek into the Mulanje Mountains -
near Likabula, Malawi
These two youthful Malawians are selling hiking sticks to those trekkers entering the Mulanje Mountains -
Likabula, Malawi
Me posing with my guide and porter. Although I didn't really need a guide or porter, I welcomed the opportunity to spend time with
the locals as well as help the local economy. The going rate for a porter or guide in this region was less than three dollars per day.
Although that may seem like a pitiful wage, that was three times the average salary in Malawi - less than 300 dollars per year -
Mulanje Plateau, Malawi
Stunning vista from the top of the escarpment -
Mulanje Plateau, Malawi
Morning mist atop the Mulanje Plateau where plants thrive that I thought only existed as fossils. The plateau was once covered
in forest dominated by the famous Mulanje Cedar (renamed the Mulanje Cypress to reflect its botanical relationships).
However, due to unsustainable logging practices, the stately tree has now become endangered -
Mulanje Plateau, Malawi
My guide and porters are eating the staples of the Malawian diet - mealies (grits)
peppered with the sardine-like fishes from Lake Malawi -
Mulanje Plateau, Malawi
A refreshing swim after a long trek -
near Likabula, Malawi

Although the drive-through restaurant is said to have been pioneered in the United States (1948 at Baldwin, California's "In-n-Out Burger"),
I think this form of service may have been predated by desperate entrepreneurs in the Third World. Here, an eager group rushes the arriving
bus to sell food. Many of the vendors actually board the bus and, on occasion, ride to the first stop in order to serve their customers! Travel
in Malawi was about as rough and painful as it gets. Malawian long-distance transport typically includes a decrepit and overloaded bus with
dust shooting through the floorboard and a sagging ceiling that bounces like a trampoline due to the burdensome load on the roof -
southern Malawi
Travel in Africa requires patience or the ability to make frustration your friend. We waited for several hours before this pickup truck departed for the measly, ten-mile trip from Monkey Bay to Cape Maclear. By the time we departed, the truck was so crowded with passengers and cargo that I
only had enough space for one foot and I was forced to dangle one leg out of the bed while keeping balance with a firm grip on the roll bar -
near Cape Maclear, Malawi
Dugout canoes and tranquility on the shores of Lake Malawi (the catamaran in the distance belongs to a small international resort) -
Cape Maclear, Malawi
This village on the shore of Lake Malawi moves at a different pace - slowwww. These children, in spite of frequent contact
with travelers, keep their distance. When you get too close or surprise them, they usually run off giggling -
Cape Maclear, Malawi
The Baobab tree's swollen trunk stores water for the dry season. The leaves are used as a leaf vegetable and can be
eaten raw, as a powder, or in a soup. In addition, the large fruit from the tree is high in both vitamin C and calcium -
Cape Maclear, Malawi
The sardine-like fish netted from the lake (Usipa or Lake Sardine) are set out to dry in the open air-
Cape Maclear, Malawi
This fisherman is paddling his dugout canoe just offshore on the clear waters of Lake Malawi -
Cape Maclear, Malawi 
Cape Maclear's offshore islands have superb snorkeling. The lake's clear water has a visibility
of 30 feet and is home to brightly colored fish that are the envy of any tropical ocean -
Cape Maclear, Malawi 
Our boatman stopped just offshore and whistled to get the attention of fish eagles perched in the island's dense forest. With each fish
he tossed into the water, an eagle launched from its perch and swooped down beside the boat to snatch the handout. The symbiotic
relationship between the eagles' desire for fish and the boatman's desire for money provided tourists with a magnificent show -
Cape Maclear, Malawi 
Joseph and the local entrepreneurs are negotiating safely beyond the "no peddling zone." In order to prevent constant harassment
to their patrons, the travelers accommodations set up a "no peddling zone" that is essentially an invisible line that the local men
are not allowed to cross - and this clearly-defined boundary is enforced at each hotel by an African man with a billy club! -
Cape Maclear, Malawi
Me enjoying a tasty snack at the Njaya hostel restaurant lounge at the northern end of Lake Malawi. The resort developer's dream was
to create Thailand-like bungalows on the tropical shores of Lake Malawi. However, to construct the buildings, he had to make his
own boards since they weren't available in the area as the locals use only mud-bricks and thatch to construct their homes -
Nkhata Bay, Malawi
Dugout canoes on this lovely beach at Nkhata Bay. The beach and water is shared by fishermen and travelers -
Nkhata Bay, Malawi
This European traveler is lounging on the porch of her private bungalow -
Nkhata Bay, Malawi
The locals use nets from their dugout canoes as well as from the shore -
Nkhata Bay, Malawi
These local fisherman are hauling in their catch (tourist bungalows in the distance) -
Nkhata Bay, Malawi
This gentle man came up to me selling handmade spoons. However, since I didn't have any space
in my backpack for spoons, I gave him a small payment for this wonderful photo -
Nkhata Bay, Malawi

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All images Ron Miller
For authorized use of these photos, please contact Ron Miller at TheHappyCannibal@gmail.com