Mulanje Massif II
Level 1: Journey to Luchenza!
First board the
bus, then survive the Road to Thyolo More...
Level 2: Ride the Matola!
can only move when un-safe More...
Level 3: Ascent of Mulanje!
It's getting hot,
and you're running late More...
Bonus Level: Back to Base
Now run down again
Word from sponsor
(Items most missed
by volunteers) More...
After the exertions of producing the
last newsletter - The Little Differences
- I thought I would tell you of some exertions of another
In goes the Kwacha; relax, a few deep breaths. Let's play!
(A whimsical interpretation of what is both
a physically demanding and invigorating experience: climbing
up Mulanje Massif)
Level 1: Journey to Luchenza
it's dark; the Mulanje bus is late. You must first board the bus,
and then survive the Road To Thyolo. Good luck, brave adventurer!"
It was cold, and it was
dark and yep! there was no sign of our bus. A bus going to everywhere
else, yes, but not to Mulanje. (And weren't the graphics A M
A Z I N G !)
We had no tickets either,
and the other 'passengers' looked a mean bunch - definitely an 'elbows
first, questions later' lot. What chance of a British queue? None.
Better be careful!
The bus shows - an hour
late; there's a mad dash! We're at the front; but there's a restless
stirring: "Mutter, mutter, Azungu! Mutter, mutter!". Sensing
trouble I scowled at 'Mr Meanest': "We were here first - back
That did the trick: we
were on, AND a seat for two. (Bonus points! Wonder what the
sound track's like!)
This is it - the Thyolo
road! Bumpy, narrow, and hoards of oncoming hazards - this is great!
Health levels are still high - sit back, enjoy - autopilot!
There's some really evocative
night-time village scenes (smooth and flicker-free); just
like the movies. The 'passengers' were face front; heads showing
- like a row of blackened cotton buds. They didn't muster. And the
seats we sat in - boy! were they uncomfortable. (So real!)
Ah! Luchenza. And there's
the guide, Mr. Brady: bump into him for the next level. What a place,
though! Like a Wild-West town: a single street, a bar, a general
store; and nothing much else pardner (not even tumbleweed).
Level 2: Ride the Matola
now you must rest - for tomorrow you ride the Matola. Sleep well!"
We ate, we talked, we
wondered - what dangers lay ahead? Mr. Brady knew, Of course, but
was programmed not to tell!
A quick refresh, and
morning. Egg sandwich icon collected (I bet it was tasty),
luggage icon available; and lo and behold, our first lift - this
was too easy!
We stocked up on provisions
at the food stop - no surprises here - just Little Iwes trying to
lighten the wallet. And then a wait. A wait for the Matola! (A definition
scrolled by: motorised vehicle - any kind - that can only move once
an un-safe number of passengers have boarded!) Hmm A bit dull this
- just avoid the 'decoys to hell', I guess.
Here it is, at last (over
30 'minutes' later); full - but we are only six! (Any accident now,
though, and definite End Of Game). Eee! Easy: a couple of spluttered
stops, the only distraction.
the driver barked! Squeeze out, and breathe out! (just a little
Four hundred metres to
go - before the endurance level. But first, time to fend off some
more Iwes (eeways) - littl'uns, desperate for your cash, desperate
to transmogrify into mountain porters. A real test of the humour
function, this: "I know the mountain best! I'm the strongest
of all! I don't cost much!" - their voices would protest. You've
to smile back: "I'm just as strong, but I'm much cheaper -
maybe next time!". And keep on walking...
Level 3: Ascent of Mulanje
"You have to
reach Luchenya hut by tea. Can you make it? It's getting hot, and
you're running late..."
By now, it was late.
Soon it would be just us, the overbearing mid-day heat, and the
Massif. As we climbed, the temperature was still low though, with
a high water content in the air. And misty - no splendourous high-res.
views for us this trip. Just endurance and pain.
Endurance and pain it
was; made more so by the strangely increasing weight of my pack.
That's a cruel trick to play. (Where are you little Iwes?) So, one
minute there's this steep blood-pumping incline; next, we'd be on
all fours grappling, grimacing. But mustn't stop!
I found it hard, but
the 'maximum-effort-then -rest' mode was the right choice. That
'slow and easy' mode is an unending agony (unending until your energies
are drained - then Game End). Others struggled. (Did I say game?)
Ordinarily, at this stage,
you're greeted with views of Technicolor splendour - all of southern
Malawi, visible. This game: denied - just head down, climb up!
Luchenya hut. At last.
Managed to avoid the Psychological Trauma State (just), by ignoring
false peak after false peak. (If I hadn't - bye, bye!). Shed boots,
shed ruck-sack click the Blazing Fire icon! Eat food, rest - we've
made it! Just time for a quick scan of the photographic scenes up
there -nice touch!
Bonus level: Back to base!
You made it - but can you get back to base? Have to run...!"
Another quick refresh
- morning. Energy levels restored to maximum. Now track to the local
waterfall - genuine British-style drizzle (another nice touch!)
- to collect Speed Shoes. And then back - quickly! A run down the
mountain - no calamities here please - collect Beers at the Bottle
Store (took longer than I thought) - run the Winding Road (all of
twelve kilometers, in the rain! Urgh!). But Mr. Brady is with me
- trying to get me to run too fast! My energy's low; lookin' pale,
wasted; legs are flashing 'heavy'. This games gotta stop soon...
"Bad luck - you
ran out of energy!"
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