6 MONTH ON THE ROAD
By PHILIP | 16 July 2018
It is Malawi, the so called warm heart of Africa, that transformed our perception of the African continent and helped us to gain a different perspective as to how things actually matter in our lives that we were living back home.
After spending several weeks in Zimbabwe (see our last blog entry) we embarked further north east through the TETE corridor in Mozambique into Malawi – Chembe village , Cape McClear, on the southern tip of the so called lake of stars. David Livingstone, the big explorer, who’s heritage lives on in many entities in this part of the world has called it the lake of stars referring to the many fisher boats that light their lanterns at night while out on the lake fishing.
It has been almost 3 month since we left St. Lucia on the Kwa Zulu Natal coastline to drive inland and this closeness to water and therefore different light, village life atmosphere and structure, food and general setting contributed substantially to our experience of joy within.
From Chembe we explored more southern parts of Malawi, namely the Zomba Plateau and the Majete National Park. It was freezing cold up in the mountains and the campsite on a non-working old Trout farm on the plateau provided for nothing but huge and beautiful trees and some beautiful scenery.
It felt like a treat from distant times to indulge in fresh strawberries, gooseberries and granadilla passion fruits sold alongside the road picked from the forest, after a rather food depressing couple of month spend in Zimbabwe and Northern Mozambique.
Like all the vegetables that you buy on the side of the street they are totally organic and homegrown and we cannot remember when last we had this sensational strawberry taste that immediately put my memories back into my youth when picking those fresh berries from a field with my mother.
It hit us unexpected when we day hiked over this stunning plateau how enormous the deforestation progresses, driven by the poverty and need for fire wood of the local population and when we finally see a little patch of indigenous African rain forest it felt like a breath of fresh air. Young women – girls actually – carry their body weight in piles of wood on their heads, almost dancing in their worn out Flip Flops, always keeping the balance, and making us realize how different, hard, intense but authentic African village life really is.
We were also watching 3 young strong men, each rolling a 3 m wide trunk of a massive tree uphill for almost 3 km, a weight almost impossible for myself to manage for even 3 m, still smiling at us with this most generous smile you can imagine. It felt like a chapter of the “Sisyphus” saga, considering that those trunk’s roll down at the other side of the mountain in their village where they are made up to either timber or coal and leaving those brave men with less then 10.000 Kwacha (about 10 US$).
However, the most southern National Park in Malawi, Majete, proved to be a spectacular beautiful wild park, bordering the Shire River providing a great scenery similar to the more famous parks in the Zambezi escarpment in Zambia or Zimbabwe. We again had elephants in our open campsite but this time it was a pure, peaceful and genuine joyful experience overall.
We continues our journey further north on the lake shore, camping in Salima – Senga Bay and Chinteche, Makuzi Camp this was our new 5 star rating campsite as it was located and managed as it would be in paradise for real. It felt like a real holiday to the kids and us and we spend most days swimming and playing and having some real deserved quality family time. Wherever we camp the surrounding village kids seem to appear from almost nowhere and it is not always easy for Rudy and Una to adapt to constantly changing environments.
They are managing well though and always integrate quite quickly, it seems that after all there is a global language that all children share. And after initial hesitation and distance this heart warming authentic smile offers the bridge to trust, so we never felt unsafe and very well looked after in some really different situations that we found ourselves in along the way. This feels very different to our experiences from traveling in South Africa which is another aspect of our newly perceived and changed perspective.
LIFE WITH KIDS ON THE ROAD
As we are changing location frequently (currently we set camp the 54th time on our journey) it is relatively hard to maintain a certain routine, so we divide the schooling activities scattered over the entire day, be it in the car, on the fuel station, waiting on a border post or wherever else.
Regina is great in being Rudy’s teacher throughout and we have witnessed a big transformation in him, suddenly many things fall into place which we would have never expected to happen. He is a very helpful part of our team by now, helping to set up our tents, skillful and passionate, looking after his sister, proud and committed and helping us through constant interrogation like questioning to consciously experience our path not missing out on anything that we encounter along the way. we cannot to the slightest express our gratitude for the given opportunity to witness this unfolding of certain “personality blocks” along the way, that constitute our children and everyday literally there are new things to discover, both for them and of course for us.
I focus more on the physical and life skill teachings and it amazes me how often I see myself as a 7 year old, learning how to throw a ball, catch a Frisbee one handed, do a handstand or back flip and I am Uber proud to see Rudy develop even further in his motoric skill set in a natural setting. There are trees to climb, branches to cut, fruits to juggle, tomatoes to cut, fire to lit everywhere and the learning seems to never stop.
It must for a father be a similar feeling like for a mother directly after birth, when you become more than there was before through shared time, activity and especially lots of laughter over failure.
Overall we are managing well, very well.
We have reached halftime – Bergfest – and had a great match so far (pretty well fit this picture as there’s world cup at the moment – not for Germany though :).
We had to realize several times that 24 hours permanent togetherness has its limits with regards to self reflection and fulfillment, but as we both have pointed out several times before our trip, this journey was about all of as as a unit, togetherness – WILDSTYLE.
Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama in their Book “Joy” have recognized 8 so called pillars of Joy of which 4 are Qualities of the mind: PERSPECTIVE + HUMILITY + HUMOR + ACCEPTANCE, and 4 are Qualities of the heart: FORGIVENESS + GRATITUDE + COMPASSION + GENEROSITY.
It is our ability to “re frame our situation more positively” – perspective on life, that has a great influence on our perceived happiness.
“Our capacity to experience gratitude and our choice to be kind and generous to others” are the other two factors that lead us to the path of truthful appreciation of life.
We have reached TANZANIA with a broken leg, our loved home Caravan FORTY is limping since Malawi, due to the at times horrific roads that we need to travel on. The suspension shocks are leaking and they needed some creative African bush mechanic work to take us over the border. Obviously another great experience in how things are done in Africa. We seem to have managed through the instant help of the greatest mechanic in Africa, Alister from Canterbury car workshop in Cape Town (whom we trusted since arriving in Cape Town 10 years ago) who managed to get us some spare parts in Cape Town and the instant reply of my college Kylee to send it via DHL to Arusha in Tanzania. Hopefully this sets us up for another joyful and life experience rich journey back to our deeply missed home in Cape Town over the next couple of month on the rather bad roads of Zambia and Namibia.
We can say that we are much closer to life than we have ever been before owed to the circumstance of constant change and adaption in a foreign environment.
Our immense gratitude towards life for the enabling of this journey and our choice to be kind to ourselves and especially others along the way makes us understand the importance of happiness and joy in all our lives.
So please take these words and move them in your hearts, go take your children and travel more, feel uncomfortable in various life situations, meet your demons and greet them wholeheartedly… dance… release.
Go well, all of you,
Philip and Regina