8:47am, Saturday February 9, 2008 Mzuzu Hotel, Mzuzu, Malawi
Sitting down for breakfast here at the Sunbird Mzuzu I pulled out my MoneyClamp and surveyed my cash situation. Wow. I’ve got 370 Kwacha. Feeling pretty good until I realized that it amounted to about $2.66. This certainly wouldn’t take me to the Tanzania border. Even worse, I was delivered another blow yesterday when Peter called and informed me that my tire didn’t make it on to the truck yesterday.
Currency Conversion: $1.00 = 140 Malawian Kwacha as of February 9, 2008
We had to execute the contingency plan. One of his workers employed at the Mzuzu store who is in Lilongwe will leave tomorrow sometime and bring my tire. This means another night at Mzuzu Hotel. And possibly one more because the ride to Karonga and on to the Tanzania border will likely take two to three hours. If the tire isn’t here by 2 or 3pm we’d risk riding in darkness if we set out much later.
I’m running out of things to do here in Mzuzu and the internet connection is so damn slow I can’t upload any blog posts, access online banking nor make a Skype call or initiate an AIM chat.
10:11am, Saturday February 9, 2008 Mzuzu Hotel, Mzuzu Malawi
Biding time in the Hotel Mzuzu Ronnie updates his journal.
The Mzuzu DHL office is headquartered here in the hotel. The two DHL employees are interested in our motorcycles. I offer to trade mine for their DHL delivery bike. When that didn’t work, I tried the back up strategy. Since I’m hanging out so long in Mzuzu, perhaps they could offer me a job. After all, I’ve got more than 47,000 miles riding experience and have braved the traffic of Lima, Bogota, La Paz, Quito, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and more. I’ve also had at least three DHL packages shipped to me while on this journey. Certainly I have the qualifications.
I passed the driving test but perhaps failed the protective gear requirement?
The things we do to take up time. I’d suggested riding back to Lake Malawi south of Nkhata Bay. Ronnie wanted none of this. “I don’t go backwards,” was his response. And while I understand the concept of such thinking, we were just biding time and a nice ride along the lake certainly would be better than sitting in this hotel. Then the rain came. Maybe sitting here wasn’t so bad after all.
2:34pm, Saturday February 9, 2008 Mzuzu Hotel, Mzuzu, Malawi
Another blow. Just received an SMS message from Peter. Seems that the tire is still in Zambia at the border town of Chipata. And no courier services operate on Sunday so that means the tire would get on a truck Monday and not be here until Tuesday. An impossible situation. I can’t afford three more nights in this hotel. But what are my options? Few, if any. I think I’m going to have to send it via express courier to Dar es Salaam. DHL? Damn. That’ll probably cost me $200 or more which means the price of this tire is inching toward $500. I’m screwed. And my budget slammed. No matter what I do I’m sinking in time and money. But I can’t sit in Mzuzu any longer. It’s too painful.
5:15pm, Saturday February 9, 2008 Mzuzu Hotel, Mzuzu Malawi
The internet is so slow that I’m wasting more than time here. Paying by the hour for the connection requires buying vouchers. I can finish a beer, take a piss and cajole the staff in the time it takes to send one email, sans attachments. We decide to go with the contingency plan. When Peter receives the tire on Monday he will send it via DHL to Dar es Salaam and hold for pick up.
7:55pm, Saturday February 9, 2008 The Last Supper, Mzuzu Hotel, Mzuzu Malawi
The manager of the hotel tries to get us into the “disco” club after we finish. That will impede on our early departure plans. No. I don’t want to. Promises of cold beer, camaraderie and good looking women don’t convince me. Ronnie second guesses but follows suit. It’s an early night. We gotta make time tomorrow. Iringa in Tanzania is our goal. It’s more than 700km (400 miles) and we’ve got a border stop.