Back from Blantyre

I spent a couple of sunny, winter days in Malawi’s biggest city, visiting family and meeting friends.

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I’ve started uploading some of my snapshots to Flickr. More to come as I sift thru the GBs of data.

Travel was uneventful, except for the fact that my luggage took 6 days to arrive in Blantyre. It started out with a harmless announcement by the SAA pilot that he would need to unload some cargo due to overloading. Overloading a plane is a safety issue, and I’d rather wait for my bags than crash into some mountain. Later during the flight, the pilot announced that 23 bags had been left behind. But no worries, the bags would be brought to Chileka on a later flight on the same day. This was the start of various misinformed messages.

The flights between Jo’burg and Blantyre are always fully booked and a lot of cargo is shipped by air.

Anyway, my bags finally arrived in good condition. The SAA staff at the Blantyre office were very polite and helpful. And I learnt that I’ll put my camera charger into my camera bag. Instead of my checked luggage.

Flying back was uneventful as well. Except for a small scare. During the security scan check at Chileka, my camera bag fell right through a defect rung in the conveyor belt onto the floor. Luckily the bag is well-padded and nothing happened to my cam.

Cam bag = already amortized.

Another Chileka detail, I’ll not forget so fast: several Blantyre kindergarden and school classes came out to the airport to watch the aeroplane land and take off. Just for fun. They sat on top of the observation deck’s wall, shouting “aeroplane” and stomping their feet on the iron sheet roof of the departure hall below.

Recurring news topics:

The attacks on foreigners in some South African townships had many Malawians worried about their relatives. Several dozen buses were sent to bring home fleeing Malawians. For generations Malawians have gone to South Africa to work there. And some have lived all their life in SA. From a linguistic perspective I wondered why the BBC and other media used the term “xenophobic attacks” instead of the “r” word.

Muluzi’s arrest.

The Zimbabwe election.

Internet in Blantyre:

wifi at Shoprite / Chichiri

Compared to last year, there are more WiFi hotspots. The costs are high, especially for private customers. The IT marketer in me kept discussing possible business ideas that improved connectivity could entail for Blantyre-based companies. E.g. outsourcing accounting services to Blantyre or working with a creative agency.

It was good to see BT. A mixture of peanut butter, BBC World Service, Chombe tea, nsima, boerewors, chiperoni, jumping dogs, waiting…