Saturday, 20 July 2013

Day 6: Blantyre

Victoria Hall in Blantyre

We had breakfast in Blantyre Lodge which didn't prove to be as uncomfortable as I first feared when we checked in. After breakfast we called the Henderson Guesthouse to see if they had any rooms, pleased to find out they did we checked out and walked across town to drop off our bags.

After checking in (and treating ourselves to a room each at the reasonably rate of £9 a night including breakfast) we walked into town for a look around. We walked past Blantyre's oldest building the rather sad looking Boma and then past the Victoria Hall.

Fabric stall in the market

After checking out the colonial buildings we drifted through the backstreets, past some private security guards being drilled and into the markets. The market seemed more lively than the one we visited in Lilongwe and quite a few people asked to have their photo taken which I found curious. They didn't want ask for a copy of the photo or any money, they seemingly just wanted to pose for the camera.

I bought mum some traditional Malawian fabrics in the market.

Pineapple stall in the market

After the market was walked up to Mandala House, the former home of the Great Lakes Trading company which was set up by two early Scottish settlers. We had a drink in the smart Mandala café which was seemingly frequented by the European crowd. I noticed that the crockery was from Australia, a small but extravagant expense in a country like Malawi.

It was interesting to read the papers and discover that inflation was at 30%, interest rates at 25% and about a new DfID project that was launching. With inflation that high we should notice prices rise during our visit. I decided I'd keep a close eye on the price of a bottle of water.

 Mandala House

After our drinks we had a look round the art gallery / shop downstairs and round the reading room upstairs.

We then slowly drifted to St Michael and All Angels church where Ed's uncle is burried having died at the age of four days old. A group grave diggers who were working in the graveyard helped us to search for the grave and after fifteen minutes of searching we found it.

After a look at the inside of the church we headed back into town for a late lunch (4pm) at an Ethiopian café near our guesthouse. It turned out to have some of the best food we ate in Malawi.

St Michael and All Angels Church
In the evening Ed's distant relatives collected us and took us to their house for dinner. They live in a large(ish) colonial house just outside of the centre of town. Sadly it was dark when we arrived so we didn't get a good view of the outside, but the lounge where we spent most of the evening had gigantically high ceilings.

They seemed to love life in Malawi for its simple pleasures, well aware that they didn't have all the luxuries available in the UK but not caring at all. They were very hospitable.

Dinner was some lovely fish from lake Malawi prepared by their cook. I think it's the first time I've ever been cooked for by domestic staff!

The grave of Ed's uncle

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