Tobacco auction room in Limbe
I was woken at 5am by the sound of crockery being put away in the kitchen. Malawians seem to rise early. After breakfast at the guesthouse (egg and chips again) we walked into town to catch a minibus in Limbe.
The minibus took forever to travel the short distance to Limbe and we couldn't work out where we'd been dropped off when we arrived. After we walked around for a while and through the huge open air market (selling a lot of second hand clothes) we found the train station. We asked for permission to take some photos and were denied. It seemed a bit strange for public transport!
Smiling chap moving a sold bale
I was feeling a bit queezy as we walked away from the train station and through Limbe. I wasn't sure if it was a lingering bug or the anti-malarial tablets.
We walked towards the tobacco auction rooms, the main reason for coming to Limbe. We asked one of the guards at the gate if we could enter for a look around. He called a manager, who phoned another manager and we were allowed through the gate and shown into an office. As we entered the office a group of people watching the cricket on TV were shooed out and we were invited to sit in front of the desk. Yet another manager was telephone and then we had the green light to see the auction floor!
The smell of tobacco hit us as we walked onto the floor filled with large bales of tobacco weighing around 80kg each. The open outcry auction had ended for the day, but there were still some direct sales going on. Our guide explained to us that there were three different types of tobacco. Most of the tobacco came from small producers who were selling one or two bales each and it was being bought by the big boys for export. Prices seemed to range from $200 - 400 USD per kg (not bale).
It was fantastic that they let us in and after 10 - 15mins looking around we left again.
Old UK fire truck
On leaving the auctions we took a minibus back to Blantyre and visited an internet café where I learnt there had been a leak in my flat back home. I wish I hadn't checked!
We popped by the guesthouse and then had a traditional lunch of nsima and chicken. After lunch we walked out of town of town to a primary school which is on / near the site where Ed's grandparents house was. We knew that one of the houses had been demolished and couldn't find the other one.
Outside of the school there was a posted showing the students using RM computers. I used to build computers in the RM factory when I was a uni student. I was quite pleased to think that one of my machines could be in Malawi!
Sunset views from the Sunbird Hotel
After a rest at the guesthouse we went for a couple of G&Ts at the Sunbird Sochi Hotel to watch the sunset. The Malawian gin was really good and was only £2 each in one of Blantyre's smartest hotels. Fantastic. The gin was cheaper than the tonic which was amazing.
Enjoying a G&T
For dinner we visited the Ethopian restaurant again for more good food. I was tempted by a dessert I'd heard called the Dusty Road at Blantyre's top restaurant Club 21, but I was so full we headed back to the guesthouse instead.