Making Our Way Around Africa

 Hello Family, Friends and Followers!

Our travels in Africa put us almost 2 months behind on our blog. We will try our best to get caught up in the next few weeks. 

When we last left off, we had just arrived in Lusaka, Zambia after a long train and taxi journey.  We spent one night there and got on a bus to Livingstone the following morning.  We didn't realize that Easter weekend would be such a travel weekend. Everything was booked and packed!  We had to take a minibus because all of the buses were full. The 6-hour ride turned into a 9-hour ride and we arrived in Livingstone just before 8:00 p.m. We were lucky to find one of the last remaining rooms in town at a less than desirable hostel but it was better than nothing. 

The following day we made our way to Victoria Falls...that was the reason we were there!  Victoria Falls is claimed to be the largest sheet of falling water in the world thus earning it a spot on the list of World Heritage Sites.  It was definitely impressive and lived up to its description.  We were there during the end of the rainy season and the sheer power of the waterfall was incredible.  We were awestruck at the volume of the water that poured out and over the massive cliff. 

During rainy season you get wet and we mean really wet!  We threw on some plastic covers but those were basically a joke to make you look ridiculous as if there was even a remote chance of keeping an article of clothing dry.

Pre-waterfall viewing.  Dry for now but not for long.

Stunning view of the bridge connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Come on waterfall! Is that all you've got?

Sheer force and thunderous roars! We waited for a long time for the mist to subside so we could snap a picture.

We were soaking wet and all smiles.  It was like being a kid and playing in the rain.  We spent hours getting soaked and laughing.  It was so much fun. We definitely recommend seeing the falls during the rainy season as long as you bring a good attitude with you.  We are curious to see what it looks like during the dry season.  Guess that's an excuse for a future visit.

Double rainbow means double the fun.

Between the water from the falls and the downpour of rain, we finally caught a glimpse of sunshine so we could take a picture together.

A few hours later and we were finally drying out.

View from Boiling Pot and the hike around the ridge of the waterfall.

We did some research and found out that you could actually visit the Zimbabwean side of the falls for the day without having to pay for a visa.  Zambia and Zimbabwe permit you to make day trips from each side.  We were thrilled that we would be able to visit another country for the day albeit only the border of the country.  It still counts, though!

The beautiful Zambezi River

Welcome to Zimbabwe!!!!

Yep, that's a towel as a baby holder.  We're going to bring this back to the States when we get ready to have a baby.  It's cheap and has multi uses.

More double rainbows.  These two rainbows made a complete circle under and around the bridge. Now, you don't see that everyday.

Saying our last goodbyes to the falls.

Leanne's friend from college, Leah, told us to splurge and grab drinks at The Royal Livingstone. It's a fancy hotel with and even fancier view.  Thanks for the suggestion, Leah!  What fantastic way to celebrate the end of another beautiful day.  Cheers! Martinis and beers never tasted better.

We made our way back to Lusaka so we could press onward to Malawi.  The bus was "scheduled" to leave at 10:30 a.m.  There's no such thing as an on time departure in Zambia.  We waited on the bus for 4 hours until it filled up.  We were losing our patience but we had entertainment from the vendors.  This guy was trying his best to sell a wig and some perfume.  There is no such thing as a random item in Africa. 

It's always bring your child to work day in Africa.  We were amazed at how well behaved the little children were.  Most babies just slept while wrapped on their mother's back.  On a disturbing note, several women offered to let us have one of their children.  Although we would have loved to show those babies a good life, we are fairly certain that is illegal. 

Yep, 4 hours later and this guy was still trying to coax people into going to Malawi.

We finally arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi at 4:00 a.m.  It was a long night and a horrible night's sleep in a dirty hostel dorm room.  We had to spend two nights here before we could made our way to Nkharta Bay.

It's 5:00 p.m. on a Friday night which means it's quitting time!

A real conversation that took place while we were walking around Lilongwe

Random Guy: "Hey white man!" (in a soft voice)
Josh to Leanne: "Is he talking to me"?
Random Guy: "Hey white man!" (a little louder)
Josh to Leanne: "I think he's talking to me?"
Random Guy: "HEY WHITE MAN!" (screaming at this point)
Josh to Leanne: "He must be talking to me because I'm the only white man around here."

Josh then turned to the random man and the random man gave him a big grin and a thumbs up.  You've gotta love Africa!

After another 7-hour bus ride and 1 hour taxi ride we found ourselves a little piece of paradise on the lake. 

After another 7-hour bus ride and 1 hour taxi ride we found ourselves a little piece of paradise on the lake. 

We stayed at Mayorka Village and it was a green environment complete with composting toilets! We highly recommend staying here if you find yourself in Malawi.

Saturday afternoon soccer games!  The entire town was in attendance and it was so much fun watching their passion for the game.

Blending in? Not so much.

Nhkarta Bay is absolutely beautiful. 

When we were checking in, we both said that we needed to email Fiona (our friend from the train ride) as soon as we could get some sort of internet connection.  As luck would have it, we looked up and their was Fiona!  She had just checked in a few hours before us.  What are the odds of that?  We were thrilled to spent the next several days with our buddy. 

Both Leanne and Fiona made several new friends and got in some much needed girl time! 

Josh felt like a stud with all of these gorgeous ladies surrounding him, that is until they all started talking about girly things and he lost interest rather quickly.

Our place even had canoes so of course we took one out for paddle around the lake. 

Josh taught some local cuties how to snorkel. 

After a few hours we made it back to our home away from home.  Our bungalow was the one with the bay window.  It was incredible. We were only supposed to stay for four day but we wound up staying six.  Yes, we have it so hard...we know. 

Hitchin' a ride up the hill after a night out on the town. 

Our guesthouse took us out on the lake for a few hours.  Of course, we packed the small boat to the brim before we took off. 

Our first stop was to feed a Sea Eagle

We then went "cliff jumping".  It was really just a high rock but it was still fun.  picture of Josh jumping in the water

Beach babes

There is an overwhelming love for President Obama throughout Africa.  President Obama's face and name are everywhere including this little boy's tattered shirt.

After 6 glorious days it was time to start a real adventure. We researched but couldn't find much about traveling from Malawi to Rwanda via bus.  It could take anywhere from 4-7 days depending on if we got to the borders in time.  We both decided we were up for the challenge and were ready to move on from Nkharta Bay. 

It was tough but we had to say our goodbyes to Fiona.  She was planning on returning to Malawi in a couple of weeks to start a job. Only Fiona could walk into a bar/restaurant/hotel and come out with a job of managing it for 6 weeks.  Congrats, friend! We can't wait to hear all of your stories when we see you in London in August. 

This was our rough itinerary for the following few days including all of our forms of transportation:

Day 1
Mini-bus from Nhakarta Bay to Mizuzu 
This was supposed to take us 45 minutes but in true African fashion, it took us 1 and a half hours.

Bus from Mizuzu to the border of Malawi 
This was supposed to take 5 hours and but our luck would have it that we were on one of the slowest buses in Africa. We literally didn't go over 30 mph the entire time.  Our 5-hour trip turned into seven. 

Those few hours cost us a border crossing.  We had to find a guesthouse and spend the night in the border town, Karanga.  That was definitely not in the plan.  Luckily, a nice taxi driver took us to a guesthouse close to the bus station. 

Day 1 modes of transportation:
2 minibuses
1 taxi

Day 2
Karonga to Mbeya, Tanzania

The alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. and as we lurched out of bed, we asked ourselves "why are we doing this?". 

We were out the door and greeted with a downpour as we were walking to the bus station.  Luckily, it only last 20 minutes. 

Leanne made Josh do a photo shoot session while we waited.  He wasn't the happiest of campers so she was trying to lighten the mood. 

When the rain cleared,  we hopped in a mini-bus crammed to the roof and crossed the border into Tanzania.  It was then another 4-hour bus ride to Mbeya.  We got out of the bus 5 miles too early and had to catch a rickshaw to the bus station.  We promptly bought bus tickets to Dodoma for the following day to make sure our plans were secured. 

While walking around Mbeya we found more Obama love. Too bad this restaurant was closed.  

Day 2 modes of transportation:
2 minibuses
1 motorbike taxi each
1 rickshaw

Day 3
Mbeya to Dodoma

It was another early start as the bus departed for Dodoma at 7:00 a.m.  The good thing about this leg of the journey was the landscape. Lush, rolling hills abound! We even drove through a national park for 50 miles.  We saw elephants, giraffes, hyenas, wild boars and impalas!  Unfortunately, the bus was going at a speed that did not allow for pictures through the window. 

The bad part of this leg of the journey was the lack of food.  We wound up eating a bunch of bananas that we purchased off of a street vendor.  That was all that we ate for the day.  Is it bad to consume multiple bananas throughout the day?  

We arrived in Dodoma around 9:00 p.m. exhausted and hungry.  It strange how tiring it can be sitting on an uncomfortable bus for 9 hours straight.  We were definitely worried about finding a place to stay for the night.

We told the taxi driver we didn't want too spend much on a room.  The room was cheap as dirt. This is  what you get for going cheap...a dirty, squatter toilet was thrown in at no extra charge! 

Funny note: 

When we checked into this guest house Josh pulled out his passport to give to the man working.  He did not need our passport just our names and what tribe we belonged to.  What tribe?  Josh had to think fast on his feet so he wrote the "Obama" tribe.  So in some remote area in Western Tanzania there's a tribe on record called the Obama tribe with two members.

Day 3 modes of transportation:
1 bus
1 taxi
Day 4
Dodoma to Kahama

 We headed to the bus station to board our "Sports" bus early in the morning.  We arrived when it was still dark. 

The sun rose and we were on our way!

This adorable couple rode on the bus with us.  They had matching outfits and held hands as soon as they got off of the bus.  True love!

From hills to flat landscape.

Who's ready for a snack? more bananas!

After our long journey we finally crossed the border into Rwanda.

We were greeted by a raging river.

We went through a brief check to make sure we didn't bring over any plastic bags.  They are illegal in Rwanda.  Josh had his taken away but Leanne got away without losing any.  We had to take a mini bus to Kigali but we finally made it!!! 

Day 4 modes of transportation:
1 bus
2 mini buses
1 motorbike taxi each

 Our trip from Malawi to Rwanda had finally come to an end. 

Final tally:
66 hours on buses
6 mini buses
2 coach buses
2 taxis
1 rickshaw
4 motorbike taxis

It was an exhausting experience but the journey was priceless!

When we arrived in Kigali we went to the Airtell store (cell phone).  Josh had purchased a sim card at the border but our phone wouldn't dial any numbers.  We went into the store and were greeted by Aisha.  She informed us that our cell phone number needed to be connected to a local sponsor.  She asked us if we knew anyone in Rwanda.  We told her we didn't and she was so generous and offered to sponsor us and used her information so our phone would work. Talk about customer service!  She then asked if we had a place to stay.  We told her we didn't and that we were on a budget.  She insisted that she would show us to a nice place that was affordable for us.  She hopped on a motorbike, as did we and showed us to a hotel.  We couldn't believe her generosity.  She went above and beyond to make us feel welcomed in Kigali.  We actually met up with her the following night and met her family, her cousin, and she took us to a fabulous local restaurant. 

She has a heart of gold and is so beautiful on the inside and outside!  

 It amazed us at how kind and friendly the people of Rwanda are considering the tragic history of the country.  As wikipedia describes, the Rwandan genocide was a genocidal mass slaughter of the Tutsis by the Hutus that took place in 1994. 

We visited the genocide museum and it was completely heartbreaking.  Over 500,000 people were killed from April 6- mid-July.  

It's hard to believe that a country filled with such warm-hearted and friendly people could have endured such a devastating event only 19 years ago.  

We are glad to see the progress of this country and we commend them for their continued positive outlook on life. 

We had heard that Burundi, just South of Rwanda, was a beautiful and untouched country so we jumped on a 7-hour bus headed there.

Untouched is definitely a good way to describe Burundi.  They are not accustomed to seeing tourists and we were only granted a 3-day visa.  This was going to be a fast trip so we tried to make the best of our short stay.

Guess what? More bananas!

Tanganyika Lake is the longest lake in the world and the second deepest lake in the world.  It is also the source of the Nile River.  This was of interest to us since we would be in Egypt in a few days.

We managed to catch a wedding on the lake.

It was very windy but quite a nice lake that sat on the capital city of Bujumbura.

To be completely honest there wasn't much to do in Bujumbura as far as tourist sites go so we ended up  hanging out on the beach all day and goofing around.

We told you it was windy!

Check out those blowing locks!

After sitting on the beach we headed out to another destination further along the lake to take in the sunset.

We weren't the only ones enjoying the view!

After some beers we headed back to our hotel to enjoy the remainder of the evening.  We actually rode three deep on a motorbike taxi to get back to our hotel.  Safe? Definitely not!  Josh was celebrating that we made it back to the hotel OK.

It was a very short stay, indeed. Before we new it, it was time to part ways with Burundi and head back to Rwanda.

We went back through customs and were on our way back to Kigali.

Crossing the border by foot was a scene you would only find in Africa. 

When we arrived back in Kigali we checked out more genocide memorials including the famous Hotel Des Mille Collines otherwise known as Hotel Rwanda from the movie.

At one point this church housed 16,000 refugees trying to escaped the genocide in Rwanda.

Remember how we said they love President Obama in Africa?  They love him so much they even have strawberry Obama chewing gum!

It's even magic!!  The flavor only last about 2.5 seconds and we are almost positive it will rot your teeth but we had to try it.  We wonder if President Obama knows he has chewing gum floating around in Africa.

All good things must come to an end.  It was time for us to head to Egypt so we had to say our farewell wishes to Aisha before we headed to the airport.  She surprised us with a present of a painting of traditional dancers from her village in East Rwanda.

Aisha, you are such a beautiful person and our lives are richer for knowing you.  You are a true friend and we miss you and your family so much.  You made our time in Rwanda unforgettable.  Thank you  for all that you did for us.  We will think of you and your family every time we look at that picture.

As always, thanks for following!

Fingers crossed that we can get another post up soon.

Leanne & Josh