Getting the few hundred miles to Malawi in one day turned out, as so often happens with public transport, to be a bit optimistic. The bus left two hours late (at six in the morning), but seemed to be moving along at a decent pace. We were on an earth road two hours out of Tete when a funny kind of grating sound started up from near the back. I had just enough time to realise that the sound was Not Quite Right before the nearside rear wheel flew past my window and the bus tilted alarmingly before grinding to a halt. I stuck my head out of the window to see a pool of oil (or possibly brake fluid) spreading out from where the rear axle had broken. Someone went to retrieve the wheel, and another bus turned up four hours later. By the time I arrived in Tete and got a chappa out to the border, it was too late to cross and I enjoyed the hospitality of a local cockroach-infested, waterless hotel (strangely, cheaper than all the backpacker hostels).
The transport on the Malawian side of the border turned out to be both cheaper and more efficient, and I arrived in Blantyre without any further delay. Things seem to be much cheaper here, with the happy result that I can afford to eat out a bit more (though my food options are again limited by the ubiquity of meat). Coincidentally, there is no kitchen at the hostel (self-caterers are expected to have their own equipment and use an open fire) so I’ve been introduced to nsima (maize meal) with beans from the market and sweet bread rolls, inexplicably called Bin Ladens.
I’m only in Blantyre for long enough to resupply, so tomorrow I’ll be heading out on the first convenient matola (minibus taxi) to Mulanje and the southern mountains. I also have to forget all my Portuguese and learn Chichewa. Right now, though, I’m off to annoy the British consulate staff by seeing if they have any newspapers or guidebooks.