Bus to Blantyre from Lilongwe

Friday, March 23, 2018
Blantyre, Southern Region, Malawi
Brennan and Michala picked us up and took us to the bus station for our 7:00 a.m. bus to Blantyre.  It’s supposed to be a four hour journey, but we were 15 minutes late getting started and there was quite a bit of rain on the ride down with intermittent sunshine, it wasn’t until noon before we arrived in Blantyre.  Malawi has experienced a strange year with rainfall.  They had a no rainfall at all in January, the month when it is needed for the maize crops.  Much of the maize in the country has failed.  Then in late February and now in March which is harvest time, torrential rains have come.  You can see that in some of the photos from yesterday’s blog. The Malawi countryside is beautiful with verdant scenery. Steep buttes arise and as I’ve said before, this area reminds me of western South Dakota near Sturgis (where all the Harley bikers congregate every summer).
Lots and lots of people walk along the M1 highway that we were on.  This is the main highway all the way through Malawi.  Part of it forms the boundary of the countries of Malawi and Mozambique.   Pastor Gracious Mpilangwe picked us up at the bus station.  It’s always good to reconnect. It seems like just yesterday that we saw him but it's been a year.
There were many police stops along the route. I would say at least seven or eight.  The Mozambique border in some places is on the right hand side of the road.  Most of the time the police look at the insurance stickers, strut around and let you go on. 
At one of the stops the policeman became belligerent and asked for a fine. A large one.  The bus driver was trying to talk him out of it.  Then the policeman told the driver to collect from the passengers. From us!  More talking.  The bus driver disappeared for about 15 minutes.  Then, he came back.  We had no idea what happened or what was settled.
We also drove to change US money into Malawi kwachas. The hotel we’re staying in is called Heritage. We used to stay here when it was called the Highlands Shiri which had really gone downhill in quality and had cockroaches and dirt.  It was ultimately closed for quite some time. Now, it’s reopened under the new name by Sri Lankans who are most accommodating to us.  They even waived the charges for Internet.  The Internet here is quite good as the owner of the largest Internet provider in Malawi called Global, is the one who has his system installed here.
Tomorrow is the Sabbath and our first meeting with brethren.  We really look forward to seeing everyone and the new Blantyre Church building.  
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