Africa Vignette Series

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At the end of the month we’re heading to the Maasai Mara for the annual wildebeest migration. Between now and then, here is a blizzard of little African vignettes. They are just short little bits, not in any particular order, not particularly edited. Maybe they’ll entice you to visit too one day. Hope you enjoy them. All the photos in this series are from EarthPhotos.com.

19 Malawi

When we met, our driver told us, “I am Everlasting.” We sort of looked away, and then we realized that was his name.

Everlasting was a slow, deliberate speaker, easy enough to understand once you got acclimated. His “S’s” kind of trailed off.

The Lilongwe River lolled by the market, near the old city administration building “from when Lilongwe was a small town.” The new city hall, beacon of progress, had a “Ready Print” shop sign in a window on the second floor.

Everlasting showed us the flame tree, its red flower. What he called a tube tree at the central outdoor market, where a smiling little boy saw my camera and excitedly grabbed his friend’s arm.

The mosque.

A few kilometers out of town, people along the roadside carried everything you could imagine. A stack of firewood, one guy with a dozen bright crimson pin wheels twirling in each hand.

“These people are coming back from the market. They have been selling.”

They’re Chewa, originally from Congo via Zambia, and among the longest settled Malawian tribes. Portuguese contact with the Chewa came as early as 1608, with evidence of the first Chewa kingdom just before the 1492 voyage of Columbus.

Everlasting began a lecture on goats: They should be tied so as not to eat the maize. Sometimes you cannot see where the goat is tied because the rope is so long. But sometimes the rope is gone away.

If you see a forest, Everlasting said, it is probably a cemetery. Village people cannot use cemetery land for growing, so, sensibly, they choose stands of forest for their burial grounds.

On a flagpole the national flag hung limp.

“The wind is not blowing so it is closed,” Everlasting explained. Across the flag a red sun rose from the top of three bands, and Everlasting said that represents fire.

“The national team when they have done well we call them the Flames. When they have not, well, then it is silent.”

When Everlasting got particularly involved in his stories, he’d punctuate his remarks with the car horn. Talkin’ and tappin’ and tootin’.

This entire series of vignettes will reside here, in the Africa section. If you enjoy them please have a look at my two travel books, Common Sense and Whiskey and Visiting Chernobyl.

Common Sense and Whiskey, the Book – Malawi, Chapter Fourteen

Here is Chapter Fourteen of Common Sense and Whiskey, the book, including a journey on the famous MV Ilala across Lake Malawi. We're publishing each chapter here on the blog (Track down previous chapters here). You can order the entire book for just $9.99 at Amazon.com, at BN.com, or direct from EarthPhotos Publishing. Here's the Kindle version (just $4.99). Click these photos to make them bigger. More photos and additional commentary are available at A Common Sense and Whiskey Companion. And here's the Malawi Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.


14 LAKE MALAWI

“On your right is area 50. This here is area 28, light industrial area. Across the road there is fertilizer factory and tobacco factory. That is heavy industrial area.”

The national police headquarters came into view on the right.

“That is area 40.”

Just across the street, “Area 43,” Everlasting explained, “Is low industrial. It used to be only area ten, and area ten is still there, but it is full, so they have made area 43.”

“We also have names but our names are too long, so we just say, say, area 12.”

Malawi’s Ministries stood on the left.

“So, is that area 1?”

Logical, I thought.

“No, that is area 20.”

This went on all through Lilongwe.

“Ah, that is area 47. Up there, that’s area 49. National Bank. Bank of the Nation.” The tallest building in Malawi is the central bank.

“This is the Jehovah’s Witness headquarters in Malawi.”

•••••

When we met, our driver told us, “I am Everlasting.” We sort of looked away, and then we realized that was his name.

Everlasting was a slow, deliberate speaker, easy enough to understand once you got acclimated. His “S’s” kind of trailed off.

Continue reading

Wednesday HDRs from Malawi

Cobuelakemalawi
Kidsmalawi

For me, Malawi was a feel good place, and I think these photos show it. Happy people, agreeable, gentle pace of life. Later this week we’ll publish Chapter 14 from Common Sense and Whiskey – the book (Amazon, BNKindle – Kindle’s just $4.99) here on the blog. It’s the story of our crossing Lake Malawi on the legendary passenger ship the MV Ilala.

These photos are both re-exposed nine times and recombined in Photomatix, finished in CS5 with Nik filters. There are 384 more HDRs in the HDR Gallery at EarthPhotos.com. Click these two to make them much bigger.

 

Great Quotes Collection

"The last time I saw Jack the Whipper it was ten a.m. and he was picking a fight with a one-armed clown. "
 

– Possibly apocryphal, but attributed to Mick the Whip. From a very funny story about purveyors of leather goods who clashed in titanic whip competitions (like Two-Handed Whip Pyrotechnics and Synchronized Whipping) in the 1990s in Darwin, Australia. Heard on safari in Zambia, as told by Denis and Georgina, whose further identity, since they're still running a safari camp at an undisclosed location in Malawi, will be protected.

 

Wednesday HDR: Likoma Island, Malawi

In this week's Wednesday HDR, a tailor works at his open air shop on Likoma Island, Lake Malawi.

The story of our journey across Lake Malawi to Likoma Island is Chapter Fourteen of Common Sense and Whiskey, the book. We're excerpting the book here on the blog, and you can read the entire chapter here later this year. Not that you need to wait.

LikomaIslandMalawiHDR

This is a single shot HDR, re-exposed at +2, 0 & -2 ev, saved as .tifs, tonemapped in Photomatix and finished in CS5. There are 341 more photos in the HDR Gallery at EarthPhotos.com, and 184 photos in the Malawi Gallery. Click the photo to make it much bigger.

From the Eventual Book: Lake Malawi by Steamer

It's the next chapter in a series from the eventual book Common
Sense and Whiskey.
Previous entries: Madagascar, Greenland,
Patagonia,
Sri
Lanka
, Tasmania,
Paraguay,

Climbing Mt. Kinabalu
, Tibet
and Cambodia.
Today we sail Lake Malawi along the coasts of Malawi and Mozambique.
Click the photos for larger versions.

Likoma


“On your right is area 50. This here is area 28, a light industrial area. Across the road there is fertilizer factory and tobacco factory. That is heavy industrial area.”

The national police headquarters came into view on the right.

“That is area 40.”

Just across the street, “Area 43,” Everlasting explained, “Is low industrial. It used to be only area ten, and area ten is still there, but it is full, so they have made area 43.”

“We also have names but our names are too long, so we just say, say, area 12.”

Malawi’s Ministries stood on the left.

“So, is that area 1?”

Logical, I thought.

“No, that is area 20.”

This went on all through Lilongwe.

“Ah, that is area 47. Up there, that’s area 49. National Bank. Bank of the Nation.” The tallest building in Malawi is the central bank.

“This is the Jehovah’s Witness headquarters in Malawi.”

When we met, our guide told us, “I am Everlasting.” We looked away. Then we realized that was his name.

Continue reading