We've maintained radio silence for the last 2 weeks now since Vilankulos due to a lack of internet facilities. Now, 2 weeks later. as we relax in Blantyre we can reflect back on the past events and experiences.

 We left Vilankulos with a predicament, our free 30 day visa that was issued at the border was coming to an end and we were still in Mozambique. This left us with 2 options:

1) Take a detour West into Mutare in Zimbabwe, exit and then re-enter Mozambique and continue North through Tete and enter Malawi at the Zobue border post. This would also back-tracking to Blantyre and adding approximately another 300km.  
2) Get a lift for 200-300km, thereby saving 3-4 days of cycling and continuing straight up the centre of Mozambique, taking the more exciting dirt roads and entering an area where travelers are scarce.

The second option obviously had more appeal (as we heard rumours that we could take a hand-crank ferry across the mighty Zambezi) and would save approximately 300km and 6-7 days. The trick now was to find that elusive lift. As we cycled up the EN1 from Vilankulos the scenery started changing from lush, densely packed coconut palms and other trees to a more open, bushveld type of vegetation. Naartjies became scarce but bananas could be bought for a few cents with Pao (Portuguese rolls that are widely available throughout Mozam) and banana became a staple food for me.

2 days out of Vilankulos at the Save River crossing we saw our chance. There is an impressive 800m long suspension bridge, policed by the traffic authority. This causes trucks to stop just before the bridge and provided the perfect opportunity to try and bum a lift. We met Thomas, who offered us a lift on his truck; this would mean strapping our bicycles (and ourselves) to the top of the truck for the 250km ride to Inchope. We accepted this, with some apprehension, and loaded our bicycles. We sat on the top of the truck in front of the bicycles and bags and gripped the ropes that strapped the tarpaulin to the truck with white knuckles, knowing full well the precarious position we were in. After 20min of holding on for dear life we heard a sudden loud pop and strengthened our grip on the ropes expecting the truck to swerve as a tyre had just blown. Luckily (extremely) for us the truck slowed down nice and calmly and when we climbed down from the truck one of the back wheels had blown and the truck was resting on the adjacent wheel.

Resourcefulness is a necessity in Africa and Thomas quickly waved down another lift and before we knew it our bicycles were transferred to the top of a bigger, 18 wheeler truck and we were safely ensconced in the horse. These trucks are surprisingly big inside and we found ourselves with 3 other passengers, 1 in the passenger's seat and the other 2 seated with us, behind the driver on a 3/4 bed. The 2 passengers on the bed soon disembarked leaving the siyashova team with the bed and a surreal experience as the sun set ahead of us, driving in the twilight listening to Phil Collins blearing on the speakers.

We soon arrived at Inchope, got a place at a local rest stop and settled in for the night. We left the next morning for Gorongosa and on any given day Imraan is usually at the front, pushing himself and his bicycle to the limit but that day he struggles getting up hills, even resorting to pushing his bicycle up and needing to take breaks very often due to weakness. With Imraan feeling unwell we stopped early and found a mosque to spend the night. Even though Imraan was feverish it was me that ended up vomiting outside the mosque (probably due to the dry, salted fish I had eaten at the market earlier that day).

The next day, with Imraan still unwell we decided to have a rest day in Gorongosa and get him tested for Malaria. Ria was to continue cycling and we would catch up with him in Caia, as getting a lift for 2 bicycles is much easier than getting a lift for 3. Luckily Imraan was negative for Plasmodium Falciparum (the more serious of the malaria strains) and with some rest felt a whole lot better. We also managed to meet Acub, a Portuguese national that is busy setting up telecommunication towers all over Mozambique and offered us a lift in his bakkie 130km down the road and 110km from Caia (where we were to meet Ria). We cycled that day and met Ria the next morning in Caia. From Caia we continued on good dirt roads for 2 days to Malawi, passing through small villages, through Sena and Mutarara up to the Malawi border of Villa Nova.

Immediately after crossing the border the difference was evident. On the Mozambique side as we passed through, children greeted us with ‘hellos’, ‘goodbyes’ and well wishes. On the Malawi side we were shouted at with ‘give me money’. This was limited to the children and throughout Malawi the adults have been exceptionally friendly and very interested in our journey. The other similar experience with this sort harassment was in Lesotho and I’m not sure if it is due to the foreign aid (as we passed many a UN and other international NGO vehicles) or missionaries (which were also prevalent in Lesotho). This however is a debate for another day.

The awesome thing about Malawi is the number of bicycles on the road. There are also cycle lanes on the side of dirt roads that weave in and out of bushes, around trees and through channels. These are a pleasure to ride as 3 days of cycling on dirt roads gets mentally and physically exhausting.

With another long stint of no showers we were getting more and more dirty. The dust that caked itself on us due to sweat now turned into a brown paste as we applied mosquito repellant in an effort to keep the numerous mosquitoes at bay. The 40km uphill ride into Blantyre was exhausting and many breaks were taken by myself and Ria on this long stretch. We stopped for papayas, got a new knopkierrie fashioned, had milkshakes and visited a historic tree that David Livingstone once sat under. Imraan, however, cycled straight into Blantyre (with the prospect of lunch beckoning) and with limited communications we had lost each other.

Ria and I met Abdul Gaffar (Imraan’s family friend) and he mobilized troops that went to look for our missing comrade. Imraan was soon located and it turns out that he waited from noon for us (without food, money or a working cell phone) until 5pm when we leisurely rolled into town. For the last 3 days Abdul Gaffar has graciously hosted us and seen to our every need. The hospitality that we have received has been phenomenal. We met Abdul Gaffar’s cousin, Faisal, a local business man and philanthropist who, within the space of 1 hour, organized a TV, radio and newspaper interview.