Picture It

Trip to Lilongwe

Posted in Malawi by stefaniegiglio on 02 June 2010

I visited Lilongwe this last weekend to advertise my photography business at a fair held at the Bishop Mackenzie International School.  The weekend went well, especially on the business side of things–I will be shooting and helping advertise a new branch of a popular bar in the city and I might (still working on it!) be photographing 65 students at a daycare.

The rest of the weekend included drinks at the bar mentioned above and a braii/barbecue.  Leave it to me to find any Italians or Italian speakers within 100m, as I did at both places!

The most interesting part of my trip (as in the most interesting for you all to read about) would be the bus rides from Monkey Bay to Lilongwe and back.  By car, one can get between the two in about 3 hours.  By bus, it takes over 5 hours.  There is a sign at the front of the bus that says the occupancy maximums are 65 people sitting and 25 people standing.  If you count all the children that sat of various laps, there were probably 75-80 people sitting at any given time and 35-40 people crammed into the aisles–and that doesn’t include the luggage and person-sized bags of corn, beans, and flour that were stacked anywhere they would fit.

On my way to Lilongwe, I had someone sit on my lap, someone sit on my shoulder, someone use my head as an arm rest, and a baby tried to pull my shirt down to nurse.  When I recounted this to Dida, the lady who graciously let me stay with her family that weekend, she laughed and said,”Well, that’s part of the African Experience, I guess…even if most Africans never go through that!”

The ride back was much more manageable.  I decided to sit on top of a stack of bags full of various foodstuffs, which put me too high for people to sit or lean on.  It was also cloudy.  Sometimes a lack of sun beating on you can make all the difference!

I had intended to take a picture of the Lilongwe skyline, but I’d forgotten that the city doesn’t really have one.  There are a few hills and a few multistory buildings, but nothing close together enough or prominent enough to be called a definitive “skyline” or “cityscape” in the way that most other large cities do.  Instead, I’ll leave you with a landscape that I took on my way home.  It’s nothing spectacular since I actually shot it through the window while the bus was in motion, but it will give you an idea of the beauty I got to look at for a few hours this weekend.

View from the bus on my way from Lilongwe back to Monkey Bay, Malawi.