Thursday, May 6
Monkey Bay - Lilongwe, Malawi
It is the UK Elections today but I haven’t got a clue what is happening. Haven’t seen or heard any international news since Mbeya.
I have to confess that I lost it with the UNHCR today. For a change Bjorn’s bike is the one causing us problems. The low gears are all kaput. We asked the UNHCR to pick us up and transport us to Llongwe but they told us that ‘after a meeting they decided they cannot facilitate a lift’.
So I told them: “Bjorn has been on the road for more than 300 days; has spent around 20 grand of his own money so that he can help the refugees. And you cannot provide us with a two-hour lift?”
We are both fuming and feeling disillusioned. Disillusioned that is until Mr. Abel Mbilinyi, the UNHCR chief representative for Malawi, phones me and tells me he has fixed a lift for us. He is also organising a press conference in Llongwe and a visit to a refugee camp, and has the initiative to contact Zambia himself to tell them of our ETA there. Now this, finally, is what we wanted and needed from the UNHCR. You help us because we are helping you!
Bjorn needed this news. He was at the end of his tether to be honest.
A UNHCR land cruiser and a driver turn up at Monkey Bay three hours later as a troupe of monkeys converge on the port.
By sundown we have been escorted all the way to the Malawian capital, met a number of local representatives and…been checked into a local lodge where we are accommodated on a dinner, bed and breakfast by our new Malawian UNHCR friends. We didn’t expect this but it is highly appreciated. We each have our own room and enjoy a great meal before retiring to the unique experience of our own individual bedrooms. I even have satellite TV, enabling me to catch the UK election results as they trickle in on Al Jazeera.