Distances between places have now become much shorter here in Malawi. In almost every village I find a simple rest house where I stay at night. The terrain is now definitely hilly again. Following a mountain ridge I cycle along the border to Mozambique to the south, to Blantyre.
As I cycle through the country side I hear familiar sounds: the church bells ring. Many people have put on their best suite/dress and are with the bible under their arms on the way to church. A couple of times I can hear the gospel songs from the small churches: Sunday morning in Malawi. Later, along the lake there are also a lot of muslims and I already get awoken a couple of times by the muezzin.
The Zomba Plateau you can already see from far. At 1500-2000m there is a totally different vegetation and climate. After the steep climb to the top of the plateau I cycle through dense pine forest. There are lakes and small waterfalls. When I even see some milk cows with cow bells I almost feel home. The route around the plateau is rough, challenging and sometimes almost overgrown. But is great fun cycling here far from any traffic once again. Following a track I reach the highest summit at 2087m, brrr it's really cold up here.
At Cape Maclear I reach the southern end of Lake Malawi. It is the third biggest lake on the continent and more than 550km long. It is a welcomed change and a perfect place the tank up some energy. A few days I relax on the beach, watch the fishermen going out with their canoes and explore the lake myself with a kayak. The big show is every night the sunset, when the sun plunges as a fire red ball into the water.
The next days I follow the coast to the north. During the day I hardly see the lake because the road is mostly some kilometers away. But every night I find a great place directly on the beach. Like in Zambia, there are also a lot of cyclists on the road. So I often have some company for a chat: the fisherman who is on the way to the market with his catch, people who collect fire wood or one of the many bicycle taxis that transport people over short distances.
Anzugu, azunguuuu (a white man, a white man) the kids cry like a fire alarm, when ever I cycle through a village. Every now and then there is also a demanding 'give me your money' amongst the greetings.
In southern Africa as far a Malawi I was mostly cooking my own food. There were simply not that many people, distances very huge and so there was often no food available along the road. That has now changed since Malawi. I hardly cook anymore as there are now plenty of cheap restaurants. The food the locals eat, has not changed since South Africa. It is always a totally tasteless dough-like mass made from maize. Only the name has changed, from Papp to Nsima. Thanks to the lake there is now a lot of fish on the menu here in Malawi, for which I am grateful. Also the choice of fruits is now constantly getting bigger.
At the northern end of the lake I cross the border into Tanzania. I have now definitely left Southern Africa and am now in East Africa.