Stage 53 (34): Luviri School to Kasungu
Back to a somewhat late start this morning due to the promised ‘easy day.’ Sunrise about 5:48, bags on truck at 6:00, breakfast at 6:30. As it turned out, seemingly all the group were clustered around the coffee station by 6:00 so it was somewhat more social than usual.
Away by 7:00 through the school yard and waving kids, back out to the M1 highway and head south under grey skies. We’re passing through what seems a very open stretch of land; gently rolling hills, agriculture predominately if not totally consisting of small subsistence plots of maize and other vegetables. What shops occur in the roadside settlements are often closed up. It might be the hour of the morning or perhaps they’re just closed. I notice yet again how many buildings are deserted (window openings having no glass, doorways having no doors). I see more than one petrol station(?) or potential factory or warehouse not completed, the building site appearing abandoned. Is that a result of Covid, or does it pre-date the pandemic? I don’t know.
I pass this collection of stores or shops; most buildings empty (save the ubiquitous AirTel kiosks), and small pedlars setting up outside, their veggies on display.
I also pass this construction site; preparation of a building complex of some kind? What strikes me is the collection of men standing about at the entrance, all looking inward. I’m guessing they’re there hoping to get a bit of work.
The rain showers start about 60 minutes into this mornings ride, soon turning to real rain. I take shelter for about 20 minutes at an operating petrol station, along with a cluster of locals; the attached convenience store(?) is totally empty; that is, a truly bare, empty room. Strange. I give up waiting longer as I’m already wet through, and just standing is leading me to get cold. I may as well pedal.
Sure enough, after 20-30 minutes further down the road the rain starts to let up, eventually stopping by the time I reach the lunch truck at 10:00. The sun is out and the temperature rapidly warming by the time I push off again after the re-fuel.
During a lull of sorts in this morning’s rain, I pass this fellow ferrying his boy (brother?). He’s been going for some distance at a very good pace, especially given his load. The little boy’s knapsack hung on the handlebars suggests school?
Note the rake on those front forks.
The afternoon warms to mid-20s and it’s certainly humid, but not too bad. I take a breather after the second and last climb of the day; a shady spot in someone’s front entrance as it turns out. The kids are really intrigued as to what the heck I’m doing there, but the ladies further back wave and speak in what I take to be friendly tones.
I get to camp by 1:00 - earliest day yet. Plenty of time to get the wet tent set up and dried out, and find a shower to clean myself up. By 3:30 my tent is in the shade, and I go prone for a mid-afternoon snooze.
Dinner early given sunset at 6:00; a major rainstorm hits us during dinner, about 5:30. It’s torrential - a real African downpour. We cluster under the truck awning for the hour that the worst takes to pass. Into my tent shortly after 7:00 - all seems dry inside, at least.
There’s a group of breeding Black-headed Herons in the trees above; they’re making quite the racket. Who knew that wading birds nest in tall trees? And why don’t they call it a night?