22.09.2009 - 22.09.2009
For reasons that I never quite understood, Blantyre was absolutely crawling with blighters that can't even crawl, but still make my life miserable. Yes, mosquito b*stards, i mean you. And their continual buzzing presence at night part explains why i was awake by 2am on the morning I left Malawi. The fact that I was already awake at this time still does not hide my frustration at the s*dding Malawian police, who have not exactly added to my enjoyment of the country.
Again, i am not entirely sure why (though i am guessing at keeping unemployment figures down, and allowing ample opportunity to try and solicit bribe), Malawian police are extremely enthusiastic with their road blocks. Whilst this is not always so much of an issue when you are in a private car, on buses it generally means long stops where everybody has to get off, and then bags are then checked: Sometimes at random, sometimes thoroughly and sometimes with such a fine tooth comb as to be utterly frustrating. Especially when they refuse to say what they are looking for, and when you had just emptied your bag on to the sand barely 20ins previously at the last road block and the bus hasn't stopped anywhere in the interim. And at both stops you were one of only a very small number to be searched.
Back to why being awake at 2am has anything to do with police; It mean't that when they randomly raided the mostly empty hostel I was in at 3am, I was already awake. They were not quiet, they were not polite. About 8 barged into our room and though all wore assorted uniforms, not one would identify themselves (except, when asked, to say 'I am from immigration': No sh1t, sherlock, that's why your hat and jumper both say immigration on them in large white letters) or say what they were looking for. Suffice to say that passports were gone over in a fine tooth comb, and then my hand luggage and anything that was left out was scrutinised deeply. They looked suspiciously at my bread rolls and jar of peanut butter. They seemed convinced that Tiger Balm was something entirely different, and for the umpteenth time seemed utterly stumped by my Doxycycline. This is not a new phenomenon: At every check, the thing that has baffled them most is my malaria medicine, and most other backpackers have said the same thing. I don't know why Malawian polie are so uniformly stupid, but surely in an area with a very high malaria rate, mzungu's with malaria medicine should not exactly be a novelty to them any more. But from how they deal with it every single s*dding time, you would have thought i was carrying plutonium pills. Or Licorice...
Half an hour later i was left alone. The Japanese girl who was the only other person in the dorm was not so lucky. She works for an NGO who keep her passport. She had with her a notarised copy (all that i required under Malawian law), but that was not enough. The olice needed to see her actual passport. And now. After chucking everything out of her back to check it, they forced her off to the police station, literally shouting at her to hurry up repacking her stuff and not even letting her dress properly. An American from the next room seemed to be having a similar discussion in the hallway and also disappeared, whilst a third person was also heard to be being removed from the premises. As there were only 5guests that I was aware of and at least 3 were removed, I could only count my lucky stars that i was still there.
The Japanese girl came back about 5.30 (without her bag), but i have no idea what happened to the other guys or her bag as I left at 6.30 to find a bus. Malawi has been pretty enjoyable in general, but it is definitely time to move on.