Before crossing the border to Malawi I thought it was a good idea to stop by Matema. A tiny village in the middle of nowhere towards the Malawian border. There is literally one road and is located nearby this phenomenal mountains lying on Lake Malawi. I would consider this village a wonder of the world. The view is breathtaking and people are very peaceful and respectful. Far away on the lake you can see clearly this massive mountains that slowly disappears inside the lake. The lake looks like an ocean. I arrived in Matema around 7pm after a very challenging journey. I was in Mbeya and went to Nema station as I knew that minibus to Matema would leave from this station. Before getting to this place I walked for hours in the hope to find some money to exchange into Kwacha. After changing about 4 banks I gave up and decided I would try at the border. I was just hoping that I would not get a burden. When I got to the Nema station I was overwhelmed by the people who were offering the best minibus to get to Matema. I gave up on one guy as he was so insisting that I had to give it a shot. He was literally drugging me to his bus. Well it wasn’t the best idea. This bus was overloaded of things and they were just keeping putting more and more. It was exhausting just to look at them overloading this bus. There were sacks of rice, fruits, vegetables, and any sort of goods. Also matrasses, furniture, an entire bathroom to build too. When are we actually going to leave?, 1 hour, 2 hours, maybe never. So after 3 hours of waiting we finally left. Now I don’t get anymore upset or worried or uncomfortable I just learnt to wonder. The adventure was just beginning.
We were finally driving along the road that would bring me to Matema. The bus was shaking not just for the shitty engine but overall for the amount of things it was carrying. A dangerous rope arrangement on the roof. I didn’t have much choice as always. After 7 hours (instead of two) of a messy and smelly trip (to say the least) I arrived in this wonderful little village: Matema. It is 157km from Mbeya and it is located in the south west of Tanzania and at the very border with Malawi. When I got in the village was everything completely dark. I was a little worried but all the locals ensured me that it was safe to walk to the lodge. It was 7 pm and I could see something just with my head light.
I was planning to camp but unfortunately the weather didn’t favor my wishes. Last time I was camping with a wet weather my knee was hurting very bad. So I had to take the available room. It was quite expensive but didn’t have much of a choice.
I asked the lady if she knew anybody who could bring me up to the mountain and eventually to the waterfall too. She called a guide right away and asked if we could meet. After speaking with Nora we agreed to meet at 6.30 am to hike the mountain and to go to the waterfall. Next day I woke up and the rain was very bad. So I thought I agreed with the guide that we would not hike if it would be raining. Also my period finally arrived so I could not really go for a hike. I told Nora we would go to the waterfall. It was not easy to reach the waterfall. Everything was overflooded because of the rain. The water was embracing all nature shapes, the grace of trees, rocks, plants and water that was flowing eternally. A spectacular performance of mother nature. I was its audience. A rare privilege of which I was very blessed to see. Usually when is dry the path to reach the waterfall is quite clear and easy to walk in. During the rainy season can be very tricky to get to this ginormous waterfall. Crossing rivers, scrambling rocks, rope climbing and it was all for me. This time just for myself. The nature was all for me.
I managed to leave Matema a few days later as I really didn’t feel well. I took a minibus from Matema to Kyela. I didn’t exactly know how to get to the border to Malawi so I started to ask around. A guy brought me to a minibus that would take me right at the border. When I got to the minibus the driver asked me: ‘Are you travelling alone?’ ‘Yes but I am going to meet up with my husband in Malawi’. ‘Oh, you have a husband…’ ‘Yes!’. I said very convinced. ‘It’s dangerous for a lady to travel alone…’ he said worried. ‘Well, have you ever travelled?’ ‘No…’ . ‘So how do you know is dangerous?, I asked interested. He smiled at me and wish me good luck for the trip. I waited about 20 mins for the minibus to leave. In about 30 mins we were at the border. There were two women in the minivan who asked me if I was going to cross the border and that they could bring me there. They literally took me under their wings and brought me to the border safe from vendors.
I had just Tanzanian Sh with me so I asked to the officer if he knew anyone to help with money exchange. After a while he called me up, gave me back the passport and introduce me a guy. We exchange the money on an amazing rate. Same thing happened in the border with Mozambique. So the myth that at the border they have really shitty rate exchange is not true. It’s the bank who has it!. Meanwhile a guy came to me asking if I needed any help with a sim card. He seemed genuine so I decided to follow him. After sorting out the phone he brought me to a minibus heading to Karonga!
My fourth border in Africa and I was the happiest person ever!
“Not all those who wander are lost”.
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring