We did not spend much time at Mwatayachanga.Â We drove to Majete to introspect. As we approached the facility we heard the Shire River thundering down.Â Jean-Philippe directed that we go there and see the waterfall. Alfonsina Nyanthepa advised against the idea arguing that was a restricted hydroelectricity production area.
Jean-Philippe insisted that we go ahead. So, I drove on up to the gate where a guard, armed with an M16 machine gun, stopped us and motioned that we reverse. I engaged the reverse gear.Â But Jean-Philippe held my hand and whispered that I idle the vehicle. He wound down his window and beckoned the guard. The guard obliged. Jean-Philippe pulled out his arm, hand-clenched, and warmly â€œgreetedâ€ the guard.
In the din of the rolling waters and idling of the vehicle engine, I could not follow what the guard and Jean-Philippe were discussing. Then the armed guard, smiling, went round the back of the car and came to my window.
â€œThis is a restricted security area. Nobody is allowed to enter these premises without prior written permission from headquarters,â€ the guard said, feigning a threat.
I did not answer.
We left the vehicle there and followed the guard. Barely five minutes later, Jean-Philippe asked that we get back to the vehicle and drive to Majete.
We arrived at dusk. There a young-looking guard, armed with a hunting rifle, took us to the reception where a smiling young man welcomed us and briefed us about his tourist facility. He told went through what he expected us to see, hear, eat and drink while at Majete.
Jean-Philippe booked two tents.Â The receptionist asked the young-looking armed guard to take us to the tents. He showed me mine. As I examined the tent, Jean-Philippe, Alfonsina and the guard left.Â Jean-Philippe called a minute or so later advising me to go to the bar for a drink because he needed time to change.
Alfonsina and Jean-Philippe found me at the bar thirty minutes later. I had already taken four tots of Amaulula on the rocks. Jean-Philippe and Alfonsina asked for their drinks. We were there for two hours. Jean-Philippe asked for the bill. The barman passed a bowl with a machine print-out. Jean-Philippe signed and we left the bar.
The following morning we woke up late. We went to the reception.Â Jean-Philippe asked for the bill. He checked in his pockets. He had no money. He asked the receptionist where the nearest branch of Nationalist Bank of Malawi or the Malawian Standards Bank was so he could withdraw money against his card.
â€œThe only bank at Chikhwawa is the Malawi Savers Bank. Otherwise, you have to go to Nchalo or Blantyre,â€ the receptionist said.
â€œHow far is Nchalo?â€
â€œNot sure. Twenty to thirty kilometres?â€
Jean-Philippe shook his head before asking: â€œIs Malawi ready to serve tourists?Â Ask your banks to plant autoteller machines in tourist centres like here.â€
â€œBut we accept international major currencies, â€œthe receptionist said.
â€œIn this country, it is illegal to charge goods and services in foreign currency. Did you know that?â€