Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Ruth Chamangwana
Visits to the hospital, market, recreational sites, and fellow Volunteer communities always subject Volunteers to various modes of transport. These modes of transport often determine whether one will enjoy his/her ride or loathe it. Traveling to and from my community will sometimes leave you in awe. Most times the trips I make to and from my community have me yearning for my bed, even if it’s mid-day. Let me take you through the 4 most common modes of transport out of my community that will have you thrilled and exhausted at the same time.
Damper (bicycle taxis). These are popularly known as “kabaza” or “damper” in some parts of Malawi. I have fallen in love with this mode of transport so much that I take these taxis when I am making long trips in my community, and when I go for shopping in town. A slight feeling of exhaustion has me signaling a damper person to come and pick me up, so I no longer have to walk. And let me tell you, my damper riding skills are phenomenal.
2) Vehicle Shared-Taxis. These are a form of public transport that use the ordinary cars that are found in all parts of the country. However, it seems normal is boring for my community, and we always have to spice it a bit. Let me tell you how. A normal 5-seater vehicle seats 9 people in one trip (4 in front and 5 at the back). This is so the driver can make as much money as possible. Word of advice- sit in the back if you want to enjoy the ride!
3) Minibus. Another popular mode of transportation found everywhere in the country. My community decided not to tamper with the boarding schematics of the minibus and the rides are usually smooth just like everywhere else.
4) Illalla. This is the largest ship that sails through Lake Malawi from districts such as Likoma Island, Nkhatabay, Salima, to Mangochi. The ship ferries goods and people to all these places and I am yet to board it. The lake is also home to smaller boats that use petrol or diesel engines and some canoes that ferry people across the lake. Boat engines are so thrilling but sailing on the Illalla will be absolutely amazing.
One common trait that the operators of all these modes of transportation have, is that they are so polite and kind to their customers. I have learnt to reciprocate this courtesy, because in life, everyone has a purpose to serve. These people take our lives into their hands and they ensure that we travel safely. So, the least that we can do is smile and have a meaningful and funny conversation with them.