A Trip to Mzuzu and
a Visit to Mzoozoozoo
Last week was quiet in terms of social media and contact with home because I took my first trip to the field, a 5 hour bus ride north to Mzuzu (pronounced just as it reads).
We were heading north to attend some Group Savings and Loan Association training which we would learn the next day would be facilitated in the local language. The MUSCCO Chapter 3 office manager was at the bus station to meet us and he got us settled in a pretty comfortable hotel for the night. After the training which took place about 2 hours away from Mzuzu, we had 2 full nights and one full afternoon to ‘explore’ the capital of the north.
While I appreciate the work MUSCCO is doing to help the Savings and Credit Co-operatives conduct training, this post isn’t going to be about work, it’s going to be about my time in Mzuzu and a few of the people I met and places I visited.
First Stop – Coffee!!
Rumours were flying that Mzuzu has the best coffee in the country and since I had yet to find something of the sorts I was beyond excited, this was Christmas for me. Ezekiel, our MUSCCO rep, dropped us off at the Coffee Den which gets its beans from co-operative farmers around Malawi. I was thrilled to support ethical coffee but when I got my first cup… no words can describe the joy – not seeing your beautiful baby for the first time, not getting engaged to the love of your life… this coffee and me… we were… on fire with passion. It was a beautiful thing. It really could be the highlight so far and it’s heart breaking that I haven’t experienced anything like it since last Thursday.
While at the Mzuzu Coffee Den, a bunch of local artists and musicians approached my table and made great conversation, I was starting to understand why Malawi is known as the warm-heart of Africa. Two guys in particular, I will never forget: Manyana and Peter.
Peter, a painter and jewelry maker covered our table with his paintings, bracelets, and Rasta earings. He was a great conversationalist and told us tales of teaching art skills to people in his community. I loved his work and purchased a canvas painting of two African women carrying babies on their backs and balancing water buckets on their heads, I also bought a tan and black bracelet made from baobob tree. His friend Manyana came over to help me tie the bracelet on and that’s when I noticed his necklace, a piece of wood carved and stained in the shape of the African continent. I commented on it and he also pulled out a handful of necklaces from his pocket. The boys were great fun and after supporting both of them it was time to head back to the office.
The day finished shortly after the Coffee Den, and Kelly and I decided we would head to Mzoozoozoo a backpackers lodge with an eclectic and unusual atmosphere for dinner and a few drinks. After tracking down a reasonable taxi driver (45 minutes later…) we were on our way.
Evening Enjoyment – Mzoozoozoo!!
As soon as we pulled off the dusty road and the headlights lit up the front porch, I was once again elated. Yeeeaaaa buddy! This was my kind of place. There were three old dudes who made my dad’s mustache look amateur, smoking cigars and shootin’ the shit. We said hello and headed inside where I met Charlie the bartender, a large Malawian man with a hefty laugh. He poured me a double Malawi Gin and Sprite and I found a nook with handcrafted chairs and a bench to settle in at.
There were elephant foot prints on the ceiling and the place was covered with caricature sketches, comments from past travelers and so much more, everywhere you looked there was something new to see. The power spontaneously went out as it sometimes does here and Charlie the bartender brought me a candle holder (Malawi Gin bottle) and a long candle stick. Before long my friend Peter from earlier randomly stumbled in, drunk as a skunk.
Kelly and I had hilarious conversations with Peter and challenged his intoxicated state with questions on Malawian culture and the perceptions of Mzungus. We were also joined by an English school teacher here on practicum from the UK who gave us tips on traveling by mini-bus and fighting malaria. Later in the evening we joined Josse, who came to Malawi 12 years ago and never left, and Jeff who was on his 4th trip to the country, banker for Barclay’s by day, DJ and concert stage manager by night.
Long story short… epic people both local and ex-pat. I think Mzuzu is my favourite place so for. After a few Malawi gins we called our taxi as we were catching the bus back to Lilongwe at 6:00am the next day.