We had a bit of admin that we needed to do so decided the next stop would be the city of Lilongwe, but not before we paid our next set of African school fees.
In Chipata, just before the Zambia/Malawi border the supermarket carpark was filled with money changers. I’d specially looked up the rate earlier to make sure that I didn’t get cheated. At home I’m an actuary, I do maths for a living, numbers are my thing. But apparently I’m not very good at muliplying by 750. The guy had offered me a great rate and I’d decided to get a few dollars exchanged in case we needed some before we got to Lilongwe. He did the sum on his calculator and showed me how many kwatcha I would get. It tied up with the number I had in my head, but with there being so many zeros I’d mistakenly left one off. And I guess it’s a pretty common mistake that there are now people trying to make money off people getting the maths wrong. I handed over my dollars and by the time I realised that I’d made the mistake the money changer was obviously nowhere to be seen. I couldn’t believe I’d gotten it wrong(I’d only studied maths for 5 years at university!) and I was frustrated for the rest of our drive.
Lessons learnt in Zambia:
- Have a carnet
- Get Comesa insurance – all the cops know it and wave you through when they see it
- Don’t invade intersections!
- All but 1 of their cops are really friendly
- Multiply by 750 yourself using your own calculator
- It turned out that with the carnet and Comesa you didn’t actually need to pay for anything at the Malawian border – good thing, because I hadn’t got us much local currency!
- The car in front of you indicates left when it’s safe to overtake and right when it’s not
- Supermarkets and meat is up to SA standards so no need to hoard before – although nobody has checked us for meat yet.
- Anything can fit on the back of a bicycle…anything!