Mbeya

 

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// Nikon D7200 | -8,8852 : 33,31994 | alt. 1380m
Back again on this terrible dirt road below Mushroom farm, but this time way slower, the noise from the front axle is painful to hear, and I’m just afraid of losing my front wheel….
Back on the highway, we made a stop at Floja campsite before the border. Getting cash was such a problem in Malawi I ended up getting too much, and my fuel tank is already full. Fortunately, the friendly owners of the campsite agreed to give me some us dollars for my kwachas, exactly what I need to pay for my visa for Tanzania.

Next day, sunday, was time to cross the border. We’ve been told it’s better on sundays since there is no truck at the border (and this is the only land border between the 2 countries). Malawian side was a bit messy but went pretty smoothly. Stamp out, same for the carnet, one bridge to cross and here is the Tanzanian border. One piece of paper to fill, 50usd to pay, and we get our Tanzanian visas in 5min. Now we have to deal with the vehicles and it’s a bit more complicated. You have to pay road tax, price is given in usd, but you have to pay in shillings ! Since it’s sunday, no bank is open, and we have to walk across the border (no passport check !) to find a small currency exchange place, doing the official payment. Almost no one speaks english here, so it’s a good time to practice your swahili (you know, those memories of the Lion king :D).
In the end, not a complicated process, and we found Elly at the border, the south Korean girl we met before in Nhkata bay. Since she’s also going to Mbeya, she went aboard for a small stretch of road. This small drive was beautiful, with luxurious forest everywhere, and it’s sad to realize Malawi used to be like this at some point. At least in Tanzania, they are more strict about their forests, and they take care of them.

After half an hour looking for a place to camp for Elly, we proposed her to camp with us at the Ulengule coffee lodge out of town. A bit on the pricey side, but a beautiful location with very good kitchen., not to mention the big swimming pool. Despite the altitude (1600m !), it’s still extremely hot during the day !

Mbeya is for me the only chance to repair the van, and the only reason we stay here. Next option would be Dar es Salaam, 1100kms away….. my front end may not last that long. Luckily, I found a very big workshop working on any brand, including Mitsubishi, that could be the right place !
A meticulous inspection revealed 2 loose front wheels, about 10 important nuts damaged or missing in the front end, one damaged ball joint on the steering, heavily damaged skid plate below the steering, and loose shock absorbers. African roads ! All the ball joints took a very bad hit, they just need a little bit of love, and grease, tons of it, and a bit of welding to keep everything in place :p
It’s 40°c outside, no shade, working on concrete, and I’m not the only one to suffer.
I’m joining the team supervised by Christophe, and I took time to talk with him about… money. I have no idea how much it’s gonna cost at this point, but it’s been a full day of repair.
Since they don’t have mitsubishi parts, it’s just a fix, I will have to replace a few elements at some points. At least they managed to weld or to machine what had to be fixed.
In the end, Christophe gave me a very sweet bill for all these repairs, and mister Fox can now return on dirt roads.
That being said, I will have to be more careful…
We have some extra time to plan our route, get fresh stuff from the local market, and here we go Tanzania !

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