This is how you get to satemwa.
You wake up late and eat a little bit of lunch. Chicken and rice, since jessman knows that chicken is the only thing the uzungus seem to like. Dayo comes by around noon and together you walk along the uneven road, past the gate which is really just a spring loaded barrier with a rope on one end that the guard pulls to lower the bar once you’ve passed.
You walk some more, past a man in a tattered shirt which was once white. He is herding five cows who meander along the road. I am almost certain he does not own these cows.
You stop just outside the entrance of Malamulo, next to the sign with a painting of black Jesus and the 10 commandments. Because Malamulo means commandments.
You’re waiting for a minibus. Multi passenger vans with four rows of seats like the ones on a school bus. They criss cross the roads, picking up passengers at unmarked stops or just along the way. A handwritten side on a piece of cardboard sits on the dash, telling you where the minibus is headed. There is no printed timetable or map. They come when they come.
You follow dayos lead, grateful she is there. The three of you pile in, Matt gets stuck in the back. You bump along the road, picking up more people along the way until suddenly there are 15 of you in a vehicle meant for 11 along with three sacks of sugar cane that burst out of the small trunk and spill along the road. The driver plays tinny African music from his phone at max volume and you stare at the crack exploding like a firework across the windshield. A guy has to jimmy the sliding van door each time he opens it. Everything is rusty, cracked leather seats, and coated in dust. Ten different body smells attack your nose; the guy behind you leans over, elbows resting on your seat, his arm pits catching the cool breeze from the window and almost knocking you out.
You have to get off and change minibuses. You only know this because of dayo. When you get to the minibus depot, five different men rush up to you to get you on their bus while five others try to sell you macadamia nuts, roasted corn on a stick, or water sealed in plastic baggies.
You get on another bus. This time with 17 other people and there are four of you in one row, plus a boy in a school uniform who stands in between you and his mother. His long curled eyelashes blink unhurriedly and he plops macadamia nuts into his mouth, one after another, like he has no cares in the world.
When they drop you off next to the sign by Satemwa, you walk the two miles to Huntingdon house, a private residence turned bed and breakfast. Altogether the trip there takes two hours and costs 1.50.
Entering the grounds of Huntington house you feel like you’re in the English countryside. Birds chirp and wind rustles the leaves. There are no dogs howling or roosters being strangled. Black tea and French press coffee is served with finger sandwiches, pastries, and fancy cookies on a three tier dessert stand. There’s even chocolate cake and clotted cream. A Malawian man serves you outside, where the weather is beautiful and the cholo flies plentiful. A statue of an African butler holds croquet sticks, which a little French boy with blonde curls knocks over and then cries. It is the first place you have been where the uzungus outnumber the locals.
In two days you will have been in Africa for two weeks.
On the way back, Kareen, the young British manager, gives you a lift to the main road in the service truck. You sit in the back and bounce along the road, watching the sun set over acres of tea fields, buttery popcorn yellow melting on the green tea leaves as another day ends. A monkey scampers across the road.
This is Africa.