Blantyre, Malawi was founded in 1876 through missionaries from Church of Scotland. The name Blantyre is actually the Scottish city where David Livingstone was born. Today, Blantyre is the second largest city in Malawi with between 700,000-1 million people living here. Here on the map you can see my location:
I googled what a “yomp” is, and Wikipedia/urban dictionary says “walk while heavily laden or over difficult terrain.” I think this is a sober and accurate descriptor of our journey.
We began our climb at the foothills, crossing through the main village of Manja-Soche area and through the community where people were buying tomatoes and charcoal, hanging clothes out to dry, and living their Sunday morning lives. People would wave and greet us “hello” and “mwadzuka bwanji” or good morning. We crossed over bridges made of sticks and crossed paths with others heading to church or up the mountain to pray.
As we made our way toward the summit, we ran into a group of children ages ~8-11. They were led by the oldest boy, Dalitso, or “Blessings,” a common name in Chichewa. Insisting upon accompanying us up the mountain, the children ran between me and Andrew. Dalitso remained behind me the whole time, sorrowfully remarking: “sorry, sorry,” every time he watched me fall or slip or get splinters from thorn. What a sweet blessing he was indeed.
We saw plenty of interesting plants and shrubbery, and got covered in stickers and thorny plants. True to the name of dry season, the ground was covered in dirt that we kicked up into a veil of aerosol as we went along slipping and sliding on the path covered by yellow, dry grass.
It was an uphill climb of ~1500 m. The trail was not blazed the entire time, and sometimes we found ourselves climbing rocks and using all 4 limbs for balance.
The children were quite limber and could climb without issues. If we stopped to turn to look behind us, we would see the other mountains around Blantyre, standing majestically like guardians of the city.
When we finally reached the top, we could see the whole city and beyond. We savored the view, and the boys let me take a picture of them sitting on the rock. This adventure reminded me a lot of the time I did a similar climb up a hill in a community in Uganda.