Saturday, March 29, 2014

Roadside Attractions

The majority of our riding day is spent on the African roads. The sights are, in turn, spectacular and banal. From lush foliage to ordinary corn fields, there are hours of passing views and, almost always, people. In Malawi, cyclists share the road with pedestrians, especially school children, and livestock herders. Villages appear randomly where a community has coalesced. 

The signage is often amusing. Shops claim to be supermarkets and they resemble ramshackle huts with a variety of stale biscuits and the standard array of beverages. The concept of one-stop shopping is alive here with local emporia offering everything to the discerning consumer.

The best direct-to-market sites are the roadside vegetable and fruit displays. Farmers bring their produce to the shoulder of the main road and artistically stack the fruit. 

And the local marketers seems to be able of carrying phenomenal loads of their wares. Women are masters of the art of balancing such weight on their heads.

People in villages wait for buses, socialize and watch the world go by. Simultaneously, the businesswomen ply their trade while the idlers hang out and kibbitz. In this village, flying ants were being sold to the bold. I gave them a miss.

And, invariably, there is a toddler who walks around ingratiating himself to the onlookers. This child was outgoing and engaging with anyone. There is no pretense here.