‘’The Warm Heart of Africa’’ is keeping us quite busy. Besides eight working days a week, we also had to find a house. Not that we no longer enjoyed the camping life, although a bit unpractical -especially with the dogs- but if you need to wear a shirt that looks like it has been ironed every day to work, a rooftop tent is no option. Luckily our pet-friendly campsite had some chalets as well, so we rented one with a small fenced-off garden. A lovely place where we easily could’ve lived for months, if it wasn’t for the long drive to work. And as managers we have to be able to get to the lodge quickly in case of an emergency, which always happens when you’re finally at home for about ten minutes. So we had to start looking for another place, which wouldn’t have been an issue with a higher budget and / or no dogs. Oh well, we like a challenge…
Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, we relatively soon found an estate agent who would show us as many houses as we wanted for only 10 US Dollar a month. We explained what we were looking for and made an appointment for the next day. He asked us to meet on the street corner next to the Vice President’s house, so we could go to different places from there. He was right when he told us that everyone in Lilongwe knows where the Vice President stays, so it was easy to find. However, when driving through the neighbourhood with huge villas, we wondered if he understood what budget we had. And when we found him, we wondered if he understood that we needed a real estate agent… Missing teeth, worn-out shoes and holes in his shirt. At least he didn’t smell, because he jumped in our car to drive together. Obviously, we were relieved too soon, as we were asked to stop a little further to also pick up his colleague. He looked a lot more professional, but even with all the windows open we couldn’t stand the smell. In South Africa we would’ve never trusted this situation, but Malawi is one of the safest countries around, so we allowed these two strangers to guide us through Lilongwe.
What a waste of time! The one ‘’house’’ fell apart even more than the other and we even had a look at a construction site where they said they would finish if we could just pay six months’ rent in advance now. Funny guys…Quickly we phoned another real estate agent, who immediately showed us two houses that had all walls and a roof and were close to work, within the budget and with a closed off garden for the dogs. The first was instantly available, yet we opted for the second. That house is a bit older, the garden less (or not at all) maintained and we had to wait an extra month due to a current tenant, but the neighbourhood is quieter and from here we can get to the lodges within ten minutes.
Of course we couldn’t move in on the agreed date and when the landlord didn’t answer his phone for several days, we started worrying. Such a relief when we finally saw a van with lots of boxes outside the house! It took that tenant three days to get all his belongings out, then a leaking tab had to be fixed and there was some paint work. We were promised it would only take one day, so we counted on three. By now we found out that there were termites in the woodwork, so that had to be replaced. The kitchen was also badly affected and the geyser had to be replaced. Not to mention the huge mess the previous tenant left behind everywhere. Should we add ‘cleaning after other people’ as a skill to our CV’s?
We eventually moved in without a kitchen or geyser. We’re getting most of our meals at the lodge anyway and it was hot enough to shower with cold water. A brand-new second-hand geyser has been installed this week, with Hessel sorting out the leaks. We’re tired of these so-called handymen now and asked Howard and his cousin to make a plan for the kitchen soon. At least the landlord agreed to deduct the costs from next month’s rent.
Living here is great though. It’s tranquil and we now save a lot of traveling time and diesel. The dogs are super happy in the large garden and some beautiful green trees provide a home for some nice birds, including the stunning Schalow’s Turaco and Burchell’s Coucal! Hessel created time to start a little garden with some pumpkins and watermelons and Dilo finally found cheap bookshelves to unpack some of our things, which is a great way to feel more at home. It’s often the little things that matter most!