Once we finally arrive in the villages of the Livingstone Mountains, we depend upon a driver to get us from point A to point B. This is no easy task for several reasons:
- The roads are VERY bad
- The cost of gasoline is $10/gallon (transportation is one of our biggest expenses)
- I use the term “roads” very loosely…paths with potholes that can swallow a car is more accurate
- Our accommodations are located a few miles from where our interpreter and manager live
- The Villages are in the MOUNTAINS, meaning rough terrain and very odd angles
- The average speed of travel is 12 mph
- Did I mention the roads…?
Our driver this trip was Msifu (pronounced MmmmSEE-foo). He turned out to be quite a character. Msifu has several jobs – driver, potato farmer, guest house restaurant & bar. English is spoken only rarely, yet he greeted us each morning with “Good Morning!” and a glimmering smile and dancing eyes and then he went into the English slang…”whasss up…keep it cool…whass happening?” You can’t really tell by this pic that we are standing in a HUGE pothole on this main road. But to put it into perspective, the level of the car in the background is near our head…whew!
We learned that Msifu isn’t exactly a morning person (guest house bar keeps him up at night). While we had a set schedule to meet with villages each day, we were often on “African Time”. I am grateful for the patience showed by those we were meeting with.
One day he asked if I wanted to drive his car. I said sure! Again, we could only travel 12 mph, so the only worry I had was hoping I wouldn’t take out his muffler or something worse from under his car.
Msifu was also a hit with many of the children in town. They were full of smiles when Msifu was around. He has that “pied piper” effect on everyone. He was charming, funny, competent and a blessing to all of us on this trip.