_MGL0578He was born with Malaria. I didn’t even know that that’s possible, but yes, his Mother had it when she was pregnant so he contracted it and as a result had a pretty miserable early childhood. But he survived. Now Ewen Macpherson is a grey-haired, small built, stooped, very knowledgeable, intelligent man, a “jack of all trades”, father of three sons and grandfather of six grandchildren, softly spoken and very kind and generous. He wants to live when his family farm celebrates its 100th birthday in 2029.

He is now 78.

Cameron, a student of Ron’s form class at St.Lukes is one of his grandchildren. And Cameron’s father is one of Ewen’s sons. Only, that they have migrated to Australia not long ago, but Ewen and his farm are situated in Malawi, about an hour and a bit away from Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city. He has been living here all his life. His other two sons live on the farm, too, one actively involved in running this huge place, the other flying a light aircraft that looks like a giant dragonfly and researching African’s wildlife. He has interesting stories to tell about hunters, poachers, and African wildlife issues in general. He is as passionate about his job as Ewen is about his cattle. Ewen’s wife Jenny, the one we communicated with via email, is not around when we arrive so Ewen is doing his best to make us feel very welcome. He picks us up from the airport and drives ahead of us for over an hour in heavy rain, rain that the farmer is very happy about. Not so much tourists like us, but that’s okay. It’s much more important for his farm where he grows mainly tobacco and maize as well as ground nuts and grass for various herds of cattle and sheep.

It was very nice of Cameron’s family in Australia to organize this contact for us in Malawi, our third country visit during our planned 3 months in Africa.

Upon arrival at the farm, we enter a large, comfortable, brick house with furniture that reminds me of my own childhood from the 60’s with a beautiful garden, surrounded by a huge native forest._MGL0594 The next morning we observe a whole family of velvet monkeys playing, jumping from one big tree to the next and showing their curious little faces through a wild purple flowering bougainvilla hedge adjacent to a rather old fashioned looking swimming pool.

And there are cats. Many. Maybe 4 or 5? With one of them I share a seat on the outdoor area named khonde (said “kondee”) and it takes me about half an hour and a few scratches before I realize that it’s the cat’s seat. IMG_0694So – eventually, I move to a different chair and cat relaxes happily in its spot. All sorted.

Later on that day, the rain stops and Ewen starts his old pick up truck and drives us around the farm. Us, and his two dogs, Bindi and Jacky. Not long before I decide to hop on the back outside to join the dogs. Standing up, and holding on tight, it almost feels like being on safari again, just that I see healthy cattle herds, sheep, the European stork, huge fields of maize and tobacco, sheds with heavy machinery and drying sheds for the tobacco leaves as well as big areas of native and planted forests instead of giraffes and elephants. What a nice change of scenery!

After returning to the farmhouse, we are invited to have drinks on the khonde with Derek, the pilot and his wife plus two daughters and Ewen, followed by a hearty bbq (called a braai) with farm fresh and self produced African sausages and steak. Yummy.

The conversations around drinks and food are very interesting and give us much insight into the past and present life of a white farmer of Scottish descent in the Malawian context.














Zanzibar – voodoo cult, spiritual rituals, sex tourism and other things noted

They were excitedly nervous.

Someone had told them.

It was very foreign to them.

They needed to share it.

The couple that sat at our table when we had our first Mango Lassie in “The Coffee House” were Germans, pleasant people, a few years younger than us, and VERY talkative. Their slight restlessness was palpable, as they were still in a state of disbelief when they shared the newly acquired knowledge with us. Returning from a short trip to a little island, they had heard these stories from their local guide. The stories were so plentiful, that both Ron and I can only remember fragments of it now, some days later.  It was about the fact that the couple, the tourists, weren’t able to visit that island. In fact, had the guide, who originated from there, brought them ashore, he would have been excluded from his family, never to come back. Bad spirits would attack him and his family. Other stories evolved around what the islanders had to do, every day, for example sacrifice certain animals, perform various rituals, to keep the voodoo spirits at bay. Every day! And so on……

Ron and I listen attentively, finding it hard to believe the stories we were hearing, and that all these strange things are still happening today.

My immediate thought:

They just need Jesus. Then they will be set free from all these things that they have to do, all these pressures and rigid demands to live life in a certain way. It reminds me of the time when I read about all the rituals the Jewish priests had to perform to please God in the Old Testament…..Equally incomprehendable to me.


So, Zanzibar is an island with 90% Muslims. You hardly ever see a woman without a headscarf, some plain black, others the opposite: really colourful.

Later on, as we moved “camp” to live in Matemwe on the East Coast for a few days and visited a local school with all Muslim children, we heard other stories. The children have to make sure that they use the correct foot (I think it was the left one) to enter the toilet. If they use the wrong one, a curse will be spoken over them. At these kid’s homes, a chicken has to be slaughtered the same day every week. And the chicken has to look in one particular direction before its death, otherwise the evil spirits will take over the house. And so the stories go on and finish with a murder case in the neighbourhood from our airbnb accommodation, where a white lonely lady was killed in her house, chopped up and thrown into the well in front of her house. They found the killer, but he walked free after a very short sentence.



And then, to top it up: On “our” part of the beach there is a totem pole, scary IMG_0661looking. And the tower in our compound (the one you can rent out for $250 a night) has some big bright red scary eyes at the top that look at us every time we open our door at night. Both items are supposed to scare the bad spirits away!

IMG_0680We never found out whether our host who appears to be a genuine atheist, actually believes that these buildings keep his property safe or whether it is just a “fun” thing he built.

Maybe it was because I was feeling unwell with yet another attack of “traveler’s diarrhea” the first few days we were there, that I felt a little uneasy and was wondering if I could sense something about the other side of the spiritual world in this part of our planet.



I had heard of it.

And seen it before.

In Zanzibar it is openly spoken about and openly visible.

White young and middle aged white girls/ladies openly connect with young, handsome, testosterone radiating black guys. I haven’t seen many the other way round.

We saw them mainly on the northern beaches of the island, in Nungwi, where we ventured out for a little day trip one day, travelling as the locals do, with a dala dala for TzSh 1000 (80 cents). Ghee, you can’t believe how many people they squeeze in these vehicles. I was lucky, I got a seat right on the left side of one row of 5 seats, directly at the window. After a short while, they were at least 7 people sitting in that row, and the same in front and behind. Plus additional passengers standing next to a considerable amount of stacked big plastic buckets and cardboard boxes. The trip took only just under an hour, so one could cope easily.

However, I kept thinking I should have worn a headscarf myself since I was the only female without a head cover and I felt somehow naked, despite my rather wild looking hair, grown out of proportions without a decent cut after an almost 8 week “African” treatment of dust, wind and suspicious smelling shampoo.

The way back from the northern beach was even more adventurous for Ron and I:

Sitting on the open back of a pick up truck with about 10 other local men.

It was bumpy alright, but only just under 8 kilometres, so one could cope easily.



Nelken, Vanille, Zimt – Gewürzinsel Zanzibar

Nelken, Vanille, Zimt – Gewürzinsel  Zanzibar

Schon der Name hat was Magisches an sich, oder?

Vor meinem geistigen Auge bewegen sich Menschen durch enge, verwinkelte Gassen, gekleidet wie Piraten im Film: Pirates of the Caribbean. Es wird gehandelt, gekauft und verkauft, es wird gefeilscht. Männer treffen sich an einem Ort, trinken Chai und debatieren die Weltgeschäfte. Frauen huschen an dir vorbei, tiefverschleiert, manchmal nur ihre Augen sichtbar.

Stone Town, die Altstadt. Es erscheint uns wie eine Mischung aus Griechenland (die engen verwinkelten Gassen), Türkei (der Muezzin, der zum Gebet aufruft und die schwarz gekleideten Frauen), und Portugal (die alten Holzbalkone an den Häusern).

Und – es hat auch etwas von Venedig: der Verfall der Gebäude, der marode Charm.

Viele sagen, es erinnert an Marokko, aber da waren wir noch nicht und können nicht mitreden.

Wir haben uns sofort wohlgefühlt in diesem Gewimmel von Gassen, Marktständen, und Menschen. Diese Vielfalt!



Untergebracht sind wir mittendrin: Im “Coffeehouse”. Später erfahren wir, dass es einer Dänin und einem Schweizer gehört und die Managerin ist auch eine junge Schweizerin, sehr um unser Wohl bemüht und hilfreich mit allen unseren Fragen.

Da musste ich auch mal an unsere Lina denken und könnte mir vorstellen, dass sie auch sowas gut machen könnte und auch gerne machen würde.

Gefrühstückt wurde oben auf der Dachterasse, von der man einen wunderbaren Blick hat auf die alten Fassaden, die hölzernen Terrassen und Balkone und die Kirchtürme und Moscheenspitzen. Und zur Begrüßung trinken wir einen Mango Lassie , der so gut ist, dass wir vom ersten Tag an mindestens einen davon trinken.

Kaffee gibt’s natürlich auch zu kaufen und der Cappuchino schmeckt richtig gut.Und im Zimmer ist Aircondition. Zum ersten Mal in Afrika. Wir schwimmen im Luxus für 2 Tage. Am letzten Tag gönnen wir uns noch einen vom Hotel empfohlenen Führer, der uns viel Informationen gibt, die wir im Reiseführer nicht gefunden haben. Und zum Abschluß noch für jeden eine Massage.

Nach 3 Tagen Stone Town sind wir bereit zum nächsten Abenteuer. Ein Fahrer namens Mohammed, den ich am Tag zuvor kennengelernt hatte, fährt uns für 30 US$ nach Matemwe, im Nordosten der Insel gelegen. Er ist sehr nett und als wir ihm erzählen, dass wir noch etwas einkaufen möchten unterwegs, hält er in jedem kleinen Ort an und besorgt uns Bananen, Ananas, Gurken und Margarine. Und Brot, dass aussieht wie ein kleines Kastenweissbrot und so schmeckt es auch, wir hatten es schon auf dem Markt in Stone Town gesehen.

Nach ca einer Stunde kommen wir in unserer neuen Bleibe an: Utupoa – Cool humanity (kühle Menschlichkeit). Bin mir nicht so sicher, was das eigentlich bedeuten soll. Aber die Unterkunft sieht genauso aus, wie ich sie auf Airbnb ausgesucht hatte. Direkt am Strand, IMG_0655ein Strand mit schneeweißem Puderzuckersand wie auf Fraser Island. Unser geräumiges Zimmer ist im Haupthaus, dass oben ein hohes Strohdach hat und offene Etagen mit hochinteressanten Einrichtungsgegenständen: bunt zusammengewürfelten Relikten aus aller Welt.Neben dem Haupthaus gibt es noch zwei Nachbarhäuser und einen runden IMG_0582“Tower”, den man auch mieten kann.

Die Besitzer dieser (fast paradiesischen) Anlage sind ein britischer pensionierter Pilot und seine kenianische schwarze Frau. Ein paar schwarze Bedienstete sind auch da. Die kochen, halten das Grundstück sauber und sprechen kaum Englisch. Das haben wir schon länger festgestellt, dass hier in Tanzania sehr viel weniger Englisch gesprochen wird.

Die offizielle Sprache ist hier Swaheli. Die Frau ist auch Lehrerin und hat uns die letzten zwei Tage mitgenommen zu einer kleinen privaten Schule in dem benachbarten Dorf, das zwei Inder vor ein paar Jahren gegründet haben. Es war die beste Schule, die wir bisher gesehen haben, und wir (besonders Ronald) wurde auch gleich zum Unterrichten angeheuert und hat natürlich wieder mal Superschaustunden hingelegt. Er ist einfach ein toller Lehrer!

Nun sind wir schon 5 Tage hier an diesem tollen Strand.

Am Samstag geht’s weiter nach Dar es Salaam und dann fliegen wir nach Malawi.

Sind gespannt auf ein neues afrikanisches Land.














Safari Tales – The other side

I feared it.

I fought it.


It could have cost me my marriage.

I had read about it.

I had listened to stories.

I refused to be part of it.

In the end I gave in.

All this started months ago.

In the “planning phase”.

“We will have our own driver and cook” I was told excitedly.

“We will be the only tourists in the car!”

Great. I hate big crowds of tourists. So that suits me fine.

The whole thing was going to cost us a fortune.

7 nights? Are you for real?

That’s too long to watch African animals!

Game drives for 7 days altogether? Early morning drives…. Late afternoon drives….

An elephant is an elephant, right? Don’t they all look the same?

“But there will be different landscapes” I _MGL7389was told. “Lots of photo opportunities. “

Yes, sure.

Admittedly, I love the African wildlife. And I love the beautiful landscapes.

No doubt about that. Especially the giraffes. I LOVE the giraffes. They are my favourites and I will never grow tired of watching them, with their graceful walk, their graceful necks and their calmness. I don’t mind elephants either, to be honest.

Okay, and it can be exciting to watch a pride of lions hunting for a kill. And the poor antelopes who will get attacked.

But camping?

Without a fence?

Wild animals on the campground at night?

No, thank you.

I have always been an anxious person.

And whenever I am anxious, I need to wee. Continually.

That means I need a toilet.

There is a toilet on the campground, no worries.

But there is no electricity.

In fact, there is nobody else except the driver, the cook and Ron and I.

And the bat in the cold shower.

And the hyenas.

And the jackals.

No worries.

And it is pitch black. Not even the moon is around. It might be as frightened as I am.

“Just make sure you don’t leave the tent at night”, I am told.

Just the thought of that advice makes my tummy rumble. I need to go.

So, the first three nights we are the only ones on the campground. Except the hyenas.

But the game drives are nice. We see many animals and there are great photo opportunities.

And the chef cooks good food. Just that I can’t eat it, because my tummy is rejecting it.

Never mind.

Ngorongoro Crater after Serengeti.

Beautiful campground. Many people. Rain. Pit latrine as toilet. Oh well.

Tarangiri NP for the last two nights. I am counting down.

Lots of elephants. And more lions. Even on the campground. Richard, our driver, points out the tracks to us in the early morning hours.

Never mind. We had our last night.

We are safe!



What an experience! Not to be missed!





















Safari Tales

Safari Tales


We just missed it.


First time in Ngorongoro Crater where we witnessed a jackal having a feast on a fresh placenta, the afterbirth of a newborn gnu, pulling it apart with its teeth. Didn’t look very appetizing to us, mind you.

Close by mother gnu was busily attending her newborn, which could just manage to stand on its wobbly sticklike legs. A few minutes later, there were on the run, side by side, away, away from the birthplace where the jackal had left the afterbirth but was still hanging around, watching, waiting, hoping for an easy prey. Although a bit shaky and unstable, baby gnu was able to follow mum  with his skinny little legs, not falling over once.

They escaped.

I was relieved.

How fragile life is.

And how strong the will to survive.


The other event took place in Taringiri NP, the elephant heaven.

On every game drive we saw these amazing enormous creatures, often in big herds, and sometimes VERY close (almost too close for my liking, I could have patted them from the car if I didn’t know better). At one occasion,  our driver pointed out two elephants who were standing close together. “There is a little one”, he said, and sure enough, in amongst eight big, heavy elephant legs  there was this tiny freshly born baby, just fitting underneath mom’s belly. I held my breath, fearing that these feet would stomp on it any minute. But no, ever so gently, the big legs walked around the newborn, in slow motion, to protect, to care for, to hide this little cutest baby elephant, this miracle.

I could have watched it for hours.

How caring life is.

And how strong the will to protect your young.

Many lessons can be learned from nature.