A New Chance


This is only the first part.

A New Chance

1) The Hotel

“You call this the best place on Earth? The paradise you wished you’d never have left?” Ellie sneered at Steve, “If I weren’t so in love with you I’d be on the next plane back home, you know.” He hugged her and gave her a little push toward the suitcase trolleys. “Be a good girl then and get us one of those while I get our bags of the luggage band”, Steve grinned at her bad mood.
Yes, true, it had been a long and tiring flight here to Mzuzu, Malawi with a short stop over at Blantyre; and compared to home it was not the weather they were used to; and not really as comfortable as expected. Not nice and sunny and just the right warmth; no, right now it was stifling hot, damp and noisy in here in the small African airport with all the people waiting for the thunderstorm to stop. It was a wonder the small plane had landed safely anyway. They had first flown from London to Cape Town in South Africa, and then changed to a smaller plane to Blantyre, and there again took an even smaller plane to Mzuzu. And they only had those two bags each taking them as hand luggage on the African flights so they would catch the flights.
The last few days had been chaotic already. It all had started off with him receiving a small notice in the mail last Wednesday. He had been to work as usual, stupid boring office work. He didn’t like his work. If he had the chance once again he’d say no to the offer. Sure, he earned a nice sum of money this way; made it easy for him to live his life with small luxury. And because of this luxury he had met Ellie. She was so beautiful and funny most of the times. Not right now though, he noticed as she stepped up to him with the trolley, stopping his pondering of the past.
“Now get our bags and then let’s check into the hotel fast. I need a shower; a real shower please, not a rain one”, Ellie tried to be cheery. She had had a quick look through the airport glass doors outside. She saw all the rain and puddles and some people jumping around them trying to stay dry. It looked so funny to see that and also see that it was in vain. By the time the man, she had watched closer, enter the airport he was soaking wet; not only from above but also from below as, passing the puddles, the raindrops splashed high up again after hitting the surface of the puddle.
Steve nodded, grabbed their bags slumping them on the trolley: “We’re going to be picked up. The lady in the travel agency told me that she had booked a private chauffeur from the airport to the hotel. She said that to go by public transport or taxi was risky for life. The private shuttle service she hired can be trusted though; her words. Have a look around, Ellie darling, and see if anyone is here that is supposed to drive us.”
But before they were able to spot anyone looking for them the soaking wet man stepped up to them and hugged Steve. “Mr. Miller, friend, nice to see you back here in our lovely country.” He let go of Steve and beamed a grin at him and then at Ellie. “And this is your lovely new Lady. What a beauty she is, and so rosy. Welcome Lady Miller”, he bowed to her, “my name is Mbona; I’m a good friend and teacher of your man here. Ok, let’s get you both to the hotel and checked in. I think you need to have some time to get adjusted to this place first.” Without both of them being able to respond Mbona took the trolley and pushed it toward the doors.
“Wait, Mbona, how do you know I was coming and also had a woman with me?” “Mbona knows”, was all he answered and continued toward the door. Steve and Ellie could only follow him and their luggage. It had stopped raining outside. The air smelled fresh and clean leaving the hot airport hall. The sun glittered in the puddles. Steve took a deep breath, noticing that Ellie intuitively did the same. If he had doubts about bringing her along on this trip they were washed away like dirt by rain. Yes, he couldn’t deny it, she seemed to have a feeling of coming home too like he always had when he had arrived here before.
Mbona circled the puddles and they reached the rusty old pick-up truck parked a few minutes away from the doors. He took the bags and threw them rather hard onto the back of the truck; pushing the empty trolley to the side of the pedestrian walk away from the road. Opening the side door he beckoned Ellie in. “Shouldn’t we return the trolley to the airport?” Ellie asked, hesitating to get into this seemingly close to break-down car.
Steve gave her a soft pat on the shoulder: “Don’t worry about it. Soon a kid will come around and do that and get a little money from the airport personal for returning their trolley. It is nearly a tradition here, and I guess it won’t change. People here see private possessions quite different than we do. You can trust Mbona. He is a good guy. I was just surprised to see him already today. I was going to call him tomorrow. He is the one to take us to the village, you know. It is his home.”
With this he got into the car next to Mbona at the driving wheel and Ellie climbed in too, closing the door, remarking casually: “This car won’t get us far, I fear.” Mbona laughed: “This car will get us much further than you can walk even if you had all the time in the world to make the distance”.
Steve interfered: “Oh Ellie, you still have to learn a lot about this country and its people. I’m glad it is Mbona picking us up and not some other guy. Mbona doesn’t get upset by words like you said as other men here. Please remember, you are the guest and these people have their pride in their possessions and the things they do.” Ellie blushed for a moment and than starred straight ahead thinking and watching the road they were driving on.
She remembered the long monotonous talks from Steve when he had told her about some of his past. About this country, the work he had done here, how everything was so different and in his view better than at where he was now. In the beginning those ramblings were interesting, but after a few weeks she was getting bored. He kept repeating the same things; things she had no relating to. Many of the things he told her she had heard on TV before or read in the newspaper. But she had always dismissed them as pure fantasy trying to curb up the edition sales. To meet a man that had actually seen those things for real was fascinating at first. It made her curious if there was more to it than just bragging at how good he was and how much he had been helping those people he had lived with. She had wondered why he had left at all if it had been so much like paradise to him; but she didn’t dare ask him. She feared he might then just leave her; and she surely didn’t want that to happen. When he had offered her to come along on this trip she excitedly accepted it.