Mobbed

Day 299, Monday 29 October 2012 – Kande Beach, Malawi

Wow, a new record – three good sleeps in a row, and I didn’t even need to get up before seven either, fantastic. After breakfast we had a tour of the local village Mbamba led by one of the villagers Samuel l. Jackson. The local people are from the Tonga tribe and are farmers and fishermen, though their income is supplemented by tours and selling local crafts. The people involved in tourism take on western names so it is easy for us to remember. Like Zambia, the local people learn some English at school and take whatever opportunity they can to learn English from westerners.

As we were cleaning up the breakfast dishes, Samuel L. And his brother arrived with the freshly slaughtered pig that was going to be spit roasted over the day for the nights dinner.

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We met at the gate of the camp, as I approached I could see the feet of the local hawkers waiting outside, I snuck my camera out of my bag to get a shot before the gate opened or before any of the rest of the group saw what I was doing and changed the dynamic. I wanted to get the whole gate in, but was unable to. I was fairly happy with this though.

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The visit was interesting; it was split into two parts – a one hour village walk followed by a walk up to the school and clinic for us hardier types.

As soon as we were out of the gate we were mobbed by the hawkers, we were nicely split up and had two hawkers each, mine were Sisco and Gift. They were 19 and 18 respectively and great guys, Gift especially had fantastic English and over the couple of hours we were together we discussed a number of topics, from politics, through HIV/AIDS to football and village life. I assume they have a prescribed script they start with, though I was pleasantly surprised at how well informed they were. Of course the whole thing was designed to make me spend more money !

We started the walk with a look at a couple of houses, brick making and the water pump that was funded by the Canadians. Samuel L. and the chicken house, the chickens walk up the ladder at night where it is safe from predators.

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It was then time to visit the village kindergarten. The kindy is funded by the village and all pre-school children are encouraged to attend. There are about thirty children there, though impossible to count. We arrived just on morning tea and after a couple of minutes of shyness from the kids it was all on as we were flooded with children wanting their photo taken. It was hilarious as they piled in and climbed over each other, it was a lot of fun.

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Just as we were leaving the kids sang a few songs and even did a form of the Kamate haka which was really funny. Apparently there was a Kiwi volunteer at the local school a few years back.

The group split into two after the kindy and I went with the group that walked another couple of kilometres to the local school. The school has about 1000 students and 10 teachers, this class has 160 pupils and they all sit on hard concrete floors.

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We were given a talk by the head teachers, which was basically a plea for donations, though we had stories that the money does not necessarily go to the school so were hesitant to give cash. The meeting was in the library and there were a few books – a lot of donated paper backs that were totally unsuitable for children, the rest of the books looked dusty and unused – I was disappointed to be honest.

We visited the clinic next, a similar situation, we were shown to a room that really did look rarely used and given a plea for donations. I will say it must be tough to run a clinic here, there are a lot of people with a lot of illnesses and only a couple of nurses, the doctor comes by once a month.

After the clinic we walked back through the town and back to the campsite where we were given an opportunity to invest in the local community and buy some art works. I paid way over the top for four small paintings, but I liked them and they will go with some of the pictures I bought in Asia. I also traded two pairs of used socks for a bracelet Sisco was wearing – hopefully I wont lose this one.

The rest of the day was spent mooching, doing laundry, writing and photographing. IMG 4815

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A few of us had a play with photos as the moon rose over the lake shore and then it was dinner time.

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After dinner Leonie, Brett and I had a few wines by the chalet overlooking the lake and it was time for sleep at 10:30.

A road side day

Day 298, Sunday 28 October 2012 – Kande Beach, Malawi

I had another great sleep, that is two in a row, it cannot last. It was of course ruined by the need to be up at 5:00 to continue yesterdays attempt to make Lake Malawi. We are getting good at early mornings now and everything was cuffed and stuffed and we were all on the truck well before the 6:00 am departure.

We reached the Zambia/Malawi border at 6:45, it was a long process again as there was only one person working in immigration in each country. We got held up for an hour on the Malawi side waiting for the insurance paperwork for the truck. It was a Sunday so nothing was happening fast, TIA – this is Africa.

We were taking a new route to Kande Beach on Lake Malawi, Will had been talking to some Malawians at Wildlife Camp and they suggested a route that avoided a massive dogleg through the town of LLongwe. The new route was on a very good road and I knocked off a couple of emails on the phone in the (ultimately futile) hope of having wifi at Kande Beach. P1020059

We stopped for a roadside lunch and I mooched around and I wandered off and took a couple of photos. I need to do spend some time doing some stuff on my own I think, it has been too long since I had some decent solo time. Much as I moaned about it in the past I think I have gotten used to being able to spend time by myself. I missed myself !

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We were about an hour and a half from the camp site when we stopped for lunch at mid-day, however the afternoon really did turn to custard for a couple of hours. About an hour after lunch I was dozing away in the truck when there was a massive bang from under my seat and the sound of a tyre thrashing itself to death on the underside of the truck – rear tyre blow out! Will took a very slow approach to pulling the truck over to the side of the road and we stopped safely. He is a very safe and capable driver, I have massive respect for his abilities.

The tyre blow attracted a massive amount of local attention, especially from the kids – I counted 41 of them at the end, they were very friendly and posed for loads of photos for the strange white folk standing on the road side. I snapped a couple but helped out where I could with the tyre change. The kids love pulling marshall arts poses.

We stole some bricks from this deserted building to use for chocks.

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The tyre was really shredded and did a bit of damage to the rear mud guard and a storage cage behind it, the tap from the drinking water tank was completely missing.

It took three quarters of an hour to change the tyre as well as bash the guard out and get back on the road.

We were soon back on the road and well down the sandy, bumpy road to the lake side when we had to take a long way around an ambulance parked in the middle of the road, as we were negotiating a ninety degree bend the front tyre dropped into a small ditch in the sand and we were stuck!

This of course attracted lots of local attention again and we had loads more kids and quite a few adults watching the action. The Malawians were lovely, very friendly and chatty, very keen to practice their already good English and learn about where we are from.

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The taller girl took a shine to Leonie and wanted a photo of just the two of them, the smaller child had other ideas.

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Once out of the sand we were a further ten minutes to our campsite for the next two nights at Kande Beach on Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi is the second biggest lake in Africa – after Lake Victoria, and the ninth biggest in the world. It was windy when we arrived so the lake was quite choppy, it didn’t stop me from getting straight into my swimmers and jumping in the lake, it was nice to get the dirt and dust off from changing the tyre. The lake temperature is around 27 c all year round, so it was like jumping into a warm bath.

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The rest of the afternoon was spent lounging about – in my case drinking beer either by the lake or in my room with my computer until dinner time, we had a prepared dinner in the campground cafe for a bit of variety from the normal camp dinner. I had a vege pizza, I loved it – very similar to how I make pizza at home – maybe without the peas though ! Ebron (our cook) and I left the dinner as soon as we finished eating to go and watch Chelsea v Manchester United in the bar. It was a noisy crowd and good fun watching some decent football.

The evening and night was then spent on the lake side drinking G and T’s with Leonie, Ewa and Simon (the young couple) until we went down to the beach for a while and someone took my jandals from where I left them in the bar. Apart from that, it was a good night – the latest I have stayed up since the trip started – 12:30 am – wahoo, finally made it past midnight.