Day 37 –
L: Happy Birthday, Linda!!
And we are off again…….The wind was really bad and got worse last night so I said to Steve that Monkey Bay being south by 180kms on the lake would probably be worse and besides, aren’t we trying to get north…
Steve has been feeling a bit tired the last few days so we decided to take a slow drive up the west side of Lake Malawi. So we set off back through the bustling little settlement of Salima with their investment company called “God Knows” and a mosque, Seventh Day Adventists as well as Catholics and even Jehovah Witness Hall. You can buy cooked meat, dried fish, hanging cow’s legs (raw) or just about anything you desire…….
And we keep on dodging the bicycles and the huge trucks that hog the last remaining piece of tar and force you off the crumbling edge of the tarmac, that once was.
We had no cars or trucks going in the same direction as us, but a lot of on-coming trucks and at one stage, every 20 or so kilometers, we reach one of the single-lane bridges with the sign saying 15 ton weight limit. Yikes, at under 3 tons, those bridges creek and complain as we gingerly inch forward. We dare not stay around to see the big, definitely, over 15 ton trucks negotiate the bridges. And when you see all the local houses with good brickwork, but really bad roofs, you cannot help to be afraid thinking that these same people maintain the bridges.
The people in Malawi seem to be much less suspicious of strangers and all wave and smile, quite the opposite to Zambia where they look right through you. I was starting to think that raising your arm in a greeting was an insult to them.
S: So with the Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve on our left, we traveled through the fairly dense sugar cane and brush until we got to the Pottery Shop, Curio and Coffee Shop. Even though we are going really far with not much space for curios, I could not resist buying a little painted pot and photographing the quaint little bathroom and amazingly intricate hand-painted tiled tables.
I ordered a coffee with a toasted “sandwitch” and had a whole little pottery tea-set. Lesley was brave and ordered an iced coffee (huge) and had the local fish. L: It came as 5 or 6 strips of fish fillets in very fine bread crumbs. It tasted a lot like pilchards, but a whiter flesh. And a load of chips with a pickled tomato and red onion salad.
S: Is it a bird, is it a plane…….? It’s two huge African Fish Eagles flying directly above us as we were getting up from the table. Wow, what a display. I missed them when I had the camera, but as soon as Lesley went looking she was fortunate to get a couple of good shots. It made her day, she was in her element and when I came back from paying for lunch, there she was following them on the beach. L: Lucky me – they are awesome! These ones seem to be even bigger than at home, in Cape Town. You can see the top white chest from across a river as they sun themselves on the river banks.
We are amazed at the Malawian prices at 37 Malawian Kwacha to our Rand so things are in our favour for our brief time in Malawi. Did we mention that it cost only R81 for the two of us for the night at Steps campsite?
We drove a bit further covering only 205 kms in about 4 hours and pulled in to Ngala Beach Lodge just past Dwangwa, near Unaka Lagoon on Lake Malawi.
S: This is an up-market beach lodge with a nicely grassed and treed camping place in front of it which borders on the “beach” on the shores of the lake. We are the only campers here and had our choice of spots. We chose to hide behind a bamboo and tree wind-break even though the wind had dropped quite a bit since we left Steps this morning.
The setting is beautiful, but the ablutions are rather old and neglected even though a cup of coffee costs USD2,5 (which is nearly R30) L: Luckily we never ordered that. The camping is cheap though at USD8 per person per night and our electricity point is a really long extension lead which cost us USD2. It even comes with 4 round plug-points. As a matter of interest, both Zambia and Malawi use square plugs as found in the UK.
L: We met Chris and Sandy, the owners who are really friendly with Kevin at our service. Chris arranged for someone to buy airtime for us as we had run out of data bundle and we wanted to post. The lodge did have wifi until some lightening knocked it out and it still has to be fixed. We enjoyed spreading ourselves out at a comfortable table and caught up on uploading the photos, posting the blog and general admin. I was offered a scone (Steve declined) , but we were hesitant to order anything with everything here being quoted in US dollars. We later found out that dinner main is USD 15 with any starter or dessert coming in at USD 5 per portion. Somewhat out of our league…….
There is a very friendly family staying here from Northern Ireland – Mark and Jill with 3 of their children Emily, Ross and Andrew who are exploring several places in Malawi as it is Jill’s country of birth.
We were treated to a beautiful sunset (and sunrise at Steps) so I took quite a few photos with a couple of birds dotted here and there ha ha. There is a lovely pool which I splashed in too.
Our dinner was a good T-bone steak, so tender on the braai with roast potatoes (in the flat potjie pot) and mushrooms and cole-slaw. Then we climbed “upstairs to rest our heads” ………
Day 38 –
S: The sun was already streaming in the tent flaps by the time we lifted them, what a life and the reflection off the water was almost blinding. We are reminded how lucky we are with Cape Town being in the grip of a freeze.
L: Today was a forced rest, especially for Steve so we took our time over coffee and rusks and later I made him a cooked breakfast of bacon and leftover potato and mushroom mix. I suggested a walk on the beach which we both really enjoyed going all the way down to see the friendly villagers on the south side and up to the sheltered lagoon above us.
It is always such a treat not to have the locals hassle us and not begging from us. The fishermen were all so friendly and we met a guide who freelances at the lodges, Tom who even speaks “a bietjie Afrikaans”. He fishes in the morning before taking people to the villages in the afternoon. The locals sell these tiny little fish that they catch in the fine-mesh nets or dry them for themselves. We call the dried fish “bokkoms” at home.
The children as really cute and very shy of the camera until you befriend them. Two mischievous little boys kept following us and we were roaring like a lion to entertain them. They eventually got really familiar and threw a mud-ball at my back after which Steve mock chased them. So nice to see everyone so calm and friendly in a relatively poor country.
So now, as I catch up with our writing, Steve is managing to read a book instead of the GPS or our road map and we are just relaxing. In my mind, I am thinking…….200kms a day to be on track for a 5 month trip of nearly 30 000kms, but I know Steve needs a bit of “down time”. Enjoy it, Dear, while you can.
It has been a great, lazy day with the sun shining on the lapping waves. The monkeys running along on the top of the branches is one of the many nature sounds here on our beach. The wind is picking up now, again and seems to have changed and is coming from the south. The lake is alive with Pied Kingfishers diving for the little fish that nearly choke them as they try to gulp them down. The sun sets quickly to the sound of the Fish Eagles that are far far away, out of sight.