January 30, 2014, Lilongwe
In the morning we stood up and had breakfast. I had hot milk and rice crispies from the buffet. The weather was bad.
After school we went to town. There were many people asking for money. We didn’t like that. We did a long search for a restaurant and everybody was angry. We had a mango smoothie, which was good. After buying groceries we had supper and then we watched a movie about Nelson Mandela and the Springbok captain. I liked to see Cape Town in the movie.
In the night, we heard the muezzin call because it was Friday. I was afraid a bit because I was somewhere new and it was a strange sound.
Here is the poem from the movie:
Invictus (William Earnest Henley)
Out of the night that covers me
Black as a pit from pole to pole
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how straight the gate
How charged with punishment the scrolls
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.
January 31, 2014, Lilongwe – Nkhotakhota
We are quite happy to leave Lilongwe today. We have not found a key to Malawi here – only the oversized landcruisers of foreign aid organizations, their numerous expat employees, Malawians who ask us to take them to South Africa and locals who don’t seem eager or competent to do their jobs. It makes us sad and takes us by surprise after our experiences in Zambia, where everyone seemed proud of their nation.
We drive southeast to Dedza, a mountain village with a sawmill where we visit a pottery and enjoy their apple pie and custard tarts – a great change from the three standard meals we have either been cooking ourselves or been served the last few weeks. It is cool up here, and as the drizzling rain starts again, we decide to change our plans and drive north to Nkhotakhota. We feel adventurous and can’t imagine snorkeling in this weather anyway.
The winding road down the escarpment is one of the most beautiful drives we have experienced on our trip. Villages dot the landscape, between them, maize, cassava and bananas grow on every available square meter. People are working everywhere, plowing by hand or carrying heavy loads of wood and water. We are shy in taking pictures, but the images rest in our memories.
One thousand meters lower, we head north again, the lake only a few kilometers away. Few cars find their way here, even though the road is in excellent condition. People on foot or bicycles form a steady procession along the road, may carrying 50 kg bags of maize on their heads. The harvest is 1-2 months away, and there is not enough local food left to feed the 16 million Malawians, so maize is distributed by the UN food program.
We push on because it is late, and finally arrive in Nkhotakhota worn out and hungry. The constant drizzle makes us feel gloomy and uninspired – the beach, the lake, the sky are grey.
Only when the kids are in bed, a cup of wine in one hand, chocolate and a cigarette within good reach, do we see some stars shining faintly through the clouds – giving us hope that easier days are to come again.
February 1, 2014, Nkhotakhota Safari Lodge
On the day that marks half-time of our trip – 48 days – we wake to the cheerful chatter of local fishermen, pulling in the net right in front of our cottage. The sun is out, the lake a sparkling blue, with towering white clouds over the distant Mozambiquan coast.Soon, the boys join the fishermen and pull in the net, standing waist-deep in the lukewarm water.
We bask in the sun, and swim and snorkel all morning. It is a fun and friendly exchange between us, the only tourists wide and far, and the locals. We feel very welcome.
Through the day, we try and establish what boats circulate on the lake, to potentially take us to Likhoma, an island far away from the mainland. There are essentially but two options, and our hopeful spotting of diesel smoke turns out to be clouds of insects dancing over the lake – like the fish and the crops part of the local diet. We make no heading in finding out whether Likhoma is an option, and in the afternoon we go for a pottery class in a nearby training center – one of the most fun things we have done on our trip so far. We all make several items on the pottery wheel – I am particularly proud when my attempt for a cup turns into a beautifully shaped bowl.
We’re all exhausted from the work and the heat, so we have dinner in the restaurant – one of the best ones of the trip so far, too. The cook shares local recipes, and it is interesting and moving to hear about the constant struggle of the largest part of the population to have food on the plate in the evening. We fall asleep with the fan at full blast, and distant lightning – but no rain. We can feel how the laid back atmosphere of the lake catches up with us, a welcome change from the hectic days to, in and from Lilongwe.
February 2, 2014, Nkhotakhota
Today in the morning we went snorkeling. We saw a lot of grey fish and when I was going back to the shore there was always a line of fish undernith me. After lunch we went to paint our pots from yesterday. While we were painting a tick came out of Matti’s ear. It was this big: 0. After that I went to watch Liverpool vs West Brom (It was 1:1). Then we had another quick swim and had a kwaiet evening.
February 3, 2014, Nkhotakhota – Bavanga Point
After packing up we had a quick swim in the lake. When we left and were on the proper road again, we realized that we forgot to give the keys back, so we had to drive there and back again. In Nkhotakhota we bought some drinks and a Malawian soccer shirt. I finished mine in about 5 minutes. When we finilly arrived in Dwangwe we bought some baisick stock, like water and matches. Matti also bought some fresh bread and I bought some maize. My mom bought some fabrics, too.
When we arrived at the lodge it was a beautiful beach and we immediately went swimming. Afterwarts, when we did school, our parents set the tent up. After supper, when we were showering, my brogher got sick. That night he vomited on my bed. In the end I had to sleep on a sleeping bag.
February 4, 2014, Makuzi Beach, Bavanga Point
First we made school and then we went on a boat to go on an island to look at fish, The water was very warm but then it started to rain. We could even hear the thunder under water. When we went back on the land again we took a hot shower until it stopped raining. Then we ate some soup.
Then we made school in the bar and I made a piece of art with my crayons. Later we went snorkeling again but we couldn’t see anything. I took the kayak and went to look for crocodiles because yesterday I saw one. It was lots of fun to ride the waves on my own. Then my mom made supper and we all went to bed where we giggled for a long time.
February 5, 2014, Makuzi – Nkhotakhota
When we woke up it was already hot, so we went for a swim and played in the waves. After breakfast, we did some school, Maths and German for me. When we were done with school (woohoo!), me and my brothers went kanuing. Then the boat came to pick us up for snorkeling again, this time we were able to snorkel around the whole island and the fish had some more colours in the sunlight. In the end my Mom, my Dad and Moritz jumped from a high rock.
When we got back, we went kanuing again. This time we went to a small island near the coast, and Matti cheated in the race we were having. Then we drove to Nkhotakhota to fetch our pots. Unfortunately, some were broken and the oven was broken too so we hope they will send them to Mulanje.