Saturday, July 10, 2010

chapter 4

21.6 Finally reached north Malawia and am sitting in the ‘best’ room of a rest house on the idyllic shores of Lake Malawi. Only problem is that there is a leaving party in full swing and it doesn’t seem to be coming to an end. Big base, African style. It’s a leaving ‘do’ for an English couple who have been working at a nearby medical project which is sponsored by the Wellcome Foundation and has been working on TB, leprosy and AIDS for the past 30 years. The English couple were looking forward to pub lunches and not having to live in a house with a tin roof.
Fabulous journey to get here. Must be one of the best journeys in Africa. From Rumphi and then and a gradual climb through countryside which becomes progressively greener after the dust bowl of the centre. The M1 goes through wooded valleys, past banana groves, over rivers and then drops spectacularly down the Rift Valley escarpment, 1000 metres above the glittering, sand fringed Lake Malawi with white crests of waves, in Europe this would be millionaire territory. The Lake is the last of the great lakes of the rift valley, a mighty split which is thought will eventually end in the north-east of Africa sailing off into the Indian Ocean.
We stopped at the Livingstonia turning, hoping to get a lift up into the hills to see the famous missionary village. No lift so we abandoned that idea and instead got on a minibus for the 15 mile trip to the Chilumba turning. Hair-raising journey with a maniac driver. 90MPH past kids coming home from school. The Malawi road crash statistics are apparently gruesome and we just prayed that we would not be added to the list. I told Jumbo that we would not be going on a minibus again.
So to the rest house which appears to be a British construction from the 30s with thick walls and metal windows and doors and a large cockroach in a non-functioning bath with taps detached. We rescued the cockroach which later on met a gruesome end as a swarm of bath-inhabiting ants fed on him for their supper and scrunched up every last drop of juice. Fabulous butterflies in garden, real tropical feel with fishermen and nets just outside the grounds and bats whirling around the lights catching moths. An eagle flapped lazily across the lake and black and white woodpecker flew across the garden.

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