Getting out of dodge on the weekends has been a great way to reduce roommate stress and see more of this incredible country. The journey to Lake Malawi was hot, restful, and increased my awe at the beauty of this amazing country.
We journeyed to a private bungalow Friday night after work. Arriving at the sandy road leading to the beach, my little lemon bomb car was struggling. Another 3+ miles in towards the beach off the main road we went, almost getting stuck several times in the deep sand. Unsure which of the tiny roads led to the house, we were greeted by a band of village kids eager to stare at us and jeer, politely!
The leader emerged, a 12 year old girl named Chantel. She spoke nearly perfect English with a lilting Malawian accent and was wearing a ripped brown t-shirt with a horse on the front. Her skirt was up to her thighs, navy blue with grosgrain ribbon on the border, very well worn. She directed us to the house seated in her wet skirt (she had been swimming in her clothes) in the back seat. Her command of English gave her the role of leader of the tribe so to speak as she directed the other children to mind their own business and stay clear.
Nestled in the mango trees heavily laden with fruit, the bungalow perched on the edge of the beach with a commanding view of the water. The beach was white sand as far as one could see. Privacy on all sides, I was enthralled by the location and the aesthetics of the “cottage”. The bungalow was built by Mike, an American living in Malawi now for 15 years, as a long term project to be used as a guesthouse and getaway for those wanting privacy and a self contained space. Mike’s own home, about 100 yards away, was also built by hand and is where he lives, alone. Can’t imagine living in such isolation for 12 years in this location but he is happy and a gem of a guy. We were welcomed by the cadre of beach dogs, and of course Chantel, who barely left my side the entire stay.
Chantel continued to disperse the group of kids who wanted to hang around and stare at the muzungu and did an effective job of it. The bungalow is enchanting. Built with native stone, the spaces in between are painted vibrant blues, yellows and greens which makes the stonework pop. The center of the one room structure is the bed, elevated on a concrete and stone platform. Living and dining areas complete the room. There is a private bath and shower as well as a separate bunk room.
Mike prepared and served dinner at his home after we had a chance to relax in the hammocks in the sand under the front bamboo roof. It was HOT. Sand is so hot during the day you must wear flip flops or your feet will burn just going to the water for a swim. Mike prepared fresh whole chambo (a native fish) chicken, rice and green beans. It was delicious and we all ate together, yes, Chantel too! She lives next door to Mike with her mom and is one of 17 children. Her father had 6 wives; that’s a story for another day.
Saturday we headed to Chinteche, further south on the Lake and stayed at Chinteche Inn. Great restaurant, pool, beautiful grounds, very relaxing. We were the only guests. Rooms were stiflingly HOT. Even with my own personal fan which I travel with everywhere now, and a ceiling fan, it was HOT. NO AC of course. I spent most of Saturday reading, swimming, and preparing test questions for the final exams. I also met Lorin, a very interesting 30ish year old from Alberta, Canada who has been in Malawi for 5 years doing re-foresting of trees for an NGO. Fascinating young woman, dedicated to her work who has lots of plans to see the world. I meet people like this everyday in Malawi and it is so interesting, and easy to develop relationships.
Sunday we headed back to Nkhata Bay and sat on the deck at Butterfly Lodge well into the evening. Met some more stimulating and fascinating world travelers and we ate together on a huge deck on the Lake, by candlelight (no power) under a rising moon. Doesn’t get much better.
By morning I regretted my laziness in not applying bug repellent as I was furiously bitten on my legs and face either on the deck or during the night (no mosquito net there). Hopefully my antimalarials are working….
Just another routine getaway in Malawi. Hope you are enjoying traveling with me!