In the morning one of the locals, Esther, took us around her village. It was Sunday so the children were not in school and were very excited to have visitors. It started with 6, then 12, then 30! The older ones could speak quite a lot of English. The little ones wanted to hold hands. We each had two or three on either side.
Esther explained the process of brick making from mud to baking. Each family unit has 4 living spaces made from bricks. The main living area, the toilet, the shower and the kitchen. The first three have steel sheets for roofs but the kitchen has thatch to let the smoke escape.
She introduced us to several families—which all seemed to be a cousin or a sister. Most families have at least 6 children. She explains, “This is why Zambia is so poor. The wife cannot say ‘No’ to her husband.“ The children from Mfuwe all seemed to be healthy and thriving.
The school is a series of 6 rooms, a library and a kitchen. In the kitchen there were only three large fire pits with humongous pots. This is where breakfast is served. ALL the children come to school every morning because of the breakfast porridge—a mixture of cooked maize, mashed soya beans and ground nuts.
The library is its own building and is the most popular place in the village. There are 2 volunteer librarians to help with reading lessons.
The remaining rooms are the classrooms: 6 rooms, 6 grades, 1,000 students. The kids from all of the neighboring villages come to the Mfuwe school. They also come on Sundays to watch television and play. Thus the throng that greeted us this morning.
We learned that each village has a “head man” who reports to the Chief. The Chief rules over several hundred villages. The chiefdom is not an elected position but an inherited one.
Everything but the lioness and cubs...
Each evening just after sundown, we hear drumming in the distance. It is coming from the surrounding villages. Elephants, despite their seemingly calm demeanor, are not the mild mannered gentle giants one might think. Mostly without malice, they create chaos as they lumber through villages eating anything and everything. And just due to their sheer tonnage, they topple thatched huts, chicken coops, water storage... anything that lays in their path. So at dusk the villagers position drumming sentries to deter the foraging giants.
This morning at breakfast a cheeky monkey dropped out of a tree, dashed into the dining area and grabbed Robert’s boiled egg, then his brother grabbed Shweta’s toast!
In the middle of the night we were all jolted awake by the most raucous cacophonous howling and screeching. It sounded like one of the baboons was being ripped to shreds. Just a normal family squabble.
Of all of the places I’ve now been on safari, the South Luanga was the only park with night game drives and walking safaris. The walking Safari was great for learning about the environment. We spent time talking about animal poop. But the most fascinating lesson from our guide, Abo, was about what happened last night. This environment is very sandy so every morning he could read the animal tracks and the drag lines. He pointed out the lone Zebra tracks the three Lions that following the zebra. Further along he pointed out where the Lions had dragged the zebra into the dense thicket. And his best guess was that the whole party was still there!
OK so maybe that’s an exaggeration. I have had Internet but it’s been terribly unreliable and there’s been so many more fun things to do that struggle with the Internet
The sight of the sparkling clear blue Lake Malawi was so welcomed after the long van ride. And it was a long 4 hours, crammed in the van, bouncing over potholes and shifting from one butt cheek to the other for some respite. My titanium knees were folded up at about 120 degrees so when we arrived I had to remind them how to straighten out. But Cape Maclear was worth the journey.
Cape Maclear is on the southern tip of Lake Malawi. The Lake is 350 miles by 47 miles and takes up 1/3 of the country. Lake Malawi was named “The Lake of Stars” because the hundreds of lanterns from local fishing boats look like stars in the night sky.
Our second night at Cape Maclear, Vicki had arranged for a sunset cruise. The sunsets at Lake Malawi are reputedly unparalleled. This cruise was dubbed “The booze cruise” since we were each asked to select whatever we wanted to drink from the bar. By the time the cooler was loaded, our guides could barely lift it. The skipper was Harry, a gregarious joyful host who would stand on the bow and sing to us. Needless to say, before long we were all belting out “Hakuna Matata” and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. The sunset trip’s highlight was watching the Malawi Fish Eagles circling, swooping, and snagging fish within a few yards of our boat. Dale masterfully captured an eagle mid flight, wings spread, talons extended using his handy point-and-shoot camera. And the challenge was on. Robert pulled out his professional Pentax camera with a 150-400 zoom lens. It looked like a bazooka compared to all of our cameras. Jo commented sardonically, “Why Robert, I have never seen one quite so big!” To which Dale rebutted, “it’s quite about skill not size” and you can see where the conversation went from there. Along the way we snorkeled and worked our way through a cooler of beer; and the sun set magnificently.
Lake Malawi is definitely one of my favorite places.
I met my family from Seattle and Austin in Nairobi. Yes Nairobi is a big, busy and probably dangerous city. Whatever. We enjoyed our few days there. I did find the perfect hotel!
I can’t say enough good things about this hotel. It was very British. That’s neither here nor there. There was live piano at mealtimes and when he heard our accents he played Jack Johnson and Billy Joel.
We spent 8 days on a wonderful safari organized by Seraphina with Africa Dynamics out of Seattle. Not a single single detail was overlooked.
Our favorite camp was Sentinel Mara—a tented camp perched just above the Mara River. Below us were 2 pods of hippos and they snorted and giggled us to sleep every night. One hippo snortles and then the response is a “ ha ha ha ha...” it was fun to imagine their jokes about the silly humans.
All the guides were A+, the food was superb meal after meal, the camp staff were kind, interested and had their own interesting stories. Of course there was the Big Five: Lions, leopards, rhinos, Buffalo, and Elephants. While the Big Five now mostly refers to camera wielding tourists, the name comes from the game hunters wielding big guns.
3 Country Tour with a Group of 11
Off on an adventure with a group of 11 on a tour of 3 countries, Malawai, Zambia & Botswana with Rock My Adventure.
Our new friend Shweta’s luggage was lost. Is this not your worst nightmare! Our resourceful leader called the host at Kiboki lodge who had a friend that worked at Lilongwe airport and miracle of miracles, he found her backpack and drove it to us! Here are the wild and crazy Brits taking full credit for the recovery mission.
Along the way…
Lilongwe Textile Market
"Hope for the best, plan for the worst." That pretty much defines adventure—when our first van broke down, only to be replaced by our second van that ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere. It takes good-natured traveling companions to stay in the adventure.
The following day we would make the four-hour trek to Cape Maclear, Lake Malawi, so it was an early night.