Thursday, 20 August 2015

Early monkey wake up call

Now travelling with the boys from Engineerswithout Borders, our trip to Nkhata Bay was much longer than expected, but then this is Africa, so I suppose that was to be expected.

The bus was supposed to leave at 11.30 am and after being told that we had a seat, then that we didn’t, then that there was no bus today, then that there was a bus but it was full and finally there was a bus and it was full but if we could squeeze on we could get on it, we eventually started boarding at around 1pm. Tight squeeze does not even come close. I quickly became an intimate acquaintance with the next guy’s armpit and had a small boy ask me if I’d marry him (of course, I said yes - he had a bag of sweets). When we spilled off the bus in Mzuzu at around 8.30 we had another hour in a taxi to the Bay. By the time we arrived we could barely stand; we ate and went straight to bed.

The next morning I was woken early by what sounded like a herd of angry pigs charging my cottage. When I went to investigate, I was greeted by hundreds of monkeys chasing each other around and play-wrestling right on my doorstep. It was amazing to watch. 

The little ones were bouncing up and down together and running circles around a big rock in front of the lake. 

I must have watched them for about an hour before, one by one, they disappeared back into the trees and I was left alone in silence with the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen.

That morning we travelled back into Mzuzu to give a talk at the University about the bicycle powered water pump that EWB have been developing. The pump is very simple and low cost, and uses a very simple system to pump water from Lake Malawi into farmers’ fields.

Later, back in the Bay, we spent the late afternoon enjoying the quiet tranquility of the lake. I’m not one to sit and relax very often, but you just can’t help it at this place. Everyone is super friendly; we were staying at Butterfly Space (a unique, non-profit, volunteer community project which brings international volunteers and the community together - more on that another time) and pretty much everyone was there working or on some kind of volunteering programme, so it was really nice to get to know people and hear their stories. It’s somewhere I could quite happily disappear to, never to be seen again.

With new friends in tow, we decided to have an explore around the town part of the bay and had a wander through the market, had some lunch (which, again, took a lot longer than expected!) and eventually strolled back up to Butterfly for dinner and drinks overlooking the water.

The nights at Butterfly consisted of drinking and talking, playing pool (badly) and stumbling back to my room in the pitch dark in the early hours. The days were spent meeting important folk, such as the Minister of Agriculture,  door-stepping people and making important contacts to help the EWB boys make their project a success.

Five short days passed in a blur. If ever there was a place I could go back to, this is it.

Next stop – SAFARI!

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