When you look at the map of Malawi, the first thing you’ll notice is the massive lake right in the middle of the country. The lake is well known for the many fish and birds that reside there, but really, we’ve come to be lazy beach bums for a couple of days.
We arrive at Chitimba beach when it is already dark so there really isn’t any chance of seeing the surroundings. I am really starting to dislike this coming and going in the dark, because somehow it makes me feel disconnected from place and time. By now, I am kind of lost as to where or when we are, but I have faith that the feeling will return soon enough. And to be fair, part of the fun of travelling is forgetting what day it is. And we’ve managed that already!
The next morning there is the option of visiting a witch doctor, but we’ve decided not to go – it seems too touristy for our taste even if the stories the people bring back do sound like fun. Instead we have the possibility to leisurely stroll along the beach, enjoying the water lapping at our feet and the views of a mountain range that we were unable to hike up due to time constraints. We see people mending their fishing nets – the size of the nets greater than I would have thought possible for little fisher boats – and people washing themselves in the lake. The lake is so big, it looks like a sea so at first I don’t understand it, but quickly realise that this is actually fresh water and so the washing wouldn’t ruin either skin or clothes.
We make our leisurely way back and hop on the truck for more driving. It may not take us another 14 hours, but today is still a pretty long drive day. We are headed towards Kande beach where we will spend a whole free day. Us and about a trillion lake flies. The first night we notice a bunch, but the next night and day we really see how many there are. During the day, they appear as smoke on the lake and during the night they fly around every source of light in big, choking flogs.
Thankfully, the flies are not the only thing to see and do around the beach. Erik and I decide to do a hike up a nearby mountain. We are told that it will take about 4 hours there and back again, but after just 1,5 hours of plodding through the immense heat – that has started to increase since 5 a.m. – and chatting away with the four (!) men accompanying us, we make it up the mountain. The view is decent enough and we are happy to have made it. But then “the monkey comes out of the sleeve”.
We are asked to play a local game. With glances filled with knowing, we each play with one of the guys and then against each other. Me winning every single game. And sure enough, they ask us to buy the game for bargain of just $ 57,-. We kindly decline, telling them we really cannot buy stuff from every person who offers since we’ve got a long time to go. The way back to the camp is noticeably quieter as non of them seem to want to chat anymore. Oh well, the children along the route are still happy to wave at us and run along, so we just laugh it off.
The rest of the afternoon is spent in either reading or sleeping (for me) or sleeping, getting antsy and deciding to swim the 1 km to a nearby island (Erik). Amongst the many jokes of the two guys swimming getting eaten by crocks or drowning, the rest of the people take turns following them with a pair of binoculars. I am relieved more than I anticipated when Erik reaches the island and am able to fully enjoy the spectacle of him hailing a canoe, climbing in it and being taken back about half way. He reaches the shore with energy left to buy himself a beer, so I am glad to have kept my fretting silent.
That night we have a real treat: slowly roasted pork – and a sunset to die for. All day, the pig has been turned of a coal fire and the most delicious smells have been reaching our nostrils. By dinner time, my mouth is simply salivating in anticipation of the food and when the pulled pork finally touches my taste buds, I am in heaven! The only thing marring the perfection of a warm night with good food and cold beer being the swarm of lake flies the engulfs us. So we just find a dark spot to chat and hide out in our tent. Ready for another drive day and our first real safari!