Happy New Year!!!! For the holidays this year, I traveled to Nkhata Bay and Likoma Island with two fellow PCV friends. Here is a rundown of my fab travels and holiday!!!
Dec. 22, 2011
PC Headquarters and PEPFAR (Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) representatives visit me at FHI360. They want to observe and learn about PCVs working with NGOs. I share my stories, frustrations, and successes. They seem pleased. They tell me to look into working with PC Office of Global Health & HIV. Pretty cool....
Head out to Nkhotakota with my good friend Chloe and her family. We stay at Fish Eagle Bay. We spend the evening swimming and avoiding the lake flies.
Lake flies gave Lake Malawi the nickname "Lake of Fire." The flies collect over the water, looking more like tornadoes or smoke stacks over the water. Imagine thousands of flies hatching and collecting in one big group to mate. Birds, fish, and other creatures gather to eat them including Malawians. They will collect the bugs into large patties, fry the patty, and eat it. I tried it, it's disgusting, tastes like fish vomit. The enormous plumes of the flies float over the lake with the wind, but sometimes they end up on the shore wreaking havoc on anyone and anything in its way. The insects are tiny enough to enter bed nets, and they are just damn annoying.
Dec. 23, 2011
Spend the morning swimming and kayaking on the lake. For lunch, we walk over to Nkhotakota Pottery for a delicious lunch and some pottery shopping. I ate a salad, mushroom soup and cheesecake...things I never get to eat!!! At night, we watch the lightening dance across the lake. It was almost like a laser show.
Dec. 24, 2011
Eat delicious breakfast of fruit salad before heading out to travel. Travel begins at 8am. I arrive at my destination at 5:30pm...long day of mini buses, dust, and sun. Arrive in Nkhata Bay to stay at Mayoka Village Lodge. Go out dancing with fellow PC friends until 2am...felt like I was in America.
Dec. 25, 2011
Wake up late in morning. Immediately jump in water to swim and cool off! Eat good food all day. Relax and drink with fellow PCVs. For dinner, we head to H&M for butter fish (best tasting bbq fish ever) and kandole, cassava nsima. Kandole resembles raw dough and sits in your stomach for a couple of days, not allowing you to poop. But it is the tastiest meal you can have in Malawi!
Dec. 26, 2011
This is the day we catch the Ilala ferry, but not til the evening. So my friends and I shop for supplies and relax and swim before boarding at 8pm. The ferry takes 10 hours to get to our destination a mere 65km away (about 40 miles). Things just move slowly in Malawi. We first get on 2nd class only to discover its jam packed with people like a minibus. We decide to move to 1st class, the more expensive and roomier option. We sleep on the deck until our early am arrival.
|On a boat! First class deck of the Ilala.|
|Sunrise over Chizimulu Island.|
|Fishermen around Likoma Island.|
Dec. 27, 2011
Upon our arrival to Likoma Island, the rain begins. The Ilala doesn't have a dock on the island, so boats have to escort you to the shore. Needless to say, we were completely soaked! Mango Drift, the backpackers lodge on the island, picks us up in safari vehicle so we avoid the 45 minute hike in the rain.
|The money shot!|
The island is absolutely beautiful, exotic, and isolated. We spend most of our first day resting, swimming, and setting up tent. I snorkeled! The beach is very rocky, which at first was annoying. But when snorkeling you can see that the cichlid fish love to swim near the rocks, so its a very beautiful snorkeling area. Every night, the lodge has a big group dinner. The lodge is hosting 17 JICA volunteers, Japanese version of PC, so they are our party friends for the week!
|View from my lounge area. I spent most of the week in this spot!|
|On Likoma, islanders speak Chichewa, the most common language spoken in Malawi.|
Dec. 28, 2011
Most of our days on the island are spent the same way...swimming, snorkeling, sleeping in hammocks, drinking, eating, and repeat. It's a hard life!!!! Don't worry mom, we were slathering the 50spf sunscreen all over ourselves repeatedly!!!! The island was super hot and humid, but the water was a super cool temp.
|Sunset over the island.|
Dec. 29, 2011
Swimming, snorkeling, sleeping in hammocks, drinking, eating, and repeat.
|View from my hammock.|
|The stillness of the lake can change drastically and without notice.|
Dec. 30, 2011
We trek to a village with the famed Dr. Kumpolatta, a traditional healer. People throughout East Africa come to visit him so he can remove curses and other witchcraft from people who are visibly ill. For a medical anthropologist, this was a super cool excursion and experience. He told us his life story. Basically, he's a schizophrenic who utilizes the respect he has earned from people and the Anglican teachings to rid people of witchcraft. He danced and sang for us and wanted us to take lots of photographs. Legitimately though, I understand why people go to him. There was one woman with obvious rheumatoid arthritis who thought someone had possessed her hand. Medically, there is nothing that can be done for her in Malawi health clinics. RA drugs are nonexistent here. Another boy looked liked he had some sort of palsy, but again, Malawian hospitals can do little for him. So their only hope is to rid evil spirits through means of traditional medicine. The Dr. has lots of Anglican influence and even uses the ANAMED, medicinal plants and such that actually do help alleviate suffering and pain.
|Dr. Kumpolatta and his band sing the praises of God to empower his patients.|
|Dr. Kumpolatta's spiritual clinic.|
|Dr. Kumpolatta is quite a character.|
Anyway, the walk back is super hot but beautiful. Upon our return, all three of us laze in hammocks for several hours. That night, the lodge is supposed to have a NYE party, but the lake flies ruin it...
Dec. 31, 2011
Last day of lazing on the shores of Likoma Island. We pack and spend the afternoon swimming. The Ilala arrives arrives at 5pm but leaves around 9pm. We board the boat and pitch our tents on the dock. We celebrate on the deck with the friends we've made throughout the week on the island. We attempt to make the boat a party boat, but Malawians don't really celebrate the new year, they just wanted to sleep on the deck. At 2am, the rain pours!!!! I'm caught outside the tent so I get drenched in rain!!!! After 8 hours on the boat, we finally arrive back to Nkhata Bay.
|Celebrating the New Years on a boat!|
Jan. 1, 2012
Arrive at 5am to Nkhata Bay and get picked up by Mayoka Lodge transport...so nice. We are at the lodge too early, so we sleep for several hours on their cushions and couches. The rest of day is spent lazing about, swimming and eating the last good food before our journeys home.
Jan. 2, 2012
Denial sets in that the vacation is over....Transport home via minibus. Leave at 7:30am to arrive home at 4pm. Eat at Cafe Lahore, the only restaurant in Salima cause I have no food at home. Oh, and waking up this morning, I discover I've scratched my cornea and spent the whole ride home crying. Sleep for 24 hours due to eye and exhaustion.