"A theif found me at the lake"
After a WONDERFUL, and completely undeserved two week vacation relaxing on the many stunning beaches of Lake Malawi, Bri and I had our backpacks stollen from out tent.
Missing: Backpack, hiking boots, passport (which was then recovered), clothes, multi-tool, sunglasses, and a long series of unvaluables.
Even though its unfortunate to have things stollen, always, I'm glad it was me and not some poor tourist who had everything in his/her bag. I can go get more clothes at my house. Besides, ipod, cash, debit/credit card, phone, house key, were all on me at the time so it could have been far more than just extremely frustrating at the time.
Bri and I headed up to Mzuzu in the northern region in time for 4th of July celebrations at the lake in the northern region of Malawi, Nkhata Bay. Independence day was fun, fireworks and baseball-less, but fun. There was a group of volunteers from the Northern Region (who we never see), and Bri and I. The next day we picked up and headed toward the trailhead to Ruwarwe. Three days of hiking, never more than ten feet from beautiful Lake Malawi. It was incredible. I wish everyone could do it. Yes, I took pictures, but (as usual) be patient with me, I don't have a camera cord on me. The first day we hiked for about 5 or 6 hours, not counting the hour long swim break we took to fully embrace the tropical paradise we were tromping around in. That night we camped on the beach in a small fishing village. In the morning we were woken up at dawn by the fisherman singing as they came in from a long night of sitting silently in their hand dug-out canoes on the water. We packed up and headed out.
The second day was a similar program, except we pitched our tents inside a church right off the shoreline. After a long day of sweating, I decided to do some laundry in the lake. The rough waters of the giant lake stole my underwear and I had to jump in after it while a small gaggle of village children took their seats to watch the antics. I got it back, finished, went for a quick dip to rinse off and we hit our tents for the night.
The third day, since we were ahead of schedule the entire time, we only had a three hour hike until we reached our destination. We got into the lodge, it is beautiful. The only way in is hiking for three days or a ferry that comes once a week, I assume there's no more I need to say about the seclusion of the place. We enjoyed beautiful scenery, good company, a plentiful library, and delicous food for a few nights, all broken up by days of jumping off of rocks and decks and snorkeling.
Before we new it, it was time to head back to "normal" life and we made our way to the neihboring village where we would catch the Ilala (the 620 ton ferry that moves up and down Lake Malawi and a snail-pace). Boats came to shore and shuttled people to the ferry that is WAY too large to beach. We climbed on, bought our tickets and were on our way. We were in third class (the cheapest) and were sort of cramped, so I decided to wonder around a little bit (in true hobo fashion). I made my way up to the top deck eventually where I not-so-accidentally ran into the cabin:
Amy-Hello, are you the captain?
C-Yes, one of two, how can I help you?
A-I want to drive the boat.
C- Excuse me?
A-I want to drive the boat. Do people ever drive the boat?
C-Yes, uh-I do.
A-Can I drive the boat?
I then spent the next chunk of time getting tutorials on the benefits and how to use pnuematic steering systems, the course we were on, and driving the Ilala ferry. Half way into my Ferry boat driving experience:
Captain2: Whose driving my boat!?!
Amy: I am! Also, I would appreciate if you refered to me as Captain, there's been a mutany on this vessel.
C2: Laughs. [Exit Stage left]
After five hours of entertaining myself on the ferry (which if you know me, personally, you know what a challenge that can be for long periods of time sitting) we finally got off in Nkhata Bay again. We stayed a few nights there, waiting for a two friends who recently finished their service to show up on their way out of Malawi to Dar es Salaam. They showed up, we had a dance party. That night our backpacks were stollen and you know the story and we're back to the beginning of this entry.
The next morning, we spent at the police station where we charmed the police into helping us with a free police report (too much charm, I think, there were 2 mairrage proposals in a matter of 2 minutes that went something like this:
Police officer: Well your passport was stolen so you can't leave the country, you're going to have to stay here.
Amy: What will I do here?
P: Marry me!
A: Sindingalole ("I can't accept that").)
After I got my passport back, we headed down to Lilongwe in the back of a truck full of sweet potatoes. We got in yesterday, slept really well (this was the first time I had slept in a bed since vacation started, since I don't have an therma-rest in countrty and I was camping the whole time to save money).
Now I'm at the Peace Corps office filling out reports and updating you find folks on my semi-interesting life (mostly for my whiny brother).
I'm ready to go back down to site and get some stuff done. Vacation is over, I have a ride to Blantyre tomorrow, then its back to work on Monday!
I hope everythings good stateside.
For more information, or a picture of the Ilala, see: http://www.malawi-travel.com/lake_malawi_south/mv_ilala_cruises.html