Thursday, January 06, 2011

January 6, 2011 Our Trip to Monkey Bay

It is hard to believe that for the last few nights our sleep has been disturbed because the room was too cold. The reality is that the air conditioner is very difficult to control. It blows directly on me and I have been sleeping in that clammy, sticky, cold state that for me at least is very uncomfortable. So last night I turned the a/c way down and wore a long sleeved t-shirt.

We had made arrangements to leave with Fredson for Monkey Bay and Cape Maclear right after breakfast this morning. Incredibly I made the room too comfortable. Despite being in bed at 9 p.m. we didn’t wake up until almost 9:00 a.m. and the phone rang – Fredson was looking for us!!!

Monkey Bay is the major port on Lake Malawi. It took about 45 minutes to drive the 42 Kilometers. To say the least they are not set up for tourists – other than the admission charge of first 500 kwachas but ultimately 1000 kwachas a piece. But the scenery is beautiful. We had a guide and he walked us around the port and took us for a tour of the ferry. Three classes of travelers – take my word for it you don’t want to travel 3rd class on this ferry – first class didn’t seem so luxurious either. It is a six day journey fro Monkey Bay to Mulanga with many stops in between.

They told us that the monkeys come out in the cool of the morning but retreat to the trees and bush for the heat of the day – smart monkeys. It was very very hot and humid – clouds moving in and out threatening rain – it rained intermittently all around us.

Cape Maclear is one of the places where Livingston stayed. It actually isn’t that far from Monkey Bay – by water – it is on the other side of one of the mountains surrounding Lake Malawi so the trip by car is some distance. Fredson was a bit concerned about the road but he asked some folks and they assured him that it was ok. The main road is asphalt, is fairly narrow but reasonably smooth. The road to Cape Maclear is dirt – think a dirt grid road but in serious need for upgrade.

Cape Maclear is a land protectorate – sort of a national park – and it cost 300 for Fredson and the car and 750 each for me and Helene. There is a museum there and an aquarium. Some boys wanted to take us by boat to one of the islands to see eagles and fish but we regretfully declined. We spent a few minutes in the museum reading the posters and listened to our guide tell us about the fish in the lake – many varieties of Mbuna fish – none of course were in the aquarium – this is Africa.

The scenery was spectacular overlooking the beach and the lake. We were told that this part of the Lake has the cleanest water and the largest variety of fish. The history of the area is interesting culminating in an attempt to have a luxury hotel between 1948 and 1951 – access was by water planes – but it didn’t last long. Evidently the flies and malaria had an effect on the clientele.

The drive back to the Sun ‘N’ sand was uneventful and lunch was predictable – fish, beef (which may or may not be beef) chicken (I’m starting to recognize the pieces), Nsema, rice and something green that had been boiled (I hope)

I spent a good part of the afternoon sitting in the back of Margaret’s simulation and then had a short nap. Helene is determined to ride a camel. They have 6 camels and a herd of donkeys right next to the reception centre. It all contributes to the atmosphere –odour and all!! We have been trying to get a ride for the last three days – 1000 Kwachas – but they need three people and there has only been one young fellow – so we watch them, take their pictures and leave. She won’t be riding camels this trip – we’ll just have to come back!!!

We had hoped to go back to Club Mac for dinner but it looks like our participants want to have a cocktail party at 7 so its likely we’ll stay here tonight. Tomorrow – off to Liwonge Barradge to catch the boat to Mvuu – let us all pray for clean sheets.


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