Monday, June 25, 2007

Weekend at the Lake

I can’t believe I’ve been doing this blog for a whole 7 months, and I haven’t written about the Lake. And yet the lake is such a big part of expat life here. When I say “the lake,” I of course mean Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi takes up 1/3 of the whole country. So it’s big. I don’t know how big, but it must be the 2nd or third largest body of water in Africa.

Lake Malawi is really the main focus of tourism here. There are a couple national parks, some hiking opportunities, and one or two picturesque old missionary towns, but most tourists in Malawi end up at the lake at one point or another.

So naturally, when Ed and Tommy came to visit, we all drove off for a lake weekend. This time, we drove North, to a place called Kande Beach. The hotel we stayed at is a nice little refuge, tucked away from the village and other hotels, and is a favorite spot for backpackers, overland truck tourists, and campers.

I, of course, am none of the above. So Jorge and I rented a thatched chalet directly on the beach. We had to use a communal bathroom area, but with a view like that, who can complain?

I spent the weekend just reading and relaxing, but the guys are never content just sitting still, so they found other ways to keep themselves entertained. Ed and Tommy went out with a friend to visit a local orphan support agency, and ended up being invited to a wedding. Jorge, on the other hand, sought out yet another way to raise my blood pressure and get himself killed.

Out in the bay there is an island – it is probably about a kilometer from the shore. One of our friends got the harebrained idea of swimming to this island. Jorge, never one to be shown up by anybody, signed up as well, somehow forgetting the fact that he’s not such a great swimmer. (Oh, and the picture is of him doing his Baywatch impersonation).

I pointlessly tried to talk him out of it, to no avail (did I really think I could ever sway him?) Fortunately, his two friends were wise enough to bring life jackets. Our friend Glen reckoned it would take about 20 minutes to swim to the island. He didn’t take into account the strong current, which kept sweeping them further and further away from their destination.

On the shore, I nervously watched as they flailed and floated for an hour, before finally reaching the shore of the island. Where Jorge promptly laid down and fell asleep. I, on the other hand, enjoyed my new copy of Real Simple from the comfort of a hammock under a palm tree. (Who do you think is the brains of this operation, huh?)

One of the things Kande Beach is known for is its horse rides. Horses and I don’t mix – there is a long history to this, but I think I really only figured it out the time a horse deliberately walked under an overhanging thatch roof, to try to sweep me off its back. Stupid beasts of burden. But that’s another story.

So while some of our friends went off on the ride, I stayed hammock-bound and got some great shots of the horses swimming out into the lake with riders on their backs. I love this shot of the dog eating a horse’s tail.