Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 141 - Blantyre to Senga Bay

Woke up at 430 this morning.  Not surprised as I did manage to fall asleep by 730 last night.  Just beat from the long day of riding the day before.  That was good though because I could reach Senga Bay before lunch, 290km north and then have a chance to relax for a change.  Searched for a working ATM as I needed money for fuel.  Took out 20,000 kwachas (130USD).  Couldnt believe the stack of bills I recieved all in 500 bill denominations!  Didnt fit in my wallet.  LOL.  

Arrived in Senga Bay and had a place picked out, Cool Runnings.  Ended up riding through a village on a dirt road to get there only to find out it was closed.  The sign posted stated the owners were off on a holiday for the month.  Sigh.  Next pick was Wheelhouse but when I got to the paved road a guy approached me and asked what I was looking for.  I explained what happened and he stated that Wamwai was a good place too, right beside Cool Runnings, so I turned around and headed back through the village. Frank was this guy's name. He would meet me later to discuss a snorkeling excursion.

What a place the village was.  Authentic Africa, so to speak.  Met Leon, an ex pat from South Africa and an retired Special Forces South African police officer.  He and his wife, Ingrid, left South Africa due to the violence.  The kicker were several thefts , home and car break ins and his daughter was held up at knife point, all in a two week span.  Apparently, as a tourist, you are not likely to be a victim of crime but if you live there, and are white, you have a 100% chance of being a victim.  Now, Leon and Ingrid run a beach lodge and have two projects on the go in the adjoining village, one, to help set up a self sustaining educational system and the other, conservation of fish in Lake Malawi due to over fishing.  I was there no more than 15min when he offered to take me on a tour of the village, show me the school, the housing, churches and the waste management.    He said the kids would sleep in the classroom because it was too far to go home at the end of the day.  Temperatures would reach 40 Celcius inside the classrooms during the heat of the day.  The toilets are drop toilets (outhouses) and they are full to capacity.  There is no money to get them pumped out so all the kids use the hillside behind the school.  During a rain, all this raw sewage washes into the river and out into the lake.  I also received a quick lesson in Malaria, 5 strains, one of which will kill you in 4 days if not treated. In the 3 years they have been there Leon has had it 3 times and Ingrid 9.  Wow. That was all I needed to hear and I quickly soaked myself in DEET. RobC is probably thinking, bah humbug, I've had it, no big deal.  :) 

Typical school teacher's house.

Typical classroom

Another classroom.

Old school teacher's house they are trying to rebuild.

Outside of the school.  You can see the poor foundation and broken windows

Soccer field with ground maize as the chaulk to line the field. Syd, my daughter, will appreciate this.

 Center field.

 Drop toilets

Frank showed up at 2pm to take me to Lizard Island, 1.5km off shore, to do some snorkelling and try to catch a glimpse of the many monitor lizards on the island.  I sat in the fishing village on the beach waiting for the boat to be prepared, ie, the motor to be mounted.  We got into an old wooden fishing boat with a small outboard 35hp motor.  The one guy started bailing water and continued to bail for the entire trip.  I realized half way to the island that we had no life jackets or oars, in case the motor stopped.  Snorkelling was ok. The waters were churned up from a storm the night before.  Saw some very colourful fish and with the water at about 28 Celcius, it wasn’t hard to just sit there enjoying the warm bath.  Lake Malawi is known for its diverse and abundant tropical fresh water fish, species not found anywhere else on the globe.  As I sat on a rock, there were literally hundreds around me and they weren’t shy.  I also didn’t venture far off the shore.  I swim like a stone.  Enough said.  Hiked the perimeter of the island which wasn’t large and only saw one lizard about a meter and a half long.  We returned from the hike and while we waited for the boat Frank took a liking to my flip flops and asked what I wanted for them.  He mentioned he did some carving so we made a deal.  A painting for the flip flops and some carvings for a T-Shirt.  Cool.  

The fishing village

 The fish market

The fishing nets sprawled on the beach.

Fresh fish drying in the sun

Getting the boats ready for the evening fishing.

Fishing boat with a dugout canoe across it.  They carry 3 per boat out to the fishing site and these hold the lanterns that draw the fish toward the surface and into the nets.

Trying to launch "my" boat.

 Tree roots along a rock wall on Lizard Island.

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