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Dramatic landscape
The last two weeks has been an experience like no other. After leaving Nkhata Bay we continued our journey northwards towards Tanzania. If you were to look on a map, you would notice that there are no roads leading down to the lake from Nkhata  bay to somewhere near Chilumba-a stretch of about 120   km. The steep mountains that greeted us as we began to amble our way into stage two of our circumnavigation accounted for this. The next 6 days was spent in the midst of what is probably the most dramatic scenery I have had the pleasure of seeing. Whoever first used the epithet “crystal clear” to describe water must have spent some time in this area of Malawi. The mountains rise arrogantly from the deep blue water and you get the feeling that time has had no effect on these titans that, with austere simplicity, lay rocky fingers of protection on the life below. The isolated villages that lie within this protection dot the hillside without any uniformity and the people here are solely dependent on the land and lake with little or no outside influence or corruption depending on which way you see it.

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The day of the sunrise
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Lunch on the water
If you asked me what happened on Day 7 of our trip I would be hard pressed to give you details. It becomes a bit like this after a while. The memories are there but it is difficult to grasp them on request. The scenery however, is a part of the trip that has stayed with me in detail and recalling it helps render details difficult to pry out on their own. What I mean is that if someone mentions ‘that one morning with the sunrise’ I can think to my self –ah yes I had a sore back that morning and the screws on the left rudder peddle were irritating me. Sort of like when you get a stone in your shoe and you ignore it for a while and the stone feels like it grows in size to mock your stubbornness in fixing the issue. I digress. What I was talking about was the scenery. It is amazing how the surroundings can breathe life into a tired body. ‘The day with the sunrise’ was the first day when we were on the water before dawn.  We had been paddling close on 10 minutes when the sun peeked with eager rays through the clouds that shrouded the escarpment on the Mozam side. A better writer would undoubtedly come up with some obscure metaphor  that would liken the sunlight hitting the water  to some metaphysical moment when an ageing alchemist catches his breath as he discovers the formula of transforming water in to liquid gold. I am no such writer so all I can say is that if I thought that this trip would quell some of the wanderlust that I feel then this particular sunrise has left me sorely mistaken and wanting more.


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If the previous two paragraphs has left you with the impression that it has been plain sailing for us then I apologise. The crafts are still taking in quite substantial amounts of water despite all our efforts to locate the leak. Our diet for the last week has consisted mainly of rice and a spice of our choice. After the other night we are all in agreement that mixing rice and uncooked tomatoes is a terrible idea. Every now and then we manage to shoot or catch a fish which provides much needed protein albeit in meager amounts. Our fitness has increased dramatically and we are all feeling strong and the increasing number of km covered per day gives testament to that. Despite this there are plenty of niggling injuries that have started to creep in which can be expected given the nature of the trip. We are all losing weight, some more drastically than others, even though we are eating ridiculous amounts of carbs. Other than that our health is great and we are looking forward to stage three of the journey which will take us down the east coast of the lake towards Mozambique.


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By the way, I am writing this post from the Hope for the Future orphanage in mBeya, Tanzania where we have spent a wonderful two nights in the enthusiastic company of Sharmala Buell and the orphan children who benefit from her care. It truly is a wonderful feeling to be in a position to help these children who are so deserving of anything that we are able to give.


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I could spend hours writing about all that we have experienced however I am running out of space. Nevertheless I want to briefly tell you about two memorable moments, one highlight and one lowlight, of our trip so far. We woke up one morning on a beach in Karonga. The wind was howling and the fierce waves were dangerously close to the tents. We were informed by one of the locals that we should enter the lake with extra caution as that morning a dug-out canoe had washed up a few hundred metres from us with nets and a rod still on board but no person. This news was eerily punctuated by cries of grief from a lady who we later learned was the mother of the drowned fisherman. Adding to this terrible news we were also informed that two weeks prior to us being there, a local had been taken and eaten by a croc. The events of that morning left us a bit shaken. It was a reminder that for all of its exceptional beauty and romantic appeal there lies a darker side to mother nature that needs to be respected.


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On a lighter note after a morning of heavy swells we pulled in to a beach for our midday break. The village where we stopped was no doubt one of the smallest and more remote villages we had encountered. We laid down Terry (the tarpaulin) and after five minutes of relaxing one of the villagers came over and said that the village would like to invite us to lunch. We followed him and joined the locals for a lunch of Nsima and usipa which was surprisingly delicious. These people had next to nothing yet still had so much to give. It is for this reason, and the scenery that I described earlier, that has made Malawi such a special place for us. We are sad to leave it and it is with slight trepidation with which we proceed down the east coast of the lake to the sparsely populated and somewhat mysterious coastlines of Tanzania and Mozambique.


To end off, here are a few things that I have learnt so far:
·       I can paddle 45km in a day.
·       Mark can sing for about 50 min without taking a break.
·       It is extremely difficult to catch fish on the Malawian side with artificial lures.
·       A fire cracker will still go off under the water.
·       It is possible to fall out of a kayak.
·       In some places in Malawi a coke costs the equivalent of R2 which is cheaper than buying a plastic packet to keep it in.
·       You and your rash vest begin to smell awful after a month of not wearing deodorant.
·       Having a mustache is frustrating when spear- fishing as water keeps getting in to your mask.
·       Guy can actually grow a beard.
·       After a month of sleeping pretty much on the ground it is difficult to adjust to a proper bed.
·       There are more stars in the sky than I ever thought there were.
·       Goat meat is surprisingly tasty.
·       When a Malawian gives you a distance in km to the next town it is necessary to times it by two and you know that you will be about halfway.

P.S. Happy 21st birthday to a lovely young lady who, no matter how old she gets will always be my little sister.

P.P.S. Congratulations to Mark on the appearance of his first two abdominal muscles. He has informed me with great optimism that number 3 and 4 are on their way.

Caiden.

 


Comments

Judy & Trevj
05/09/2012 06:32

Well done Tup on the ab muscles......keep going guys, you must be almost half way. Lotsa love. Looking forward to meeting up with you. xx

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Sharmala Buell
05/12/2012 09:50

Hi! Guys!
Caiden, you have done it again! What poetry, energy and passion! I can see a book coming out of this trip!
We miss you guys! The boys are reminiscing about your time with us. The kids at the ICP and the boys at home pray for your safety. Have heard from all your moms and they are very happy that you have topped up on your food supplies. Hope the leaks are sealed and the winds are fair!
Mungu awabariki! (God bless you)
Sharmala and the kids!

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Kim
05/14/2012 22:42

Keep up the goodwork boys and paddlesafe this is the difficult part take it easy and keep your eyes and ears open!

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08/28/2013 16:25

I created a weebly blog after seeing how simple it looked.

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