Published: January 11th 2011January 11th 2011
CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR CHITIMBA
First let us wish you all a very Happy and peaceful New Year and thank you for all the good will messages we have received.
Our seasonal celebrations were enjoyed on the shore of lake Malawi, at Chitimba where we were able to have exclusive use (as tourists!) of Mdokera's Paradise Campsite. It is the best campsite we have ever stayed at. Mdokera and is lovely family have been wonderful hosts. No electricity, no piped water but we still had hot showers when we wanted them and have been welcomed to join in with every day life and not such every day life too.
On Christmas Eve there was a gathering of local people to come and play drums, to sing and to dance. This was after Gill had spent time in the home of Mdokera's sister making a special lunch with several other women, killing chickens and cooking over very smokey fires....... we cooked rice, grown by Kettie, and made nsima (staple Malawian food made from casava flour) and "soup" which is actually a tomato and onion based sauce. It was a great women's activity but to prepare meals in such a camp style every day of the week would be quite a trial for us! Emerging from the kitchen to get some air and wipe my streaming eyes at one point, I must have looked like a scarey ghost because one of the toddlers saw me and ran screaming to his mother's skirt. I've seen him again since and he just cries every time he claps eyes on this msungu woman.
Both Christmas night and New Year's eve, we sat on the beach and gazed at the stars, watched amazing lightning as it lit up the sky and totally dominated the few fire works that went up. There were fire flies and the lights of the fihermen out in their canoes........ the gentle slapping of the waves on the shore and knew we'd never been anywhere else more beautiful at Christmas time.
Yesterday we had to leave Mdokera's and I felt it was so hard to leave Paradise! We have seen Mdokera and Kettie today as they came up to Mzuzu (3 hours on the bus) to meet with us again and buy a sewing machine which I had promised to Kettie last year when we stayed. We have managed it and Kettie is now on the bus home and keen to get on and start her business before her baby is born in February.
I wrote up to here before the electricity cut off..... very frustrating! I was in the best internet cafe ever too! Fast speeds and able to view photos from email recieved (that doesn't happen very often!)
We are now back in Nkhata Bay after spending time at Chintheche again with 6 artists we met there who Derek is helping to set up business via a website. We had a great time with them and have been invited to all their villages as I think I have mentioned before on the blog. I returned to one of the villages where a group of villagers are supporting orphans from the area and after meetings with the small chief of the village and the headman of the big chief, these women are setting up as a charity and networking with an umbrella organisation. I am trying to gather all the relevant information to be able to help with applications to charities. The women have ideas about income generating activities and income is needed urgently to feed, clothe, shelter and educate these orphans. There are many villages throughout Malawi struggling to help children and young peolpe orphaned through the Aids and affected by HIV.
Our last night at Chintheche was spent on the beach with the Big 6 and most of their wives and children. 2 of the guys had had to cope with children in hospital with Malaria while we were there..... The beach party was great. Derek has recorded quite a bit on the MP3 now and we have memory now of that one drum and the dancing and singing round the fire that night.
Nkhata Bay is hot an humid and the electricity is off as often as it is on while there are storms in the area. I'm ready for another shower! This mornings shower was shared with 4 fluffy ducklings. It was another whole new experience!
Take care out there and hope you don't have to wait quite so long again as you've waited for this one!