Published: June 1st 2012June 1st 2012
Rather than try to log everything I did on a daily basis I am going to describe certain aspects of the trip and hopefully provide a taste of what we experienced and saw. I am going to start with the volunteer house.
Malambe Cottage, Nkope Hills, Mangochi, Malawi, Africa
That was the address of where I lived for almost 3 weeks. The cottage was really a large bungalow with 7 bedrooms, some en-suite, a huge dining/sitting room, and a kitchen and pantry. The property was fenced and stood in well-maintained gardens. The cottage sat right on the shore of Lake Malawi and had fantastic views over the water. Our bedroom was comfortable and had an en-suite shower room. It was at the far end of the house and had 2 single beds and a couple of storage units. The beds had mosquito nets and mosquito nets were up at the windows instead of glass!
Water for the house came directly from the Lake so we drank it and got washed in it. Before it got to us though it had been filtered and water for drinking was also boiled for 10 minutes then cooled in the fridge. Hot
water was available via a geezer in the house which needed to be switched on before the water heated up.
Food was prepared by Gerald the chef at the house. He made an excellent effort every day to make sure we had a balanced diet with plenty of choice. Breakfast was always served at 6.30am since most of the morning projects started at 8am. Breakfast consisted of toast, pancakes or eggs with local tea and coffee and squash. Lunch was sandwiches, salad or pancakes and the evening meal was always varied and included cottage pie, chicken, beef, pasta and a vegetarian choice for those of us who didn't eat meat. Fruit was available most days and we were able to supplement our diet with chocolate and crisps from the supermarket when it was visited once a week. There was also a fridge full of beer and fanta at the house which we could buy if we fancied spoiling ourselves.
The house had a number of staff, including Gerald the chef, Kingsley the project coordinator, Martha the housekeeper and Sophie the translator. They were all local people who were employed by the charity. There was also a couple of
gardeners, 2 night watchmen and Sam the minibus driver. There was also a dog at the house - a typical African mutt called Scrappy-Doo who was taken in by staff at the house when he was a puppy and luckily for him (and us) he was jabbed against rabies and other potentially nasty diseases.
The cottage stood on a decent plot of land right on the shore of Lake Malawi. You could hear the waves lapping on the shore from the house. It really was a perfect place to stay and the views of the Lake from the back of the cottage were spectacular. Both the sun-rises and sunsets were a sight to see and we often sat and watched the constant activity on and around the water.
The gardeners did a really good job of keeping the gardens tidy and every morning and afternoon the grass was watered by rotating hosepipes. There was a lot of trees and flowering bushes which made the garden more attractive at the front and back of the cottage. The front was where we did our hand-washing and where the washing-line was and there was a sweeping drive to the front gate.
The front of the property was fenced, although there was a gap in it which allowed goats in who often tried to graze on the lush grass (until Scrappy chased them away!). Probably the only negative thing to say about the gardens was the ants - they were everywhere and were totally annoying.
There wasn't a tv or radio at the house and internet access was sporadic and sometimes quite slow, but it was a luxury I didn't expect so I made use of it as often as I could to keep in contact with home. The house was clean and tidy and a comfortable base during our stay in Malawi. If I am honest, it was a lot more luxurious than I ever imagined it would be!
There are more photos below