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Published: January 4th 2010
Project holiday denial - this was my goal all through the holidays. It is WAY too HOT to be Christmas time! Instead, I decided to pretend I was just on summer vacation. Here is what I did:
Well, first I had to show up in Lilongwe a few days early because I was sent a message that there were some problems with my proposal - mainly the location of the PLHIV Resource Centre. So, Melanie and I paid MK400 for a bike taxi to the river, crossed, and were picked up by some of her VSO peers and taken to Blantyre. Because we had private transport I managed to finally get a picture on the bridge over the Shire River. Then, because Mel was talking about taking the Executive Axa, I decided to shell out a little more money to travel to Lilongwe 'in style.' Unfortunately, I jinxed myself (and everyone else on the bus) by telling someone that the Couch Axa was the 'most reliable way to travel in Malawi'. Of course it would get a flat before Zalewa (about an hour out of Blantyre) and break down TWICE at Ntcheu (about halfway to Lilongwe). Therefore, what would have
been a 4 hour ride actually turned into a 10 hour ride. Oh well.
Despite this, Friday December 18th I was still able to manage to sort out my grant issues... Unfortunately it gave me too much time on the free internet to do some facebook stalking and download trailers of movies that I wont see until July... Mavuto. Kory and I managed to hitch up to Nkhata Bay to try to get a boat to Chizimulu Island. However, we had a little trouble with transport and hit a dead zone in Kasungu were we were stranded for a while. Not fun. I got a little pink from the sun (which isn't supposed to happen BEFORE you get to the beach!).
We arrived to the island safely, however. It was neat. The Ilala doesn't arrive to Chizimulu Island until the middle of the night, and as far as I can tell, also leaves at the same time. Not fun. If you have the money it is best to sit 1st class - pitch a tent on the deck - instead of being CRAMMED in economy. I almost had a super claustrophobic attack on this boat.
an awesome way to spend Christmas (even tho it rained). We stayed at Wakwenda, and it was great. It was very quiet and very BEAUTIFUL. Wakwenda is the only place to stay - I think - on this island, and it doesn't get as much traffic as Likoma Island so it was cool. The girls and I even snorkeled some and took out a canoe (and Kory took out a kayak) and it was awesome. It was a great place to just relax. And the food was excellent. The owner even invited us over to his house when it started raining to watch movies. So nice!
Kory and I originally were going to catch the Ilala from Nkhata Bay to Ruarwe after Christmas, but because of fuel issues the Ilala heading north was very unreliable. Instead I met up with Kelly, a few travelers and doctors and we made our way up to Livingstonia instead. Because there were eight of us we called and hired the Mushroom Farm's car to come down and get us ($45 - there are no forms of public transportation that go the 10km up the mountain to the Mushroom Farm, and we didn't arrive
at the turn-off in Chitimba until after 3pm). The Mushroom Farm was also great. Kelly and I camped for something like MK600 a night, and even tho it rained it only flooded in our tent a little bit 😊 The last night Kelly decided to go all out and pay for a room. It really was one of the coolest places I have been in Malawi. We met a couple that was running the place while the normal owner Mick was out of the country, they are here til April and soo cool. It was relaxed with a place to cook (or you can order food), a bar, a nice grass-roofed place to hang out, lots of hammocks, and these cool compost toilets (sooo Peace Corps).
The first full-day we were there it rained, so we hiked up to Livingstonia town the second day. Here there is a small museum and restaurant, as well as a cool church and a neat little store that is supposed to benefit an orphanage. It was weird to see colonial buildings on top of a random mountain in Malawi. On our way back down we stopped by to see the waterfall. Apparently there
are caves too, but we didn't have time to go into them - Next time!
A group of us then hiked back down the mountain to leave. Of course, because there were a lot of bends in the road, we wanted to take a lot of shortcuts, so me and the other girl wearing sandals came to the road completely covered in dirt from slipping and falling along the wet paths (not that I can entirely blame my clumsiness on my shoes). I am sure we were a sight! Kelly and I made it back to Nkhata Bay on the 31st just in time to celebrate with some other PCVs at Big Blue.
I had made reservations here through the 2nd of January, so Cathy, Brian and I left then for Nkhotakhota Pottery on Saturday. Here we met up with one of our fellow volunteers who was going home. We swam a little, ate lots of food, and passed out exhausted from the travel. Yesterday I made it back to Lilongwe in time to see the office today in order to follow up on my grant. I hope to be back at site tomorrow to prepare for the
rumored students that are to start the 11th... I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!!!
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