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Published: November 1st 2013
Just a mere 14 hours on the bus from Lilongwe to Nkhata Bay but it was certainly worth it. I won't delve too much into the bus journey as I'm sure you can imagine the scenario. As if the journey wasn't long enough, President Joyce Banda decided to close the roads to allow her 35 vehicle convoy through. Now I don't wish to start a political debate, but for a President who has sold the government jet and cut her own wage, it seems strange she required such an escort at huge costs!
Having arrived late in the evening, I quickly met some of the volunteers here at Butterfly Space where I will be staying for some time and was given a very warm welcome. I was too tired to enjoy a beer though and headed off to my dorm which sleeps 6 people and is of a decent size.
I've been here roughly 2 weeks now and this town is just stunning. The lodge straddles the lake so at any point in the day one can take a refreshing swim to cool off from the intense heat. Nkhata Bay has a population of roughly 15,000 and is a
popular destination with travellers due to it's splendid scenery. The town itself is all about the lake and it supports the livelihoods of many families who live here. Lake Malawi is also a freshwater lake and the 9th biggest lake in the world - despite Malawi being an extremely poor country, at least a large percentage of the population have access to fresh drinking water. That can't be said for much of Sub Saharan Africa.
Moving on to my first morning at Butterfly, I can still remember waking up roughly 2 weeks ago to some view with the sun beating down on the lake - stepping out on the veranda with the lake a mere 15 yards away was quite something. Butterfly Lodge has slowly developed over the past few years and it is now home to quite a few buildings. These include a bar, a couple of chalets, two dorms, kitchen and dining area and media/internet room. Here at Butterfly they run community development projects, reaching out the local people to try and introduce new skills and sessions for them. They reach out to so many from educating young children, running sports team to working with women with
HIV/AIDS - the work they do is very inspiring.
Since arriving, I have slowly been acclimatizing to the heat but with that said, 30 plus is still awfully hot so it may take some time. At least I can jump in the lake at any given moment though. I've slowly been introduced to the various projects that are running here and I am now starting to get more involved with the ongoings here.
On the project front, I've re-established links with the local primary school in the hope of running a school football team. So far so good as the two sessions I have run have been well attended. The school have a 2 pm til 4 pm slot on the main football pitch in town so a pitch is always available which is good. I just wish they had booked the pitch later in the day as it is extremely hot playing at that time of day. Anyway - I'm sure I'll live. Secondly, I've started a travel and nature film night on a Wednesday and Sunday which hasn't taken off yet but hopefully with some more advertising it might entice some of the local children down
In the coming weeks, I hope to start introducing P.E to the school at Butterfly to occupy the kids break time and there is also plenty of painting to do which I have made a start on. With every passing day, there is always more than can be done so I'm sure my daily dairy will become much busier.
Nkhata Bay - the town
The town is very compact and is comprised of just a few streets. There is everything you would expect to see plus the market. Market day is Monday and Tuesday and the town is rather crowded on these days. Fruit is plentiful and very cheap and so far I have been eating lunch in town to save money. Whilst saving money for other trips I have in mind, I am also providing some of the local people with some custom which I am conscious of doing whilst I am here. Nkhata Bay has been compared with the Caribbean and I can see why. The town is surrounded by lush hilly landscapes with the lake providing a perfect setting, perhaps it's no wonder that people come here for 2 days and stay
The food at Butterfly is extremely good given the facilities and the regular power cuts and it is also cheap which is pleasing. For breakfast, there are a number of meals available ranging from a full English at 1800 Kwacha (£2.50), to toast and spreads which is just 450 Kwacha (75p). Evening meals change on a daily basis and there is always a meat/veggie option on offer. So far, I've had pizza, tortilla, butterfish and rice, chilli con carne etc - all very tasty! Evening meals are 2000 Kwacha which is extremely good value.
A beer costs 500 Kwacha (95p) - I've only had a couple!
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