It was my intention not to post this morning, but the thought of disappointing those of you who have been so sweet as to follow me here was too much…so here it is…
I was picked up around 10 by Guy who is a friend of Andrew’s and who owns the Kumbali Lodge here in Malawi. I was to spend the day with him visiting his new lake property and also Kuti Wildlife Park which is on the way to the lake. It’s about an hour and half drive from Lilongwe. As I said yesterday I was told Guy had a car that takes Diesel so we would be fine as far as fuel went. We set off and quickly I learned that Guy has lived in Malawi and driven in Malawi to long. He drives faster than anyone I have ever met and the weaving in and out and around people on the street was nail biting.
We talked the entire way and between his cell phone and our conversation I was worried at every turn. Exciting drive to say the least…half way down I made the comment about the diesel and Guy was surprised I had been given that information…it wasn’t true. His car runs on petrol and he laughed and said I hope we find some at the lake or we won’t make it back. So here I am with Guy on the way to lake and now wondering not only if I would survive the drive, but if I would make it back to Lilongwe that evening. We made it to Kuti and were able to see the new accommodations there; unfortunately there wasn’t anyone to share the community projects with me that surround the area. Andrew has told me he can fill me though and mostly just wanted me to see how the progress was going at the park, then off to see Guy’s property at the lake where he is building a camp there for visitors. It is at the beginning stages, but is a beautiful spot. The lake is always so pretty. I saw the chalets he is building and we were served a nice lunch under the trees near the lake.
Toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches, chips and cabbage salad.
The flies were horrible, but the view and the company made lunch very enjoyable. He took me down to the privet beach where is building a bar and where he will house his boat so tourists can set out on the lake and feed the fish eagles. To our surprise we found fresh hippo droppings….Guy was excited, I was not….here we were in a remote spot and now we may have a hippo to deal with! I started walking back up the hill and Guy ventured further into the tall grass to see if he could find the Hippo’s path. Before long he reappeared told me he had a bit of business to tend to with some of his workers there at the lake and would I wait.
I waited at the camp, met the woman who was doing our lunch dishes. She spoke NO English so we just smiled at each other while I watched her struggle to bend over the washing bucket with a baby on her back. After a few min I went over and gestured that I would hold the baby. The little boy was sweet as he could be, soft skin, wrapped in a cloth with another smaller cloth on his tush as his diaper. I sat holding him there by the lake enjoying the view and enjoying having a little one on my lap. One of the workers climbed up the hill and told me Guy was ready to leave to I handed back the baby and hiked down the hill where we had left the car. Off we went (hopefully) back to Lilongwe.
Back into the car the white knuckling began again…fast and furious down the bumpy dirt road, bump … bump … Guy talking loudly me hoping for survival not just for me but for the people on the street….the herd of cattle we managed to divide, the goats that were running in front of the car…etc….etc….hard to explain, but a wild ride for sure. Once we hit the paved road the speed increased and there we were hauling down the way towards home. This has proven to be the most beautiful time of year that I have ever travelled in Malawi. Everything is so green and so lush, the dirt is so red and against the beautiful blue sky it is stunning! While praying for my survival I was able to enjoy the view.
About half way back I finally felt I knew Guy well enough to voice a little of my concern (on a side not at the beginning of the drive when Guy found out my age and that i had 2 children and a husband he was shocked! He took me for 26 so he went up the ladder of people i like quickly despite his driving) I said to Guy ” Guy I have to ask…in your 20 years living here in Malawi have you ever hit anyone” his response was “never”…it was just after that that I noticed a slight decrees in the speed and Guy turned to me and said “now Erin I’m afraid you may have just cursed me” So Guy driving a bit slower (not much) and him now being worried I was going to cause him to hit his first Malawian because of my big mouth we travelled on….I now could see the tobacco auction house in the distance which meant we were just a few miles from town…we had almost made it…..the gas tank on empty, but both of us having faith we would make it. Passing through the last little village before Lilongwe, hauling down the road and SMACK!!!!!
Guy hit a chicken dead on! Not just a foot or a wing we hit that chicken right in the gut…bump…and off we went both of us roaring with laughter, me almost in tears at the situation…Guy yelling the “THE CURSE IS BROKEN” and “I GUESS SOMETHING HAD TO DIE ON THIS TRIP” tears rolling down my face and both of us just wailing with laughter hardly able to speak we rolled into Lilongwe…just as we did a beautiful rainbow appeared over the road and Guy and I and the car with no fuel passed under it.
He asked if I wanted to be dropped at Andrew’s house or if I would come up to the lodge and join him and his wife for dinner. I accepted the invite for dinner since Andrew and his wife had plans that evening and I knew if I went home I would be alone and stuck there with not much to do. He then said the lodge wasn’t full and I was welcome to a room for the night so nobody would need to pick me up, and since fuel is in short supply that was the best thing to do.
I was treated to a wonderful dinner, an amazing room (one of the best lodges in Lilongwe) and felt a bit like a queen…repayment in part for the wild ride yesterday for sure.
I woke this morning came over to Guy and his wife’s house for a cup of coffee and a look over the landscape. It is so quiet here and just amazing to look out over the mountains and hills. The clouds were low and covered the ground below us, but the trees were popping out and the tops of the mountains I could still see….I’ll take a few pictures. This farm where the lodge and the village are is on 1500 acres.
I’m meeting this morning at 10 with Andrew his brother and Guy to finalize the plan for June and months to come. Can’t believe its home tomorrow…the long flight is on my mind, but I’m going to try to enjoy the last bit of time I have and then worry about that long flight. So excited to see my girls and Patrick!!!!
Love to all who continue to keep up with me here…your words always make my day brighter.