Malawi Part 5: Sunday

I had the whole of Sunday free, so Andrew – the president of Lilongwe Toastmasters club – kindly took me to see Lake Malawi, since as I was told, "you haven’t been to Malawi until you have been to the lake!"

P2240022So Sunday morning saw us bright and early off to the lake. Although the drive was only about an hour or so, you really start to feel that you are in rural Africa. We passed several road-side villages, with countless goats wondering across the road, and all manner of produce being sold on the side of the road – from live chickens to tobacco and vegetables.

When we arrived at the lake, I literally had my breath taken away. It is like standing on the shore of an ocean. The lake is staggeringly huge. What is even more remarkable is that the photos that I took are across the width of the lake, and you still cannot see the far shore! I even found a sign warning about dangerous rip-tides, which gives you an idea of the scale. If you ever have the opportunity, it is well worth the visit.

P2240026I would have loved to spend a few days at the lake, it is very tranquil (and also very hot – it was too hot to walk barefoot on the sand). But alas, I had to get back to Lilongwe in time for my flight back home.

We did manage to stop off at a road-side tourist shop. While I am not usually one for buying "African" curios – since we are swamped with them in Cape Town – this place had some really lovely items. Many of the goods were hand-carved, and the artists were busy at their carving on the side of the road. The prices are ridiculous cheap, and it is quite fun bartering with the traders. They started at a ridiculously high price, and I started with a ridiculously low offer, and we met somewhere in the middle (unlike in Mauritius where they start at a ridiculously high price and stay there).

P2240040I got back to Lilongwe airport in good time, and this is a really strange airport. These are all the processes that you go through to depart:

  1. Collect boarding card
  2. Pay USD 30 departure tax (no receipt)
  3. Customs official #1 checks that you have paid departure tax
  4. Customs official #2 checks all your paperwork
  5. Customs official #3 stamps your passport
  6. Security official #1 checks your bags through the x-ray machine
  7. Security official #2 opens one of your bags for security check (everbody – not just me), and leaves the other bag unchecked

So, I had to pass through seven people to board the aircraft – talk about creating employment! We left safely (and on time!), and I arrived back home exhausted, but very happy.

I had a fantastic weekend – Malawi is a country to visit for a few days.

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