Thursday, April 13th:
So we are at Lake Malawi now, but locals in Tanzania will tell you that they call it Lake Nyasa. It’s one of the top 10 largest lakes in the world and the third largest in Africa… the other two are also bordering Tanzania.
I woke up so relaxed and enjoying the sound of waves in our open air beach lodge. It’s so breezy here… windows everywhere. I love it but poor Sher is afraid of the sound of water while he sleeps and hates that we can hear the loud waves in our room at night. He says that he slept a lot better in Uyole at the Zion Home- the best he has slept in a long time. I’m really enjoying the eco concept of the Blue Canoe Lodges and the peaceful lake that looks like an ocean shore… it’s very Caribbean to me, but less busy. We took it easy in the morning, had breakfast at the lodge restaurant facing the waves, and tried to contact Daniel before he left. Luckily he came to us since his phone had died and there was no power where he was staying. We watched the waves for a while and sat while Brighton called a friend to bring a second motorbike so we could all go to the tiny village of Matema. I actually feel bad enjoying it out here so much while the kids are at the Zion house can’t be here to enjoy places like this. They do have it REALLY good compared to where they came from and compared to the average kid in these areas but really good for them is so different from what we are commonly used to in North America.
Eventually, the second bike came and we all three made it into Matema so that Daniel could find a ride to his next stop and I could browse the three clothing shops in town for a kitenge, a large cloth used to make a dress. Daniel had to leave so we said our goodbyes and then took my bright blue material to a tailor. We’ll see if it turns out! The total for the material and the tailoring will be less than about $16 USD which is really cheap for a custom made dress. It will be a bonus if I can wear it on the safari, too.
Then we left on a “pottery tour” which was more of a walk along the long beach with Brighton to meet a lady who makes pottery. On the way there, one of the funniest moments of our trip happened. I saw this little girl (under 2 years old) running happily naked in the sand but then she suddenly screamed like she had been hurt and crumbled to the ground, crying. Her mom ran to comfort her but she was inconsolable. I was worried that she had tripped and she was badly hurt but she was saying something that Brighton translated…. “White people!!” (in Swahili). Apparently, Sher and I scared her and that’s why she fell down screaming. She was afraid of us foreigners! I couldn’t stop laughing! Her mom carried her over to us to show her that we were nice but her screams got more piercing and her laughing mom had to stop forcing it. And I noticed that she watched us from behind the safety of her mom for a long time until we were out of sight! Hilarious! It’s so funny that all the locals here refer to us as white people… do they not see that we’re brown? I bet Sher has never been called a white guy in his life!
Back to the pottery…. We learned all about the importance of it and where to get the ingredients, watched and learned how to make it, tried our hands at it, and bought a mug that Brighton inscribed for my brother and his wife (they collect mugs). Then he took us on a mini hike to get some views and a pretty funny picture that he took of the grass, not Sher and me. Hehe he tried and he got it right eventually.
After the hike we went for lunch which cost about 10k TZ shillings, less than $5 USD for three of us! Brighton arranged for us to buy an entire fish that would be BBQ’d the local way for our dinner and said he’d pick us up at 8pm. We tried making a YouTube video of how to use the Scrubba laundry bag since I’d say we are pretty much experts now! The lighting wasn’t working and Sher had to book some hotels, etc so we’ll try again another time. Then we looked at the stars by the beach until Brighton arrived to take us on a night ride to Matema for dinner in the dark… all the power in town was out. Even though everyone says that Matema is totally safe, I felt a little creeped out eating in the dark room with a small lamp and looking out to see people walking in the dark streets. I was relived to come back to the Blue Canoe. Sher and I noticed that Brighton seems to know the guards here but he doesn’t seem that welcome and I think the feeling is mutual… it seems a bunch of the locals don’t click with the owners. The owner is a German man and his chatty Tanzanian wife who we met the first morning here. They are really well maintained and strict about only guests coming onto the perfectly manicured grounds (they made an exception for Daniel) and they charge a lot compared to other places here. I love that they are so good to the environment with solar heated water, organic composte toilets (cleaner than you’d think!), power only in the evenings, etc. They also donate locally… there’s a lot of info about what they do on their website. But local business owners probably find them overpriced and snotty, I’m not sure. You can definitely pick up on the tension both ways, though.
Tomorrow Brighton is taking us on a jungle hike to a waterfall that Daniel recommended. So we’ll need to go to sleep early to wake up in time!