Hello and welcome to the new year.
I’ve been quiet, pondering life and love and everything in between. I have happily made it into 2018 and I am thrilled that you here with me. My first post for the year is a bit of a homage to home. Home being, the place that birthed me, that birthed my parents, my grandparents and those before them. Can you tell that I am that person that believes in the power of ancestry and lineage?
Travelling is not only about going to new countries it’s also discovering and rediscovering the places that I already know; rediscovering Joburg and Pretoria. Taking shot lefts in the rest of Mzansi, and, rediscovering home. I was lucky to visit my family in Malawi over the festive season in 2017 and took the opportunity to explore a piece of my backyard.
If you don’t know, Malawi is a small country of about 18 million inhabitants in south east Africa. Our official indigenous language is Chewa. It is also one of the least developed countries in the world with high rates of poverty and inequality. But, (and this is a big but) it is also breathtakingly, naturally beautiful. You will rarely meet a people that will swing their doors wide open to you and welcome you in, to share what they have, like we will. If you want untainted beauty and the warmth of genuine spirits, you’ll find it in Malawi, or as it is fondly named, The Warm Heart of Africa.
I took a two and half hour flight from Johannesburg to Lilongwe (the capital city of Malawi) and was pleasantly surprised to see a couple of upgrades beings done to the airport since the last time I visited in 2016. The drive from Lilongwe to my final destination (Monkey Bay on the lake shore) was about 4 hours on a single lane highway. The drive would maybe be faster were it not for limited speed for fear of hitting livestock crossing to graze on the other side of the road, or stray dogs and chickens running across the road. Along the way you’ll come across multiple villages, some of which have roadside markets for fresh produce. Stop here. You will find the sweetest potatoes and juiciest mangoes you’ve ever tasted. You’ll also find woven goodies ( baskets and mats) being delicately woven by men and women sitting under the shade of a large tree.
Monkey Bay is a port town in the District of Mangochi, in the Southern Region of Malawi. A visit to the ferry dock will lift your nautical spirit. Wander around the dock, or get a guided tour of the ships. If you have time and would like an adventure, the Ilala (passenger vessel) departs from Monkey Bay transporting passengers to various destinations along the shore; one being Likoma island where you can snorkel or dive in pristine waters.
Not far from the dockyard is a lodge that’s nestled in an enclave of rocks creating a picturesque backdrop. The lodge is simple, ecofriendly, well-kept and welcoming. We spent an afternoon here, basking in the sun, swimming and sipping on Malawi Gin. While we’re on this topic, Malawi Gin is proudly homemade, smooth, fragrant and affordable. Also, the new packaging is right up there with international standards.
On one of the afternoons, my family and I organised a small boat for a cruise on the lake. The water was calm, making our trip a smooth sail. We tempted fish eagle by throwing sardines into the water and awed as they took flight and descended to majestically feed. Time spent gawking at the wonders of nature is time well spent. After passing a fishing village, hidden between the hills and the lake, we found a small piece of beach to stop for a dip. Fun fact about me – I like water (I am after all, the so called water-bearer) BUT I am not a big fan of swimming. So I can dip in, spend ten or so minutes swimming and I am done, ready to lay on my towel, lounge and watch everyone else continue their frolicking about. On our way back to dock, I air-dried whilst perched atop the boat, that was cleverly constructed from bamboo like sheeting.
Nothing says a perfect ending to a day quite like, a bonfire on the beach on a starlit night. The crackling of the embers was drowned out by the sound of the bluetooth speaker from which we were playing afro beats. We danced in the night, laughed at each other’s awkward moves and basked in the simplicity in which we had found joy.
I am ever thankful for the place that I am from. I am ever thankful that I can go back there and come back to my other home feeling refreshed and renewed. So here I am ready to take on this new year.
Thank you for reading and wishing you a successful 2018.