Friday, September 11, 2009

Fish:The Good and the Bad

Malawi has continued to hold true to its claim of being "the warm heart of Africa" as we continued on from Lilongwe over the past few days. From the capital we traveled east to the town of Monkey Bay situated on the shores of Lake Malawi. Although we were told it was called Monkey Bay because there were actually a lot of monkeys, we never saw any. From there we hopped a Malawian taxi, or an overflowing flatbed truck, for the additional 15 bumpy miles to Cape Maclear.

Cape Maclear is a small, hot, dusty town; not much different from many other African villages we have visited. However, once you make your way through the fish market you arrive at the source of its existence, Lake Malawi. Cape Maclear's shores give way to impossibly clear water and islands that bear a resemblance to the West Indies.

We camped on the beach here for two days and were talked into snorkeling with a new Scottish friend. After a quick kayak out to one of the nearby islands we plunged into incredibly serene waters packed with what is said to be the highest diversity of fish anywhere in the world. Thousands of brightly colored fish, and the occasional crab, painted a picture more resembling the Great Barrier Reef than central Africa. We were rewarded for our challenging day on the water with an incredible sunset and an evening watching the Scottish soccer team with one of their world famous fans.

We reluctantly pulled ourselves away from Cape Maclear the next day and hopped another flatbed to Monkey Bay and another from there to Mangochi. Mangochi was not exactly representative of the Malawi we had come to know. Drunken men everywhere berated us with incredibly colorful American slang before ripping their shirts off and getting into an amusing slap-fight with each other. Fortunately we made it out of Mangochi without getting slapped ourselves and headed for Blantyre. The unfortunate part was the two massive bags of fish that were crammed into our van. We were nauseated but were redeemed when even the Malawians we were riding with couldn't stand the stench.

We arrived in Blantyre last evening and found our way to a popular bar/restaurant/campground. Blantyre is the financial capital of Malawi but you would never know how important the city is by simply walking the streets. They are absent of any sort of street vendors and almost eerily quiet, even during midday. Much to our liking we immediately stumbled upon an Ethiopian restaurant where we have already become favorite regulars.

The next step in our journey will be a bit more complicated than Malawi has been. We will be moving on to Maputo, Mozambique via a transportation system that we were warned is nearly nonexistent.

Although Malawi has been amazing, we are excited to get back to the coast!

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