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Calendar lake

December 23, 2009
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We’ve made it to Lake Malawi, a beautiful lake that in the short time we’ve been here has already shown us mirror calmness, wild stormy waves, the shimmering dance of sunlight and the slow bleed at sunset.

Lake Malawi is known as the ‘Calendar Lake’ because it’s 365 miles from top to bottom, 52 miles at its widest point and 12 main rivers flow into the lake.

It’s the third largest lake in Africa (ninth largest in the world) and contains over 1000 species of cichlid, 99% of which are found nowhere else. We’re hoping to dive into the lake near Lizard Island (named for its giant monitor lizards) tomorrow and take a closer look at the fish Nick used to keep in a tank as a child.

We’re staying in a lovely guesthouse called Cool Runnings – we’re actually staying in a parked-up caravan in the garden – run by a Zimbabwean called Samantha. She has involved herself completely in her adopted home and runs a number of fantastic projects here, including a clinic, a library and is now helping organise a tractor for local farmers. The prototype has just arrived from America and the community is trying it out now. 

We’re going to stay put here for the next few days over the holiday period and rest. Getting anywhere is anyway quite a mission: the local transport, matolas, which we arrived on, are smallish pickup trucks that are incredibly over stuffed with passengers and their wares, which make the equivalent transport services elsewhere seem spacious and comfortable in comparison. For the past 7 weeks, there’s been a fuel crisis in the country because the government has run out of foreign currency to pay for petrol or diesel, so it is only available at vastly inflated prices on the black market. So far, there’s no end in sight, so taxis are far too pricey for us.

The Malawi are wonderfully laid back, friendly people, who spend much of their time swimming playing and fishing in the lake. Which means tasty butterfish and catfish for our dinner. Yummy.

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