I just wanted to report on the first week of vacation, since so much has happened so far! We began with an adventurous trek to Lake Malawi, 11hours, 3 buses and the last hour in the back of a truck, arriving finally at 10pm! But it was all worth it, because the Lake was absolutely beautiful. Pure grey sand, crystal clear water, and green mountains jutting up all around. We rode in a dug out canoe across the bay to snorkel in a rocky area with colorful fish, and to visit a remote village where the people specialize in pottery making. This was one of the most incredible village experiences I have had, because the people obviously hadn't had much exposure to white people or the outside world, especially the children, but were still very friendly and welcoming.
The "resort" where we stayed didn't have much to offer as far as food or activities, but the newly built red roofed cottages were very clean and comfortable. The light, smells, and feel of the place reminded me so much of summer camp! We spent three full relaxing days on the beach, swimming, reading, and eating incredibly yummy mangoes, bananas, pineapples, and several other unusual and unknown fruits!
We celebrated Christmas Eve with a South African couple who were camping there, and had their campsite all decorated with homemade foil garland and ornaments, and wreaths and candle holders made out of tree branches, fruits and pinecones. They also made chocolate cake over the camp fire and had an entire array of hor'dourves. "What would you like to drink?", they asked. "We have tequila, rum, vodka, gin, beer, and red wine." It was a great Christmas!
On Christmas Day morning, we got a ride back to Mbeya in a super SUV with 4 Chinese guys, all engineers working for the roads department. We had very interesting conversations, covering a broad range of topics from Tiananmen Square and democratic reform in China to of course basketball! And what made it even more interesting were that these conversations were in three languages: Chinese, English and Swahili! They took us out for Christmas dinner at a 70s decor hotel where we ate chicken curry.
Yesterday Carolyn and I hiked to the top of one of the nearest mountains around Mbeya, and this afternoon are boarding a bus to Lusaka, Zambia, where we will get another bus to the town of Livingstone. The adventure continues...