Katja Lachmann


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Trip to Monkey Bay

Starting on Sunday, 29th August 2004, at 5:45 a.m. catching a mini-bus from Ngabu to Blantyre I arrived in Blantyre at 8:20 a.m. Once in Blantyre I needed to check Internet for a short time again as I did not know when I will find access again.

At around 9:30 a.m. I catched a mini-bus to Mangochi. Arriving in Limbe, suddenly the bus emptied and just 2 people were left. Thus somebody opened the back of the mini-bus taking all items out, including my backpack, putting it into another car. I was alarmed and asked why the guy did take my backpack. The guy was already busy putting the backpack in the other mini-bus that I did not know where it is going to. Thus I asked the driver in the mini-bus I was still sitting and was told that the mini-bus will not go to Mangochi. The reason was that they had to few customers and it would not pay off for them. Thus I got my money back, the driver helped me to get my backpack out of the other car that was not going in my direction and left me at the bus station in Limbe. He showed me a guy telling me to be his friend and explaining that he, too, wants to go to Mangochi. Thus I started a talk with him, found out his journalist and had a small nice chat.

Short after a man came over searchin people for the mini-bus to Mangochi. I had a terrible place to sit, the person that collects people and money right in front of my eyes, steadily being hit by his arm in the face and sitting in a position that only could hold me because the bus was extremely full. I had to bear this situation about 45-60 minutes until some people got off and I could change to a seat. It was not so much better but at least I was not hit anymore with an arm into my face and I could lean back.

Arriving somewhen at 1 p.m. in Mangochi, I decided to go on to Monkey Bay. Acutally, I planned to go to Cape Maclear the same day, but I could not take it at the end. Taking the mini-bus in Mangochi I had to wait about 1 hour until it left the bus station. I arrived in Monkey Bay at 4 p.m. and still thought I can make it to Cape Maclear. Arriving there I had to take a truck to Cape Maclear but there were no people. In Africa, when there are no people at a truck, you are sure to wait up to 3 or 5 hours to get the car full. As they do not go to late because it is dark from 6 p.m. I did not see a chance to arrive in daylight in Cape Maclear. That would mean no chance to search accomodation and the risk to be mugged. Thus I decided to stay in Monkey Bay for one night. At the bus station I found a guide that brought me to 'Venice Beach Camp' (or sth like that). It was about 30-40 minutes walk, although he said it is just 15 minutes ... well, I knew that before as Africans have a different value for time ;) The reason I went with him was that he told me about a German couple that arrived the day before in Venice Beach Camp. He described them and I was sure it is Stefan and Swantje that I have met in Vilanculo, Mozambique. That is why I did not stay in the village but let me bring to the Venice Beach Camp. Arriving there they had left already. Pity, but that is how it goes.

Trying to arrange my leaving the next morning, I went to the bar and found lots and lots of children, youngsters and some women and men dancing all around the beach and the bar. Loud, loud music, happy people and dancing, dancing, dancing...It is really amazing how already the small children, maybe 3 years old, can dance so good! I was so happy to see all of them dancing that I could not hold on but started dancing with the children. Whatever I did, however I danced, they did the same :P It was real fun, but after a short time I was so tired that I stopped dancing. I mean, I did that day a trip of 10 hours in mini-buses, slept just 5 hours the night before and really needed a break.

Leaving to my tent intenting to have a shower I met Ray. Ray was giving me and Becky a lift from Maputo to Tofo (Mozambique). We have been on the road together for two days and it was great to meet him again. As he just brought two desperate travelers to Venice Beach Camp as they could not find a place to stay. Once meeting him he invited me to participate the BBQ being prepared at some of his friends places. I said yes, packed all my shower stuff, fresh and clean clothes and went with him through the darkness of Monkey Bay.

Arriving at the lodge were the BBQ should take place, I met a couple I have met up on Mount Mulanje, the big mountain in Mulanje in the South of Malawi. It was just fantastic. I took a nice, cold shower, had a great chat with all the people there and was very hungry waiting for the BBQ. I had have just breakfast at 5 a.m. and nothing else. Thus I was very hungry!!! At 10 p.m. BBQ was ready and I had a talk with Birgit, the person running the lodge (I think). Very soon I found out that she is the German girl, that is living in Australia, going back to work in Australia every year for a few months, being able to come back to Malawi and fund scholarships for secondary school children. She is actively doing this for a couple of years. I have heard about her already in Germany before I went to Africa. She was amazed about that and seeminly happy.