Katja Lachmann


Letters |augustas|

Letters | katja |

Tips & Tricks

Guest Book




Monkey Bay & Trip to Cape Maclear

In the morning I packed all my stuff preparing to leave to Cape Maclear. I passed by Birgit's place again and she gave me some information about her project and work in Malawi. She sent me an email, too, and as soon as I worked this out I might let you know more about it.

Coming to the 'truck' station the truck was empty, just a couple of women sitting beside the car. That meant waiting for a long time and I think after about 2 hours the truck left to Cape Maclear. It was pretty uncomfortable as I was holding the whole weight of my body with my arms and this during 1 hour going to Cape Maclear. It is a very dusty road and not quite easy to take. A lot of ups and downs as well as curves. Arriving in Cape Maclear I was ordered to get out of the truck in Chembe village. I had to walk to the campsite I was planning to stay at. Usually, the truck brings you directly to the lodge or campsite, but as there have not been enough customers going that direction, I was put off. Then immediately a guy started to talk trying to convince me of showing the way to Emmanuels where I was supposed to stay. He was completely drunk but was telling all the time that I can trust him. His name is Kevin. I did not believe him any word but I did not have much choice than to let me guide from him. Happily, there was a woman with daughter from Mulanje visiting her family in Cape Maclear. She did not know the way neither, thus I felt better walking with that drunk guy to the campsite. It was about 20 minutes walk and I arrived safely at Emmanuels.

In Emmanuels I planned to camp as it was the cheapest and for me cleanest opportunity. I was shown basic accomodation for 250 MKW (about 2,30 $), but entering and watching the top of the room let me decide not to stay in one of the beds. Moreover, there have not been mosquito nets. When starting to built up my tent I was told that I could have the better rooms, which have a price of 500 MKW (4,5 $), for 250 MKW. I had a look inside but I felt better to have my own space in my tent. At last, it was the cheapest with 150 MKW (1,40 $).

Staying at Emmanuels was ok, but not special. Especially, they had a lack of water although they have been directly on the beach. Most campsites and lodges on Lake Malawi are supposed to take the water for showers from the lake. That is what I was told of and that is how it was in Emmanuels. But instead of pumping water up to the showers, the women living there had to carry the water on their heads from the lake to the showers. Behind the showers there was something they filled it in and so I could take a shower. Usually, they forgot to do it thus you had to wait a long time for having a shower. Sometimes, I had to ask for water. The same problem occurred with the toilet that was stinky as it hardly had water. And to wash hands...Well, but anyway I thought it to be ok. I liked the bar and that there were actually no tourists but a french couple. This couple was making movies with interviewing local people. They asked them to answer the question what has priority in their life. Later they plan to make a movie out of it, maybe a kind of documentation. As the guy was a cameraman in real life he had the whole equipment needed to produce that. His wife was helping in all that. Actually, they told me to travel around the world for 14 months. It is kind of their honey moon as they got married just 3 months ago.

I was supposed to go by boat the second day out to one of the Islands and do snorkeling. Unfortunately, I did not feel well the next morning thus I canceled. I have not done it later and I was fine with that as I heard that it was not that special as they 'beach boys' claim it to be. The french couple walked up to the National Park on Cape Maclear that you could reach within 20 minutes walk on the beach. They went there at 7 in the morning thus they entered the park for free. As I was suggested to do the same but could not get up so early, I went one day in the afternoon there. Before I have met an Italian telling me that they asked for an entrance fee of 5 $ to enter the National Park. I thought I give it a try just to go there and see if there will be anybody to ask me the fee. Passing through some invisible line a man called after me and came over. He said that he is from the National Park and has to ask me a fee for entering. I said, 'I did not know that, I am just walking here as the french couple staying at Emmanuels told me it is nice here.' Though he was asking me the fee. I added, 'Well, then just let me take a photo from here of the Islands', as it was possible to catch both in one picture from that point. Then he said, 'I have to ask my boss if you can do that as you entered already the park.' I was waiting and as an answer I was allowed to enter the park for free. The reason was that it was already late and the time for watching animals successfully in the park has been gone. Thus I could enter for free with the explanation that I sould come the next morning and pay the fee in the National Park office. I did not do as I knew I will leave the next morning.

I enjoyed being in the National Park although I have not seen more than a few monkeys and a few blue fishes. It was not too bad as I like nature so much. There were good views and I was enjoying taking one after another photo. After 1,5 hour there they sun started to set and I tried to wait until it becomes a nice red color. Being alone in the National Park, the evening coming, I could not wait too long. I was scared that I could not find the way back and monkeys will start to tease me. Thus I left before the sun set. Anyway, it was great to be in the park, especially because I did not pay 5 $ entrance fee ;P

When coming back a bunch of Spanish people had arrived in Emmanuels. Oh, was I happy! I love Spanish language and after 6 months since coming back from Spain my heart started jumping for joy ;P We very soon got to talk a lot with each other. They were asking if Emmanuels was ok to stay at and I agreed. Actually, I did as I have experienced worse conditions as it was with the water supply in Emmanuels. Thus they stayed and later on they invited me for dinner. They had the whole equipment for cooking. So sitting in the bar, they started to cook. It was very nice pasta with sardines. I shared the tomato, onions and bread I had with them and so everybody was happy about the delicious meal. We sat there for a long time, playing something and talking, talking, talking...I was invited to join them the next morning up to Senga Bay and one day later to Lilongwe. Before I was so worried about how to catch the bus in Monkey Bay to Lilongwe, where I had to get back to from Cape Maclear. Now the question was gone.

The next morning, the 6 Spanish went to the smaller of the Islands and enjoyed snorkeling and watching fishes. They were supposed to have lunch afterwards on the Island and then coming back. At around 1:30 p.m. they were back and we wanted to start. As I was still wearing my slippers I took them off, opened the backpack and put them inside. When closing I touched the little bag inside the backpack to assure myself that everything is on the right place. I stopped breathing. I opened the little back and I found out that my mobile phone was gone. I was shocked. I was shocked as I did not know how it could have happened. My thoughts began running, my heart beating and my mind producing ideas who could have stolen it. I searched my backpack in hope it was not stolen and I just put it on a different place, or maybe it has fallen out when I was putting my toothbrush inside. No way, it was gone. I was sure I have had it when opening the backpack for about 5-10 min at around 11 a.m. I did it in the bar in front of the barman to assure that I am safe opening my backpack. I had to put jam and some other small things that I had to arrange on the table. During these 5-10 min the backpack was open. I was standing beside it being sure that it was safe. Too sure...

...I was thinking of Stephen, the beach boy that was always around trying to make business with boat transfers, making pancakes in the morning, trying to arrange transport...but I thought, 'How can that be? Why him?' We really became kind of "friends" during the time I was staying at Cape Maclear.

At the beginning I distrusted him due to the fact that I have seen so many of these beach boys in Monkey Bay and Cape Maclear being drunk. He was sitting during the first meeting in the bar in Emmanuels with a beer, thus I was very sceptical. Later on I found out that he really tries to make business, but seems to be a good person, not willed to do anything else than making big money with selling business and service. He came in the morning to Emmanuels, telling me with a worried voice that the family, with which he wanted me to leave to Lilongwe (and make a little profit by arranging that), had gone in the night. The reason was there child haven broken one leg. He was hold to prepare 7 pancakes for them in the morning and when he arrived they had gone. It was nobody's fault but he had spent money for doing the pancakes with bananas and now it was lost as he could not sell them anymore. He asked me to buy all 7 pancakes. I explained Stephen that it is impossible as I will not be able to eat 7 of them. I offered him to buy 2 and suggested to sell the others at Fat Monkeys, another place to stay at Cape Maclear. I was eating them, already cold and not that tasty but I was hungry anyway. Stephen stayed, he seems to feel uncertain what to do with the pancakes. Moreover, he hopped I will tell the 6 Spanish to buy the rest of the pancakes. Thus he stayed.

When he came telling me the story about the pancakes, he was sitting beside me, or better saying, directly beside my backpack. When it turned out my mobile phone has gone I was wondering if he could have stolen it. I suspected him, as he was the closest to the backpack. As he ran off before I found out, telling me he leaves for 5 minutes as the Spanish want a name to be made in a piece of wood, I thought he might have used the chance to bring the mobile phone somewhere else. When leaving he was still concerned about his pancakes and looking at me in the hope I will sell them to my Spanish friends. When coming back I told him that I found out my mobile phone has gone and that I suspect him having solen it. He was shocked. He looked at me with big, big eyes ... I saw the disappointment in his eyes ... saying that he tried so hard to convince that he is one of the good boys, never intending to do anything bad than earning his money with business. I felt bad suspecting him and usually I can trust my feelings. Though I was uncertain what to do. He said, 'You cannot do that, you cannot suspect me, please Katja, I have not done that, I do not do these kind of things ...'. I wanted to believe him, I felt he could not have done it.

I rethought more and more the situation and found out that the barman Felix and his young brother where the only one, besides Stephen, haven been near my backpack. I spoke out that I suspect them, too, as these three are the only ones that could have stolen it. Felix, compared to Stephen, kept cool, did not like to look into my eyes, started to explain me things like, 'I have told you to give me all your valuables to put them in the safe. If you do not do you should not be surprised that it is stolen.' I said, 'Sorry, Felix, but is not it normal to take all valuables out of the safe to put them in a safe place into the backpack when leaving the campsite???' He repeated what he has said and I felt he only could have done it. The only thing I could not explain myself was, how he has done it and when. I always lock my backpack with padlocks, thus nobody can enter if not destroying either the padlocks or the backpack. After rethinking all the situation, I found out that Felix has come two times during these 5-10 min leaning over the table and so over my backpack, too. He was putting something on the table and so he could have used this to steal my mobile phone. But how did he know I have one? At the first day I was asked by him if I have a mobile phone. I said, 'NO!' I was wondering why he is asking, thus I kept it a secret. I never talked about having one, I never showed it to anybody but to the French couple that stayed at Emmanuels. When I had to recharge it I asked them in silence that nobody can hear if I could do that in their room. I took the mobile phone in a plastic bag that nobody can see I have one. And though, it was stolen. When opening the backpack and putting my toothbrush into it I put the mobile phone on the right position. It might have been the only opportunity he could have seen it and then stolen it. Another option is that he somehow could open the padlock. He took, without telling him so, my backpack behind the bar. I wondered why he does it as I did not leave the bar until the Spanish came back.

Of course, I went to the police, but sitting there, writing a report and asking afterwards what the police will do to find it, I got an answer from FELIX!, not from the police man, telling me, 'They have their own methods to find out...' At this very point I was 100% clear that only Felix could have stolen it. As I had to report the situation as it has happened I had to mention Stephens name. I regret I did and I wish nothing more than Stephen to have a good life.

One more thing that made me sure Stephen has not taken it was, that he was supposed to show me the house where the orphans live in Cape Maclear. I think he is a good man. The last doubts were taken when coming to Lilongwe. I stayed at Kiboko camp and met a Dutch couple. We were exchanging experiences and I did the one with the mobile phone. Without telling them any name they asked me if the beach boy with the pancakes was Stephen. It was Stephen and they told me, his is a good man ...

I would like to warn everybody intending to visit Cape Maclear to stay at Emmanuels. I do not want you to experience the same as me.