April 1, 2002 - Part 2
Yesterday, I went to Cobue, the biggest village nearby, and met the
Chef de Post (the government official for the area). It was a courtesy
stop to let him know who was running the "Mchenga Nkwichi School."
To get there by canoe with two of the staff. It was a 2-hour
canoe ride. We left at four and watched the sun rise over the hills
from the lake. It was amazing! I tried my best to keep up with the two
guys I was canoeing with, but we all laughed at how wet I kept getting
them when I paddled, and how little difference my efforts made. I spent
most of the trip admiring the view and complimenting my two rowers on
their strength. These people on the lake learn to canoe right after
they learn to walk. They have amazing strength and stamina.
The sunrises at 5:30 and sets at 6:30 (as in it is dark!). There isn't
much dawn or twilight just a quick 15 minutes. At night we use lanterns, and it is still very dark. The moon is
back though, which lights up the white sand path that leads to my chalet.
It is about a five-minute walk from my chalet to the dinning room, and
there is one lantern placed at the fork in the path halfway to my
I am in the office now, which is a mud building near the dinning
room. Baba, you kept calling this a compound, but that is the wrong
word. I guess it is a lodge, but it is a bush lodge. There is no main
building just a bunch of chalets, an office, a kitchen and a dinning
room, all connected by white sand paths. It is very Robinson Caruso-like.
If it is still unclear: Nadia, Patrick and Stuart are from the UK.
Patrick was born in Swaziland, because his dad used to work for the UN.
In fact, his dad's job sent Patrick all over Africa, and in many ways
Patrick is really African. Nula is Patrick’s old girlfriend. She is in Ireland recovering from malaria. She got very sick,
and was in a coma in Malawi for three days before they could fly her to
the UK. She cannot return here until she has fully recovered, and that
may be after I leave. It is very scary how sick she got. She wasn't
taking anything to prevent it. I am on Larium, which I take every
Friday. It gives me very vivid dreams, but so far there have been no
other bad side effects. My stomach that was troubled by it on my
previous Africa trips has been fine. So, I am planning on continuing
taking it until I leave.
My guitar again has been a great thing to bring along. I have no source
of music besides my guitar. I haven't used it any lessons yet, but I
did do a couple of lessons using the camp song called"I am going on a bear
hunt," but I adapted the lyrics slightly to fit their policy on conservation:
We are going on a bush walk.
I'm not scared.
I got my guide by my side
And my walking shoes!
Oh, oh! We came upon a tree.
Can't go over it.
Can't go under it.
Gotta go around it...
We went around the tree and continued our bush walk to the
waterfall, changing the objects the whole way. They loved
People here have no instruments, but they love to sing, and many are
eager to hear me play more guitar. I have even been invited to listen
to the church choir in Manda Buze, a nearby village. Nadia and Stuart
also play a bit of guitar, and Patrick used to sing in a band, so where
there is no music we will create music. I do catch a bit of Brittany
Spears or the Back Street Boys on Sunday BBC radio, but I almost would
prefer nothing to that. Can you imagine anything worse than having –
"Hit me baby one more time" running around your head for a whole week!
When there is no music to cure those songs that get stuck in
your head, then they just stay there. I had that bush walk song stuck
in my head for days after my lesson. I think everyone else did as well.
(To be continued.)