Thursday, March 7, 2013

There's a snake in my boot (house)!

Apologies to Toy Story’s Woody, but I couldn’t resist. Seriously though, snake in the house.  Those of you who know me should then be saying, “so what?” I like snakes, never had trouble with them and had more than a few as pets. They’re nice, quiet, unassuming pets and feeding them is a snap. All my snakes have typically been a long the constrictor path.  After all, deadly things don’t belong in your kid’s glass aquarium. This one, this one was not.

I’d like to give a shout out to Mr. Kitty, Squiggles, for alerting me to the snakes presence.  I really don’t want to think about what would have happened if he hadn’t have said something. But I’m getting a head of myself.

I was making lunch and heard a sound behind one of the clay pots off to my left under my other table near the back door, and that’s when the cat meowed.  I thought he had found a toad and was harassing it.  They hide in the house during the day and make their way out at night to hunt for bugs.  While he never eats the toads he does bat them around a bit.  Remember how we learned in like 4th grade that under the Medieval Feudal system all the deer and wildlife in the forest belonged to the crown? Well we have that mandate in my house, it covers all toads and geckos.  I got their backs.  So naturally I wanted to shoo Mr. Kitty away and let the toad get on with sleeping the day away.

Keep in mind that this next part happens in about 5 seconds flat.  I turn, see a dark shape under the table, think it’s a toad because I’m stupid and didn’t have my glasses on.  At that instant I see droplets go flying past my head, where I had previously been standing. (Keep in mind 5 seconds) I think, toads don’t spit water, sure they pee if you pick them up but I don’t think their range is THAT good.  *Hissssss* Look again, and oh hey, that is a snake, snakesnakesnakesnake and it is kinda reared up, it’s black too.  Back up back up back up, did I see a hood? Where are my glasses? Get the pan off the stove!

By now I’m on the porch while my heart as done a couple laps around the yard and is waiting for me to catch up. I’m also going back and forth on what kind of snake it is and what to now do about it.  Is it a mamba? The mouth tissue looked black, that could be a shadow.  I’m really sure mambas can’t spit, can they flatten their neck some to make a hood? I don’t think they can……oh cobra.  There’s a cobra in the house?! What?!  

I remembered hearing about another volunteer that he saw a cobra and I remember thinking, “aw, I never get to see anything cool.” No, I’m good, changed my mind.  I’ve basically been kicked out of my house by a 4 foot reptile that, if it so chooses, and has decent timing and aim, can render you blind.  Good for you, good job Mary.  See what happens when you say your life is dull. Idiot. On the flip side though, there is a cobra in your house and that’s pretty cool, get the camera.

As I’m standing on the porch watching him in the house I’m trying to decide exactly what to do about it.  I will not send the dogs in after him, I’ve seen too many cases of snake bite in dogs here to do that.  The villagers would love to kill it but I am not dragging someone over here just to get them blinded.  So I decided that the best policy was to wait and see what he decided to do.  I don’t know, it just seemed like the plan with the lease possible casualties. After a couple more moments he left the same way he came in, under the door.  Then I realized I had a new problem, a poisonous snake in my yard, and I have a huge yard.  Thought: do I try and follow him, make sure he leaves the yard? If I don’t see where he goes what are the odds of running into him in the bafa? Or the chim? I do not want him literally catching me with my pants down.

By now I had my glasses on so I figured that afforded me some protection, I guess, and went around the front of the house to the back to see if I could spot him.  Mr. Kitty did! Brave good little Squiggs was running him off.  I started hucking rocks at it too and he left out the bottom of the fence and so far we haven’t seen him since.

I kept thinking about Steve Irwin aka The Crocodile Hunter, he has more than a few episodes where he deals with cobras. As he is holding it and it spits on his arm “Crikey! He’s a might agitated!” hee hee.  I grew up on that stuff, so see mom, I could have turned out worse.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Welcome to Malawi

First off I’d like to say welcome and congrats on getting selected!  You are the few brave enough and crazy enough to wade through the rivers of red tape, paperwork, and trips to the doctor’s office just to find out if maybe you are possibly chosen. 

You are headed to Malawi soon soon (first thing you should know, people like to say things twice, soon- soon, now-now, slow jam-slow jam, you get it), and you will be the group that replaces mine.  I don’t think I’ll have the chance to meet any of you but good luck all the same. If you are thing like me when I came two years ago you are no doubt running around trying to figure out what to bring and what to leave.  Let me offer some pointers;

Clothing- You need a few pairs of pants, t-shirts, underwear (bring extra underwear) and one nice outfit.  That’s pretty much it..The clothes you bring will not get you through your two years so let go of the delusion right now. You just need to get through homestay.  After that you can buy clothes pretty much at any market in the country or in any of the big cities. 

Shoes- One good pair of sandals, I live in my Tevas, as my tan lines will tell you.  I also have tennis shoes, hiking boots and a good pair of dress shoes.  Personally I just hate washing socks, so I never wear real shoes.  If I were more motivated or had someone else doing my laundry then, maybe I’d wear the real shoes more often. 

Phones- Peace Corps will tell you that they don’t recommend you bringing an internet phone to country, they’re dumb, bring one. Most communication with the office is via email and while it’s true you don’t absolutely need one, they are super nice to have.  I recommend Blackberry, I love mine, I spend 2000 kwacha a month and get all the internet I can use, texts cost extra but for internet it’s good and Blackberry has a good signal here.  You can bring one and get it unlocked in country or you can buy one here in Lilongwe, for about $150 or so. I do not recommend bringing an iPhone, I’ve heard from other PCVs that the signal is not very good. There are also cheaper internet phones you can get here in Lilongwe.

Computer- Yes. Bring one. It is really nice to have some kind of entertainment at site. Rainy days are boring and during the aptly named rainy season there are many, reruns are a great way to kill time and lift your spirits.

External hardrive- Again, yes, bring one. Your computer will fill up quick but bring a case for it because they don’t like being bumped around too much

iPod- I love mine, it has music, podcasts, audiobooks on it and I listen to all of them

Kindle- if you are a reader then I think this is a good one to have. There is a good library in the office but traveling with actual books is hard so a kindle is nice to have, bring a protective case for it.

Headlamp- Bring a good quality one, you don’t want to be out a headlamp, they are really important.

Insurance- insure everything. I mean it, this place is rough on your stuff, especially electronics.

US Dollars- Bring USD if you can afford it, it’s nice to have as a safety net or vacation money to spend or money to bring a pet home at the end of your service.

Solar power- Decide if you want it and get this sorted out before you come.  If you want to buy a panel before you come that’s probably a good idea, better quality.  The set up I have is pretty simple, the panel charges a small 12volt motorcycle battery.  The battery then steps down to a cigarette outlet like you have in your car, then I plug in a USB charger to it and I charge my phone and ipod at home.  If you want to do something like this but charge the computer as well then you will have to buy a charger for your computer that you can plug into a cigarette outlet, like if you were charging it in your car.  You don’t want to mess with converters.  You lose a lot of power running it through a converter like that. 

Solar shower- don’t bother

Pressure cooker- bring one! I love mine, you can cook beans it is way faster than normal (8 min. vs 40 min) and meat comes out really tender
A good frying pan is nice to have as well
Knife- bring a good pocket knife and a knife sharpener

A basket for the front of your bike- Bring this!!!! I cannot stress this enough, especially for the envrio volunteers!! You will live on your bike and while yes you have a rack on the back of your bike a basket is amazing.  You can carry so much more stuff (read: food) this way.  It isn’t hard to pack, you put it in your duffle and put stuff in and around it, easy peasy. 

Zip Ties/bungee cords- extremely helpful, it’s how I keep my basket attached to the bike

Spices- Two years ago I would have said don’t bother, you can buy them here, then the prices for everything went up a ton.  Bring some kind of flavorful salt, an allspice, basic stuff, parsley, basil, oregano, or if there is anything special you like.  Yes you can restock here, but these will be nice to get you through homestay.

Health supplements- If you have any vitamins you are taking and want to keep taking them then bring a few months worth when you come, this should hole you over until mail starts coming in. I take a multivitamin and Biotin and a hair/nail supplement.

Camping stuff- I recommend a tent, sleeping bag and a sleeping pad.  They come in handy.

Snacks- these will be great through homestay, dried fruit, beef jerky, whatever you enjoy.

What to put it all in?- I brought a backpacking backpack and a duffle bag and everything fit great.

I also recommend a regular backpack that can fit all your electronics, laptop, camera, kindle, ipod etc.  You do NOT want to be separated from these during the flight over.  In Johannesburg they love telling people that the cabin is full and they take any rolling suitcases or dufflebags and check them.  Odds are extremely good that if your electronics are in these that you will not see them again.  You want to keep them with you at all times.

 If you haven’t looked for discounts for Peace Corps volunteers then google it, there is a wiki page somewhere with a huge list of who offers discounts and how to get them.  Big names too, North Face, Coleman, Teva, Chaco, even Apple and Dell.  You should look into it.

You are bringing your life with you for two years, many of the things you bring will break or wear out over those two years but you do your best when you start out.  If you have to cut something out, cut clothes. Clothes are easy to get here, other stuff not so much.  Enjoy the time you have left in America. See your friends, family and have fun. Try not to stress about it and enjoy yourself!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Christmas on the Indian Ocean

So one of my favorite kids movies is Muppet Treasure Island, come on, it's a classic, and the line that always struck me the most out of it was when Gonzo says, "Off to Zanzibar to meet the Zanzi-barbarians!" I remember asking where Zanzibar was and the best answer I got was, "It's a tropical island."

Fast forward a little bit and guess what Zanzibar isn't all that far from Malawi! Vacation engage! I went to Zanzibar with Shira Stites from my environment group for Christmas and New Years.  getting there was quite the battle.  Once we crossed the border and paid a ton of money for our visas we got on a bus to Mbea where we spent the night with every intention of taking the train the following morning to Dar es Saalam.  Well, all good intentions aside, that kinda failed.  Come to find out the train left yesterday, sad.  So we got on a bus to Iringa which is basically the half way point from the border to Dar and spent the night in Iringa.  The next day the bus to Dar, which should have only taken 6 hours was a whopping 14 hours thanks to two back to back traffic accidents going through the mountains. If you think traffic sucks in America well quite frankly, you're wrong.

Dar was huge! Coming from the village in Malawi it was super impressive, any building over 3 stories is basically a skyscraper now and that place was loaded with them.  We spent a couple days in Dar, long enough to poke around a bit and buy tickets for the ferry out to Zanzibar.  The ferry to Zanzibar was really nice but getting on it was a mess.  You almost felt like a man in combat fatigues stood up with a bull horn and announced that this was the last boat out of Vietnam.  People everywhere, well dressed people too, all shoving and pushing to get through this tiny door at the security checkpoint. Which was pointless because the ferry wasn't even there yet! It was still coming back from the island! People jumping in line and no one saying anything either, that would not fly in America.  If you had tried that in America the other travelers would declare you an
 enemy of the state and then fight over who got to keep your three piece set of Samsonite luggage.

The ride to Zanzibar took about an hour and a half and finally getting there was great. We checked in to our hotel, Zenji, which was really nice and then wandered around.  Stonetown is beautiful, just the city itself and I don't often say that about cities.  We walked around looking at the old buildings and, as strange as it sounds, the doors.  Stonetown is known for it's beautifully carved, antique doors. It's easy to get lost there too.  The little back streets and alleys twist and turn between tall narrow buildings and the only way you can back track it by trying to remember if you turn left at the carved hippo or if you have to keep going until the hindu temple.

At night we went to Forodani Gardens, the park along the water front where the local restruants and fishermen set up tables for you to wander around and pick your dinner.  Lobster, mussles, squid, octopus, all kinds of fish, breads, fresh juices, everything.  You walk around and point and they grill it right there.  It was fantastic, people always say they never eat street food when they travel because they don't want to get sick but when it's fresh caught and fresh cooked it's just perfect.

We also went on a spice tour, Zanzibar is also known as the Spice Island and they grow all kinds of spices there, vanilla, curry leaves, cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves, nutmeg and on and on and on. 

After Stonetown we split up for a couple days, I went north to Matemwe to go scuba diving and snorkling for a couple days. There were so many fish and different types of coral to see, it was beautiful.  I've loved diving in lake Malawi but the Indian Ocean is really impressive. 

After diving I went south to Paje to meet up with Shira for a couple days where we chilled on the beach before going back to Stonetown and flying out on the 1st of January. 

After getting back to Malawi I was promptly sick with some kind of stomach bug for a few days, urgh.  I will never miss being sick here, it's so much worse here.  A week later it was time for Close of Service Conference and drumroll please.......Monday April 15th I am out! I can't believe how fast two years have gone by.  The next few months are going to fly by as well. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Azungu, mu kupiti kuti?

One of a Malawian’s favorite things to ask is, “where are you going?” I hear them ask it of other Malawians but they love love love asking it of white people.  When you first get to country it drives you nuts.

Imagine, you have just come to a weird new place, your language skills have the same fluidity as cement, you’re living with a strange family who just stares at you all through dinner and every time you go out everyone wants to know where you going.  Even after 4 weeks of being in home stay and having the same routine, language class, lunch, technical training, maybe more language, people still yell it to you from the farthest reaches of a maize field, “Where are you going?!”

And your answers are always the same, “I’m going home” or “I’m going to school”, never is it “I’m going to water world!” or “To meet the president.” You know where we’re going, why are you asking?

But it doesn’t stop at home stay, once you get to your village it keeps up, “where are going?” Every time you walk outside with a bag, or your bike, “where are you going?”  Your answers are a little different now, “To the boma” “to chat with my friend” “to Lilongwe” “to Mzuzu” “to a meeting” but they still want to know.  And you know what; I have a guess about why.

In America, what is our favorite greeting? More than likely, you see someone you haven’t seen in a while and you open with “Hey! What’s up!” or “What’cha doing?” In our culture it is more common to ask what someone is doing.  Now, if I run into someone when I’m out at the mall or something I’ll as where they’re going but it will always be followed with a question about what they’re doing once they get there.  In our culture we want to know how busy you are, how are you occupying your time, what have you achieved lately?

Malawi? Not so much. In the village, they know what everyone is doing. You are probably going to your maize, cassava, or rice field.  If you live near the lake it’s probably fishing.  The women are getting water, making nsima or getting firewood. The kids, well, no one really cares what they’re doing.  The men? Probably in the field for a bit and then playing bow, a board game. We know what you’re doing out there, it’s no big mystery. What people here don’t do is go places and here is where I got my idea about why they like to ask “where are you going?”

A few days ago I was at Henery’s house and we were talking about the bridge that Karen and Carl made and the repairs that need to happen, some boards need replacing, and the kids need to stop digging at the foundation stones, when Margret, his wife walked by.  After a few minutes she commented on how she has never seen the bridge…..never seen the bridge….never seen the bridge. What? The bridge is maybe 300-400 meters from this house? How could you never see it? Not even out of curiosity! I guess I always knew that the villagers didn’t really go places, especially the women but that really threw it into focus, how little they move around. 

When someone asks me where I’m going it is so much more than just a question.  How could I possibly be going back to Lilongwe? Wasn’t I just there last month? How amazing it must be to go to so many different far off places.  What must it be like to go somewhere big like America? People are coming all the way from there for a just a few weeks and then turning around just to go back? It’s more than, “where are you going?” It’s almost like living vicariously through the Peace Corps volunteer.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Here puppy puppy puppy!

Some of you may recall back in September of last year I made a post about dogs, specifically why I did not need one and how despite all efforts one still fell in my lap.  Just a bit of an update, Dora is doing great, yes she did grow beyond 9" so no worries about that. 

Also, she has a blog,

Having a dog is one of the most amazing, frustrating, cross cultural experiences that I've ever had here.  Some days it's amazing and others it makes me just want to go home.  Basically it's just about what it's like to have a dog here and how it differes from owning a dog in America. So there you go, if you're into dogs then you may find it interesting reading.

Oh more thing...this is my official statement, you can quell all the rumors, yes I am bringing her home with me.  Sorry mom, I know you think I'm nuts but I can't do it.  I can't leave her behind.  I was always taught to take care of my pets and I don't think it is right on many different levels to leave her here. You still love me right?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Edible Elephants

I have blogged about elephants in the past and am going to take a moment blog about them again.  For those of you who haven’t read those posts or don’t want to (stop being lazy) but here’s the background info again.

I live a few kilometers away from the edge of Nkhotakota game reserve which like most of the reserves/national parks here are unfenced.  Also, the villages here go right up to the edges of these places opening the door to massive human/wildlife conflict.  Right outside the reserve grows maize, peanuts, bananas, pigeon peas, etc which is better than the stuff in the reserve. So quite literally the grass is greener on the other side (get it? cause maize is in the grass family Hahaha!). 

As you have probably guessed the elephants come out to eat these goodies but also to get away from poachers.  Nkhotakota game reserve is pretty heavily poached and when the poachers are in the park the elephants are out.  Understandable, better food and no one is trying to kill you.  What do you do when an elephant has decided to make a snack of your field? Well not much but there are a few things that the villagers do. For starters they will beat drums or buckets to scare them away, during the dry season they light fires near where they are and the smoke and fire scares them away.  As a last resort, if they have been coming out a lot lately, the chief will call the Parks & Wildlife office and they will come out. Once they get there the standard procedure is to fire off some rounds, that will really scare them off. And it works,the last time Parks & Wildlife killed an elephant was back in the 70’s.

Until last Friday night.

I was supposed to have a meeting with the bee keeping club on Saturday morning and no one was there.  And I don’t mean a couple people popped in and said hi, I mean most of the village was gone.  I’d never seen the village this quiet. I was waiting with my neighbor Agnes and mentioned that I was waiting for the meeting to start but no one had come.  Then she casually mentioned, oh, maybe they have gone to see the elephant.  I thought maybe the elephants were out of the reserve, no, that wasn’t it, this one was dead.

Well that did it, and a few seconds later I found someone to take me there.  Finally we got to a place to leave the bikes and walk.  My first clue was the number of bikes at this place.  My next clue was how many people we passed while walking to this cassava field. Coming around a clump of grass I saw a massive group of people all standing together. My first thought was “crap, this is a small elephant.” And she was, not very big at all, not over 5 years I’d guess.

After asking around I found out that the night before the elephants came out.  Not that unusual but they had been out every night for the past few weeks which is really high.  The chief had called the Parks & Wildlife office to have them come scare the elephants away.  Apparently after firing off the rounds this one charged them so they fired on her. Which brings us to Saturday morning in the cassava field.

Once I got closer I could see everything a little clearer. Everyone was standing around the carcass talking loudly, poking the bloated belly and standing on it.

Then I found my neighbor Benson, with his camera making bank! He has one of the only cameras for 12 kilometers and at 120 kwacha per shot people were lining up for pictures with the dead elephant. 

Try to think about this from a non-western stand point.  I know a lot of you would have been shocked and stunned to see someone posing in outlandish and rude ways on a dead animal. Think about it this way, you have seen elephants more than the vast majority of Malawians.  Elephants are confined to the reserve and unless you live near a reserve you will not see one, even then most people don’t see them.  Once news got out that one was dead people flocked to see it.  Explaining how the trunk works, that tusks are used for leverage to break branches, and their babies drink milk are all mind blowing to them. 

As far as pictures go Malawians pose weird for pictures.  The best way I can explain it is an attempt at imitating American images that are commonly seen in movies or magazines.  For them it isn’t weird.  They made poses that we would find very strange but here it is normal.  Even after living here for a year and seeing this I wasn’t ready to see it on a dead animal. I left after a few minutes.

Over the course of the day more and more people showed up.  In the evening Parks & Wildlife showed up to cut up the carcass.  Part of the meat was sold in the villages and the rest was taken to the boma to sell there.  The ivory was confiscated, don’t worry about that.

 The next day Benson and Agnes asked me over for lunch and yup, wouldn’t you know it, we had elephant.  And so help me it was good.  Elephant is tasty.  I know coming from a western point of view the words I have just typed are sacrilegious.  How dare you eat an elephant and like it! You should be ashamed of yourself! You know what? I was hungry, I hadn’t eaten yet  that day and I hadn’t seen animal protein in a long time.  Actually, you could have told me it was beef and I wouldn’t have believed you, it was too good to be beef.

For a lot of the villagers it was the first time they had eaten any serious protein in months.  Read that again and think about what it means; months.  The best American equivalent I could give you is eating pasta, forever.  Your diet is pasta, and mustard greens and that’s about it.  Every now and then you’ll have eggs, or maybe some fish that, I’m not kidding are the same size as goldfish. You jump at the chance for something else.  Now imagine something is taking away that pasta, you have greens to eat now.  That’s basically what the elephants do. Don’t you dare go blaming them or condemning them until you have lived like they do. 

Does it suck? Yes it sucks, human/wildlife conflict is a problem in America too, if you think it isn’t then you need to come out of your bubble.  Wolves, bears, mountain lions, bison and coyotes just to name a few.  How do we make it work? I don’t have the answers, I don’t know that anyone does.  But I will say this, don’t judge them for it.  I wish everything could be pink fluffy bunnies and strawberry fields forever.  Unfortunately pink fluffy bunnies eat the strawberry fields.  Wildlife and people will continue to create problems for each other until there are either no more people or no more animals.  All we ask is that you have patience and listen to all sides of the story before you step in and tell us you have a solution. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July Fourth

Yeah, right now it’s about July 12th but still, we had a July 4th not too long ago here.  I think you had one in the States too, but a few hours after ours was. Hahaha, time changes, but I digress.
Our party also coincided with Renee’s birthday, well almost, but it was close enough that it was a joint birthday party for America and Renee. Cassie, Shira and I also decided to take a couple extra days off and do the hike in to Ruarwe, kind of a cool lodge along the lakeshore. To get to Ruarwe you have to either hike in or take a boat, we decided we were going to hike starting at Renee’s site.  Renee lives up north…way up north.  I know you guys look at a map of Malawi and think I live up north. No. Those of you who have your ‘at home edition’ of our game handy, look at your map of Malawi, find Nkhotakota, okay, now go north to Mzuzu, now find Rhumpi and go half way between Rhumpi and Karonga.  Yeah, it’s far and it’s even farther when you don’t have a car. 
My travel day started at 5:30am and ended at 7:00pm.  After getting a bike taxi to Nkhotakota boma I started walking north and got a ride to Dwangwa, from Dwangwa I again began walking and got picked up for a little ways and then got another ride all the way to Mzuzu.  Actually he took me all the way to Ekwendeni, a little out of Mzuzu.  From there I got a minibus to the Rhumpi turnoff where I ran into two more PCVs on their way to the party, Christian and Kathi. 
I don’t remember what time it was but it was getting dark and we wanted a ride.  After quite the wait we finally we able to find an extra shoehorn to use to squeeze us into a passing minibus.  Poor Kathi had a stack of buckets in her face and got a bad leg cramp and trust me there is no way to walk that sucker out while you’re in a mini bus.  Christian was perched on that little ledge behind the driver’s seat and the guy has really long legs so I’m not exactly sure how he origami-ed himself in there but he did. 
You know how when you read about old stone work at places like Machu Picchu they archeologists are all like, “the stones all fit so closely together you couldn’t fit a razorblade between them.” That was our ride, we were the stones at Machu Picchu.
I’m sitting between this woman on my right and these two guys on my left.  It’s kind of something you have to experience but I’ll give it a shot for you.  The guys on my left aren’t sitting, they can’t, that’s how many people are in here.  They are standing in that little space between where the door closes and me, in the seat.  Since they can’t stand up all the way and can’t sit they are bent in half with their heads right next to mine.  Meh, I don’t mind, I’ve had rides like that a lot, it’s normal.  The part that sucked was that these two guys decided they needed to talk to the woman just on the other side of me but to do it in a volume that indicated she was on the dark side of the moon.  Seriously, I may have hearing damage.
Luckily though, this momentary incarceration in the rolling loony bin lasted for just under 2 hours.  I easily had another 30 min left before I would have gone nuts and started trying to fit a razor blade in the neighboring stones…I mean between, between the neighboring stones.
But wouldn’t you know it we arrived at Maji Zuwa the lodge the party was held at! Yay! It was dark and there were already a bunch of people there so we grabbed some dinner, which was good, that day had consisted of two eggs, an ice cream cone in Dwangwa and an orange from Kathi, I was hungry.  So Cassie, my tent mate and I set up overlooking the lake and crashed. 
The next couple days were simply wonderful, food, friends, music and swimming.  The swimming was a bit of a challenge though, the beach at Maji Zuwa isn’t sand, it’s smooth rock covered in algae.  You get really good at learning how to grip with your toes, or just falling over.  Falling over was actually the preferred method for getting in, you walk out and when you can’t control your standing or your swimming partners have abandoned you, you just fall over and swim the rest of the way.  Getting out was interesting, you know what seals look like when they are trying to move on land…yeah…something like that.
Anyways, over the course of the 4th we came to learn that the ferry that goes into Ruarwe was not working, not boat ride out is not good.  Hiking back out of Ruarwe adds a few days to your trip that we didn’t have.  So we cancelled Ruarwe and the three of us decided to just go lodge hopping for a few days.  First stop; Nkhata Bay, the lodge; Mayouka.
We stayed at Mayouka for three days then hit Kande beach for a night and home after that.  It all added up to just under a week and we had a blast, we spent waaaayyyy too much money much too quickly but we enjoyed every second of it.  I hope everyone back home had a fun Fourth of July, I know we did and I look forward to spending the next one with all of you back in America!