Once in a Lifetime Experience

By Annabelle Lafrechoux

My mermaid dream come true

My mermaid dream come true

On Friday morning, we set off early for a five hour drive to get to Lake Malawi. This being our first excursion, the excitement was palpable.

Once we arrived, I was totally charmed by the resort and our rooms. They were directly on the beach. We indulged in all matters that concerned foods and drinks (none alcoholic) which we usually don’t have access to a variety of either one. We relaxed by the beach. This was the first moment in a while when we could just relax. Some read, some swam, some chatted and in my case I kept working on a drawing that I had started in the caravan.

On Saturday, we had the luck to be escorted to an island in the lake by three very entertaining men. A particularity of Lake Malawi is that it has a large variety of a particular species of fish which only exist in this lake. Also, the lake’s water is quite clear and transparent which makes the fish very easy to observe from outside and in the water. We were provided with snorkeling equipment so we went on to explore the underwater world. I must admit that as a little girl I dreamed of being a mermaid. This experience is the closest I’ve gotten to that dream. The fish were not scared of us which allowed us to swim among them. For lunch, the men made us a delicious fresh meal with fish, tomato and rice. Once we got back to the resort we headed out to a restaurant where I ate an awesome pizza (the awesomeness comes from eating the same thing every day for over a week). After supper we assisted in a rhythmic drum session. This day took on a feeling of ‘’once in a life time’’ experience.

Our lucky rock

Our lucky rock

The next day, Sunday, we went exploring the surroundings. We went to the markets, explored some historical sites and a museum dedicated to Lake Malawi. By noon we needed to head back to the caravan without having had lunch and leave if we wished to arrive back at Makupo for supper.  A funny little incident occurred which will make the following even more ironic. We made a stop at a site where a huge rock with large line indents. We learned about its historical purpose as site to pray for water. The rock apparently gives good luck. We all took our turn to get our share of luck.

An hour later, our bus broke down.

We were told that it would take three hours for another caravan to come and pick us up. Frank, one of the group members who comes from Malawi said that what it really meant was Malawi hours. Most of us dismissed his comment wanting to be optimistic. We tried to best entertain ourselves, some took a nap, some read, some played cards.   Two hours and a half later, we got a call informing us that the caravan just left and that it would be there in three hours. Most of us at this point were hungry, thirsty, tired and quite bored. We could see this as an awful experience, I rather see it as a group bonding incident.  We shared whatever food we had, the water and our entertainment skills. After the sun set, we started telling stories; making some up such as one about the vegetarian mosquito Skishy.  Linden tried to start a group work session on crosswords puzzles before getting exasperated with mosquitoes being attracted by her headlight and decided to go on a killing rampage with our dear Rebecca’s nature documentary narrating skills. Let’s say that even though at this point we were trapped in a smelling caravan to stay safe from insects, we had quite some fun compared to what one might expect when thinking of such a situation.

In the end we waited for at least six hours and only arrived at Makupo at 1:00 in the morning. But hey, what is an adventure without the unexpected and bumps along the road?

1 thought on “Once in a Lifetime Experience

  1. Susan van Gelder

    Some years ago, while travelling with my daughter, my car broke down. We had quite an experience getting home. My constant line was, “No one was hurt, it’s only money and one day it will make a great story.” The fact that the bus broke down was out of your control – the fact that you found ways to make the time pass, that it became a bonding experience was in your control. Bravo to all of you.

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