Kande Beach

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The day after the party, we woke up early and hit the road. It was just a few hours in the truck to our second stop along the lake: Kande Beach.
Today was Australia Day, and considering about 80% of our group is Australian, this was a big day. We stopped in town for all the essentials: fruit, snacks, the strangest outfits we could find at the market, and a stupid amount of alcohol.
For the afternoon we planned to make a punch bowl that filled our group sized cooler box. We cut up fruit, poured in a couple boxes of juice, and topped up the rest with 10 bottles of booze. It was potent. Then we each picked names from a hat. Whosever name we drew, we had to give that person our wacky outfit for the evening. We began the festivities at 3:00 with a game of Kings and when the cooler was sucked dry by dinner time, we continued at the campsite’s bar until things got messy.
Kande Beach has a beautiful campground. In celebration of Australia Day, many of us upgraded from tents to chalets right on the beach. It was a great treat for $8. The chalets were spacious, had electricity, a gorgeous view of the lake, and most importantly, comfortable beds!
Our full day at Kande beach was pretty laid back. We spent the morning playing rounds of pool, ate way too much food at the camp’s cafĂ©, and rented a paddle boat to check out Kande Island.
Although it sprinkled in the morning, by 2:00 it was nice enough to head out on the open lake! A few people in our group took a speedboat out to the island to snorkel. Kelsi, Nick, Sandy and I followed much slower in our four man paddle boat.
The island was pretty small, taking us about a half hour or so to climb the rocks all the way around the outer edge. We found some big rocks for the boys to go cliff jumping off. Nick had a pirate cape that he refused to take off during the entire island excursion. He looked like some flying super hero as he dove head first off the cliff, with the pirate flag flying out behind him.
Sandy and I spent time stalking Luke as he snorkeled around the back of the island. We must have spent a good 20 minutes following him sneakily around the rocks. we ducked behind rocks and hid in crevasses each time he came up for air, then eventually, Sandy found a place to dive in and scare the daylight out of him. Ahh the little things that keep us amused.
After a while Kelsi and I swam back to the paddle boat while Sandy, Nick, Luke and Robbo all went snorkeling. Then finally we started our trek back to land to dry off.
That evening was very laid back. After dinner, I bought a local game called Bao off a young guy called “Brown Bread” a few of us played a few rounds at the bar, then I’m pretty sure we were all headed to bed by 8:30: our last and final night in Malawi!

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Malawi Wedding

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There are no two people in the world more upset about being called a couple than Kelsi and Nick. The ongoing joke that they belong together, despite their constant and tireless bickering, made them so unusually angry that it spurred the rest of us to continue with the teasing. And so, the group got together and did the only rational thing we could think of: plan their wedding.
The afternoon after the witch doctor was free time, or, the perfect excuse to have a bucks and hens night before the Australia Day wedding the following night. In reality, this was just a fantastic excuse to separate the boys from the girls and have a crazy night of bonding and partying.
So the boys met a local guy named Vin Diesel, packed up a cooler of cold beers, jumped in a sketchy wooden boat, and went fishing for the afternoon.
Kelsi and I, both still oblivious that the other girls were actually planning a hen party, went to the market to shop. As we arrived back at the campsite, we spotted the girls huddled in one corner of the bar; they stopped, mid-motion, to look at us. Then, with wicked smirks, they pulled out a toilet paper veil from behind their backs and attacked Kelsi. The festivities had begun! A paper veil, a bottle of cheap gin, a plethora of hen’s night games and a fully stocked bar… We had quite the afternoon ahead of us.
It was the first time on the trip that couples had been separated, and it was an amazing way to get to know the girls all as individuals. We laughed, swapped stories, and drank a lot of shots well into the evening. I didn’t realize until it was too late that I was on food prep duty for dinner. I spent more time focused on not chopping my hand off for a half an hour than what I was actually making for dinner. In the end, most of us didn’t really remember eating dinner anyways.
We were well into the activities by the time the boys arrived back home. Kelsi wore a full toilet paper gown, with a veil and a bouquet. We’d had quizzes, sketching competitions and more than enough booze to go around.
The boys showed up in a similar state. Nick’s fear of the wedding spurred them to try to flee in their little boat to Mozambique! The beers were gone, the boat had sunk, they lost some poor local man’s catch of the day, and wound up with a mangled dead chameleon in their shirt pocket: with one arm twisted behind his head and an eye dangling out of its socket, “Cam” was a sight for sore eyes. The last thing I remember is the four boys, sitting at the bar, while Vin Diesel signed their passports to say they had successfully entered Mozambique (If it’s signed”Vinny D” then it’s totally legit). Looks like their evening was equally as tame…

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The Witch Doctor of Malawi

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Malawi is, surprisingly, the most densely populated country in Africa. This feat is even more impressive when you take into account that Lake Malawi, at 29600 square kilometers, takes up about 50% of the country’s land mass. The lake separates the border between Malawi and Mozambique, and looks more like an ocean than a lake when you see it.
Our first campsite had a bar that had a stunning view of the lake. Although we were warned that the lake has both bad parasites and many fresh water crocodiles in it, that didn’t stop Kelsi and I from jumping in the water first thing in the morning the day we arrived (Although that victory was short lived when Kelsi had something brush by her leg, then saw bubbles, and the two of us came running out of the lake screaming as the woo girls hysterically laughed at us safely from shore).
On our first morning in Malawi we went to see the witch doctor. It was about a 20 minute walk through the village to get to his quaint little home. We sat out on some bamboo mats in his backyard and waited for his arrival. While we waited we were swarmed by locals. Young boys from the market came down to chat us up and sell their wares.
“Hello, my name is Vegemite. Would you like to buy some bracelets?”
“Hello, I’m John. I would like you to buy my wooden bottle openers”
Once again, most of the boys had strange nicknames that made it easier for tourists to remember them. They were nice guys, but refused to leave you alone without a purchase. We promised to check out their market stalls after the witch doctor meeting.
Then came the little kids. They were there for the entertainment; they obviously had so much fun clapping along to the witch doctor’s dance. They also loved meeting all the crazy muzungus. They grabbed at our sunglasses, tried to take hair elastics and shrieked with excitement when they saw a photo of themselves on our cameras. They were ADORABLE! I gave one little girl a hair elastic that was around my wrist and then realized I didn’t have 20 more to give to the other children.
The mood changed when the witch doctor arrived. He wore a red, dress-like outfit with a huge belt and anklets made of metal (maybe shell?) pieces that rattled when he walked. His hair stuck straight up out of his head band, he had a whistle in his mouth and a piece of burning log in his hand.
Bongo drummers began in the background, the kids in the audience clapped and the witch doctor began this strange shaky dance, combined with a few rhythmic blows on his whistle. He called up a couple of us that were watching to join him (I’d had enough of joining in local dances and so was glad I was passed). When everyone sat down again he continued to dance, but this time gave up the whistle. Instead he took a bite right out of the burning coals on the log he was holding. Omg. I didn’t even realize at first that’s what he’d done… Then he took another bite: the hot coals charring the sides of his mouth and lips black. All the while he danced and looked people intensely in the eyes as he went around the circle. It was eerie and amazing. Then, in just a short couple minutes, it was over and we were all left with this slightly uneasy feeling.
After the dance, he passed out potions: healing potions, love potions, hangover remedies, and all sorts of things in old resealed water bottles. We each got to smell them and pass them on to the next person as his translator described each potion to us.
When that was all over, we went one by one into his home and had our fortunes told. His home was very basic. The room we walked into was just mud walls, and a few low chairs on the floor. The witch doctor held your hand, looked you in the eyes and told you about your future, while the translator explained it all in English. For many people it was a broad “you will have a good trip, get married one day and have three children” and for others their predictions were much more detailed. Emily was a little more than disappointed that her boyfriend Robbo was predicted to have different children than her, but I think it’ll be okay for them in the end.
When everyone had their future’s told, we walked back to camp. Some of the children walked with us and ended up in peals of laughter as two of us held their hands and swung them all the way home between us (a favourite game of mine as a child).
Even though it was only a short couple hours, it was really neat to see the medicine man and healer of the people in Malawi. The witch doctor was definitely a Malawian experience not to be missed.

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