Travelling through Cultures and Countries
– The Van Hooreweghe’s
The week started off with everyone packing up and being thrown on the big blue overlander at four in the morning. We certainly weren’t bright eyed and bushy tailed as we knew that there was a massive fourteen hour trip over bumpy potholed roads through Zimbabwe. Just before the dreaded border post, we stayed at the awesome Pumpkin Hotel in little more than a village around thirty minutes away from the border into Mozambique. It was a hard night as we slept under a gazebo on tiles next to a pool which we all made use of. We left early the next morning to make sure we were the first people at the border. Nobody had problems and it all went extremely smoothly. As we were walking to the next border check, some people were bargaining to get a better rate to change their money into Malawian Kwatcha. We all decided to wait to change money at the next border post rather. At the final border post between Mozambique and Malawi everyone decided to change their cash. This proved to be a massive mistake as despite all the warnings, the people that changed their money all re-counted and everyone had been ripped off. It varied between people and the amounts lost varied between 10 dollars to around 80 dollars that people lost. Steven was the biggest loser in this scenario. Other than the money problems, there were no real passport issues, only delays which were to be expected. We then got to Monkey Bay, Lake Malawi at around 7pm in the evening. All of us tired, but relieved to be there, we set camp and had a burger to finish off the day.
Our first 5 days consisted of diving. Exercise sessions were done in the early morning as always and a lot of the guys played water rugby regularly after the diving session were finished. This was made more interesting with Angus’s antics as he made full use of the various bars in the area the night before. Each morning we had to walk a long 3km through a village and the beach to get to our location. We all had to swim about two hundred meters as a swim test before we got split into two groups. The first group was with Don and the second had Rob as our long suffering instructors. Day one and two consisted of skills that were done in shallow water and the theory part of the course. Day three and four were a lot more fun, that’s when we did our first ever four dives going from ten meters to eighteen meters underwater. During those four dives the first group were way better in air consumption compared to the second. On the fifth day the majority of the group did the deep water adventure dive which was a wreck dive for our advanced course. The second group went first, they had no problems at all, saw the wreck and a little family of catfish. The first group on the other hand didn’t see the wreck as Angus and Matt ran out of oxygen at an early twenty six meters under. This was the first time that Don had to do an emergency ascent and share oxygen with a student. Matt and Angus both thought that they were goners and kept saying that “I thought I was going die”. The last evening H had organized a pizza evening at Themba View Lodge for everyone including both instructors. Some of us ended the night quite late and there were plenty of sore heads around camp the next morning.
The next stage of our Malawi trip was off to Senga Bay where we are at the moment. Thrown back into the overlander with sore heads was not a great experience but one that will be remembered. We are staying at Murandy Cottages about fifteen minutes away of our work site, Cool Runnings. A talk about the Malawian culture by Sam Ludick, the owner was given in the afternoon. Shocked faces were seen among most of us when she told us about the differences between western culture and the local culture. I’m short, it’s normal to have about five wives at the same time and what we would consider rape is often overlooked here. Women are certainly not treated as equal to men here either.
The basic outline for our project was to clear, paint and build a wall made out of completely recycled materials for a children’s playground at a military base. The weather is extremely hot in Senga Bay so water is an absolute necessity here and we are going through a lot. We are making bricks out of recycled plastic bottles, sand and water. We also had a fun morning off this morning because we worked hard the day before. We were split into two groups and played a game of volleyball followed by a game of water rugby and finally a quiz on Malawi. The winner of these three games got a crate of beer so the amount of testosterone on the field was crazy.
To be continued……