By Calum Harris
After a couple of hours travel we arrived at Cape Maclear from Senga Bay. Driving into the Fat Monkey Lodge got the boys excited, a beautiful view onto the flat calm water with the sun travelling across it- giving us a stunning sunset to enjoy every evening.
All of the guys, despite being mostly hungover after celebrating the completed playground the night previously, were very keen for the more relaxing week ahead in this amazing part of the world. 21 out of the 23 of us were diving this week at Cape Maclear Scuba, Luke missed out due to his injury and Tim doesn’t mix very well with water. I also don’t do greatly with the water side of things and I was reminded of this during the swimming test for the course. A two-hundred metre swim followed by ten minutes of treading doesn’t sound like a lot but when you swim like I do it may as well be a marathon.
On the contrary the scuba diving itself was amazing, bearing in mind its fresh water, the variety of tropical fish and formations underwater were immense and I think it surprised us all. Learning skills such as knowing what to do if you run out of air at eighteen metres depth or whether someone may be suffering from decompression sickness is vital to diving, but it was fun in this environment and made the week at Cape Maclear very worthwhile.
However, this beautiful lake has managed to cause a large amount of illness- David dropping to his knees and chundering all over the campsite during Friday morning’s briefing was nice first thing in the morning. Michael, Nick Snell and Ush have also been struggling with some illness and it took Keaton a near drowning whilst scuba diving to realise his air wasn’t turned on properly. All a pleasant reminder of the dangers.
As useless as we may sometimes appear, we did manage to all complete our PADI Open Water Diving Certificate and Alex Kubierske managed to complete his Advanced Diver Certificate. Rob, Jason and Karl were our trio of instructors who did a brilliant job and even offered us an additional day in Malawi to do an extra dive to a ship wreck, again this was awesome, everyone racing to the front of it to reproduce the famous scene from Titanic- although the boat wasn’t quite on the same scale.
Following the wreck dive we met Rob, Jason and Karl at Gecko Lounge for pizza and they put on a few beers for us as a farewell. At Gecko we bumped into a group of Glasgow University students who one of our Questies (who I’m not allowed to name) seemed particularly fond of. On the way home that night I bumped into a local wearing a Scotland football jersey who now lives in Glasgow and was visiting home. As a Scotsman myself it always amazes me how small the world often appears, seemingly in the middle of nowhere you manage to find people from so close to home.
After a great final night in Malawi we prepared to leave for a daunting journey back to Quest, none of the eager anticipation of the journey to Malawi but instead just restless boys. Some of which struggled with the 2am departure time given the antics from the night before. Finally after an overnight stop at Chegutu we made it back to Quest on Sunday around lunch time. Malawi treated us brilliantly, it was golden, but I think we’re all relieved to be back.