Friday, 9 September 2016

A Needed Refresh

I sleep to the sound of frogs and birds chirping through the night. The dawn comes early and even though we had no need to get out of bed, our bodies had adjusted to our routine and we were all up by 7:30. It was very warm already. It's odd to go 6 hours north and the climate gets warmer.

It was this beautiful scene that filled my view as I stepped out the front door. It was peaceful and calm with the sound of the water and a slight breeze.
Our thoughts of the beauty of the glory of the house and ground were verified by the light of day.
Even the grounds surrounding the beach were rustic, natural and delighful.
As you looked down the beach, people from the village were lining the shore with fishing nets and boats or laundry.
As the rest of the gang awoke, we gathered on the porch to enjoy the morning. The sun is often quite high even by 8am. Ambassador Joseph Kuguala and his wife Phyllis came and joined us. He is retired now but he told us of his work with the government and some of the political history of Malawi. It's so much more interesting getting this information from people who lived it as opposed to googling it.
Phyllis had brought in a cook from the local hotel and we were treated to a full breakfast of eggs, toast, hashbrowns, fruit and peanut butter. She also arrange for him to cook any of the meals we need during our stay. They have been wonderful and gracious hosts.
They headed back to their home in Blantyre just after we ate and our team had the retreat to ourselves.  Today was just to refresh and relax after so many days of schedules and activities. Xander took Bryan, Jessie and Janet out for a supply run. Cathy, Karen, Sara and I stayed behind. I had brought some reading material just in hopes that we would have a day like today but in the hurry to pack and wanting to keep it minimal, I had forgotten it at Canada House. Instead, Karen, Sara and I decided to go for a walk while Cathy had some quiet time at the house. It was lovely as we strolled the shorline but the wind had died down and the heat was building. Cathy had forwarned us that if we swam in the water at Lake Malawi, we would have to by 6 pills and then take them 5-6weeks after we had returned home. Silas had confirmed this information but nobody could tell me why or what the medication was or what it did. As anyone will tell you, I am all about taking proper medication and precautions but it should always be an informed decision. I didn't feel completely informed just yet. Sara, Bryan and some of the crew had gone in up to their knees the night before on there walk. Did that count? I needed to google this.
In the meantime, I would enjoy the area.
On our way, we came to a resort that had the pub that the team had been to the night before. It is owned by Dani(who is originally from Australia) and her husband Ryan from Zimbabiwae. They have been here 9 years with their daughter Lilani. At their dock, they had a SUP(Stand Up Paddleboard). I had wanted to try one in Canada this summer but time had flown by. Ryan said I could give it a go now if I wanted. I said sure! I handed my camera to Sara who looked at my long black dress and asked if I was dress for this. I laughed, No Problem, I had put on my swimsuit before we left.
Lilani tooked me out for some instructions.
We started out low so that I could get the feel of the board and my balance.
No problem. I was kneeling and paddling on the first try. Success is good for the confidence.
Standing up was another matter. It was a real challenge to get my core muscles to kick in and find my balance.
And of course, first time wasn't the charm. Lilani was very supportive and encouraging. 
I flipped off the board and into the water. 
This was probably going to require pills.
Lilani: Are you OK? Are you hurt?
Gayle: No, I'm fine. The only thing hurt is my pride.
Lilani: Do you want to go out to deeper water?
Gayle: Won't that make it harder to find my body if I fall off and don't come back up?
She giggled.
Gayle: No, let's go. I can do this. Don't you keeping trying until you can do something?
Lilani: Ya.....
Gayle: Me too.
And determination paid off
It was fun but I'll need more practice before it's a regular thing for me. Sara, Karen and I walked back to the house to tell Cathy about my adventure.
Along the way, we found this small lagoon that only the locals used. I noticed that it was the perfect location for a sunset photo so was determined to come back this evening. 
Back at the house, Karen and Sara started Cathy on the "Guess what Gayle did!" game. With each no, more and more dread filled her face as worst care scenarios filled her options. We relieved her stress by showing her the phots and she thought it was great. I said that Ryan would probably let her have a turn but she said she would pass.
As we were out on the porch, a couple of monkeys were running along the roof edge.
It seemed like a long time before the errand crew returned. When they did, Bryan was ready with the pills for swimming. I checked the name and started googling. So it turns out that it is for killing the larvae of a tapeworm that is known to be in the lake. It doesn't react with any of my other med which is good but it can be hard on your liver. It's a preventative measure and the meds are fairly inexpensive so it's a good call and now an informed decision. As I read the information, Bryan said to quit scaring everyone. I say knowledge is power and at least it was from a reputable source.
Also, Bryan had negociated to have a local fishing boat take us out to Bird Island about 5kms from shore. It was a a lovely ride in a boat that looked like a prop from The Life of Pi. The crew also didn't look like they had reached puberty yet and we had to check where we sat as we out weighed them by a lot.
But it was a relaxing cruise on the lake under the hot sun and we circled around to a same bay on the back side of the island. There the boat went close to shore and we could have gotten out to swim but there was no easy way to get in and out of the boat and the lake bottom was large rocks covered in green algae that looked to slippery. Both Sara and I were very disappointed. But the boat crew got out some bread and started crumbling it and spreading it out in the water. Soon the boat was surrounded by hundreds of colourful fish looking for a good meal. It was amazing. After a few minutes, one of the guys grabbed a big fish, let out a whislte and threw the fish in a big arch so that it landed about 25ft from the boat. In just a few minutes, a large eagle swooped out of the trees and soared down and grabbed the fish and carried it back to it's perch. Spectacular!
We stay a few minutes longer then did the same thing at another place along the island shore. It was then time to cruise back to our beach and to get cooled off. It was late in the afternoon and we hadn't had lunch but it was too close to dinner to have a full meal. We decided to go over to the pub and get some drinks, snacks and go for a swim as they had a pool and a beach.
It was a perfect way to unwind and enjoy a visit with Dani and Ryan. The pool was perfect so Karen and I slipped in but Bryan and Sara opted for the lake. The came back saying they had talked to Ryan and apparently the information I had gotten about the meds was right. Really? Imagine that!
I noticed that the sun was getting low, so I left a little early to get to my spot for the sunset. Sunset photos require the right surroundings, time and patients. I was thinking of my friend, Terri in Cape Breton and how much she works on getting the right sunset shot. Tonight I was rewarded with these.
From bright yellows and oranges to the reds then the mauves. Every other night I have been in a van commuting somewhere but tonight I was alone with the peace of the evening gloaming falling around me.
I walked back to the house and everyone else was on the porch waiting on dinner. Tonight's menu was potatoes, peas & Carrots, fresh tilapia, tomato salad and cookies.
After dinner, some went to enjoy the evening on the porch while Cathy and I taught Xander and Janet how to play Jenga. They really enjoyed it.
They quiet of the dark evening has over taken us again. Today was exactly what we needed. A break from the emotional toll. Tomorrow we will drive back to Blantyre ready to serve again with refreshed spirits......and there are new bikes waiting to be rode!

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