Here Amanda describes the journey back to Lilongwe and some of the sights she saw along the way!
For the journey back to Lilongwe John suggested we visit the lake shore as it was less than an hour’s drive from Mzuzu and meant we could take an alternative road back to Lilongwe along the lower section of the lake. We drove via some of the lakeside tourist resorts as well as small fishing communities, and also passed through a huge rubber plantation, the trees with their characteristic scoring around the bark and a small bowl fixed to the trunk to catch the rubber sap. At this point there were also roadside rubber ball sellers, the balls themselves looked like a tightly woven ball of wool with the strands of rubber forming an intricate pattern across the surface.
The shore of the lake looks very like a white sandy beach in a Mediterranean country. The lake itself is so vast you can’t see the other side, and with the wind creating small waves that break over the rocks around the edges, it’s hard to believe it’s fresh water. People fish using very small boats similar to canoes, with most of them seemingly made from one single tree trunk. Much of the fishing is done at night,with lights used by the fishermen creating the ‘Lake of Stars’.
The main fish for sale along the shore was Chambo, both fresh and dried or smoked, but people were also selling very small dried fish, Usipa, and catfish, Mulamba. John told us these had more fillet and fewer bones than the Chambo, making them more of a delicacy. He then stopped to buy some fish to take home which were tied to the windscreen wipers to transport. This meant they were kept cooler and the constant air movement prevented flies from landing on them, but did make for an interesting view from the front seat!
As we travelled south and left the shores of the lake, it was noticeably much hotter and drier after the cool mountain air further north. The larger stretch of land between the road and the lake was filled with sugarcane plantations with enormous lengths of irrigation pipes running across them, and John told us that sugarcane growing and processing provides most of the employment in the local area. Once we turned inland away from the lake and descended into Lilongwe, we were definitely ready for a good night’s sleep before more co-operative visits.