“You may camp in exchange for playing music,” Watson informed us upon our arrival at the Cape Maclear Eco Lodge with Kanthangu and his wife, Mbutchi (our couch surfing hosts from Blantyre).
Situated on a picturesque beach, I noticed the island that appeared to be a few hundred meters off-shore. 18 months before I had swam to an island in Indonesia with Baz, a hundred feet off Lombok snorkelling around it.
“That island is very far,” Watson indicated. “It is almost two kilometres.”
Hmm. “Think I’ll just swim around here,” I grinned.
Hope and I set up our campsite, stringing up my hammock between the trees. The heat begged for a dip. I hit the water, swimming out to the small taxi boat anchored off-shore. The boat was being used as a perch by cormorants and other lake birds I couldn’t identify. I dove under until I could see the hull and then, with my lungs screaming for air, I breached the water like a sperm whale and watched as the birds took flight, fearing the great hairy lake monster that had just snuck up on them.
The water at Cape Maclear is clear and the bottom is sand with underwater grass growing just up to the surface of the water. It’s like swimming through a forest canopy. The only drawback to this beautiful area was the amount of plastic I found in the water, close to the shoreline.
At sunset Kanthungo and Mbutchi joined us as we walked along the beach, sipping on beers, admiring the various resorts and discouraging all the local kids that would run up and say, “Gimme money,” hands stretched out.
I’d give them a piercing look which they brushed off with a repeat of their demand to which I would sternly say, “No,” and then proceed to lecture them on why it’s rude to demand money and why they shouldn’t perceive that every foriegner they encounter has money nor should they expect that every white person will give them money.
They looked at me blankly. “Gimme money,” they demanded, stretching out their little hands.
Even though it was Christmas, I bah-humbugged and refused to do any Christmas songs or have anything to do with one of the most commercialised and materialistic, paganistic holidays that the Coca Cola Company has helped push to the forefront of all holidays (the ‘Christmas Spirit’ that makes everyone so charitable and friendly should be daily, year-round and not just in December. Human nature. Go figure).
While playing, Watson presented us with two cold beers on the house. After the show, while Kanthungo and Mbutchi went out to a club, Hope and I chilled on the beach.
Sitting in the shadows has its perks. People walking along can’t see you. I used this to our advantage and began to make animal noises and watched with child-like delight as people jumped to the sounds (I’m easily entertained).
That night I crashed in the hammock while Hope took the tent. Enjoying the light breeze I promptly fell asleep.
Until I was awoken by a few heavy drops of rain.
Shit. I scrambled out of my sleeping bag and surprised myself on how fast I managed to climb out of the hammock without flipping over or tearing apart the mosquito net. Hope, hearing the thunder, had quickly made space just as I crashed in as the clouds dropped their payload.