Friday, July 14, 2006

Nkhata Bay

A few girls and I drove to Nkhata Bay (a town 4-5 hours north of Lilongwe) and stayed for four days. We went for the sole purpose of taking diving lessons - an activity i greatly underestimated. We chose Nkhata Bay for the lessons because we had great recommendations all around that they were the safest - and cheapest. 260USD. the place we stayed in - Myoka Village, is great if you like loud, partying backpackers :). actually, the loudness wouldnt have been so bad if our group hadnt been completely exhausted from the studying and diving the entire time we were there. as soon as we arrived, we were each given thick diving text books, and were greeted by a military type no-nonsense woman instructor. our first night, we had homework. we sat at the lodging's bar, studying, our books scattered in the midst of coffees and hot chocolates. The backpackers periodically ventured to ask if we were travelling study groups. we shot them the occasional envy i'm sure. i'm sure by then we had asked ourselves over and over what we had gotten ourselves into. I had managed to take a break from work, thinking i would be coming for a nice, RELAXING, sit on the beach type of getaway. instead, i was frantically perusing through a text book, reading about what happens to our ears and lungs if we dont take precautions. hmm. of course, we had other good incentives for passing the diving class (besides a healthy fear of dying from lung expansion). the money we had paid was non-refundable. anyway, we started off nicely, and dove our second day. i decided that day that human beings belonged on land. being underwater is just not natural. well...perhaps i can reluctantly admit now - after uncontrollably, and frequently surging to the surface, bouts of seasickness, and my less than graceful management of the heavy diving equipment, i can safely say it was fun :). now if i can only remember what military woman who likes to put the fear of God in people taught us for my next dive.

For those of you who may want to visit Nkhata Bay, you will find the stay - in terms of food and accommodations - very affordable. Four of us shared a room for about 7 USD each a night. Food cost about 2200 Kwachas - which is the total equivalent of about 16 USD for my entire stay! amazing huh? mind you, that's pretty cheap even for Lilongwe. I find Malawi in general to be surprisingly expensive in goods and services. But if you stay in Myoka village, make sure you choose a room far from the dining area as there was music and entertainment every normally this would be more than welcome but if you want to turn in early (as we did every night exhausted from studying and diving), you wont get any sleep. We dined at Njaya one night - great for those who want quiet and rest.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Settling in...

I'm finally starting to settle in Malawi. I'll tell you one thing though. Malawi is not for those without purpose. it's not for those without jobs. if it was not for my work, i would be...dont know what i would be but it wouldnt be a good thing. There is a serious lack of entertainment spots. i miss...i miss having the choice of NOT going to movie night. I miss...sitting in a cozy coffee shop and talking for hours about nothing with my girls. just when i was starting to convince myself that i have to give up these past-times, i was invited to a theatre spot in Lilongwe - MadSoc Theatres? - and we saw in interesting satirical play about the government's relationship with the development community. ha. no, that really was a genuine laugh - being part of the development community, i was indeed able to see the funny (but unfortunate) satire in the play. so, it's a matter of actively seeking out those entertainment spots people. if you're not the social type, forget it, you're lost. people have parties here like there is no tomorrow. you will see retirees dancing at a home party past midnight. there are a few clubs and such for those who like to dance outside of their homes, but still have to visit these spots myself. also, if you are willing to travel 1 to 3 hours outside of the city, the abundance of outdoor activities are something to experience. next week, me and 3 other girls are going to drive 4-5 hours north of here to go diving (Nkhata Bay)...will let you know how that goes...i'm very excited!