At the lodge they had a buffet lunch ready for us. During lunch the monkeys were running around the dinning area and one came and swiped a piece of bread off of our table. They made excellent food and all the meals were delicious I think I gained a few pounds. After lunch we rested a little in our "tents". They call them tents because they have a canvas roof but they have walls and nice big screen windows to possible site animals. A very nice bathroom with hot water and they don't have power out there so they use solar and generators and we had power in our "tents" as well.
At 4 in the afternoon we left on our first safari. There were five of us in our group and two others on our safari plus our two guides. It was so nice to get to see the animals roaming free and yet they would still let us get quite close to get some pictures. Here is a list of the animals we saw. Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, Bushbuck, Impala, Waterbuck, Elephants, Hippos, Warthogs, Baboons, Monkeys, Squirrels, White Breasted Cormorant, Grey Heron, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Rufous Bellied Heron, African Fish Eagle, Southern Owl, Fiery-necked Nightjar, Pied Kingfisher, African Gray Hornbill, Southern Ground Hornbill, Yellow Weaver, Giant Ground Gecko, Crocodile and Nile Monitor. We were very privileged to get to see so many animals but they say in a few months you can see many more and a lot closer. We had our safari during the day then we went and watched the sunset over the river and then went on a night safari. We saw many hippos up on the land, before this all the once we had seen were in the water. They only come out at night to eat because their skin is very sensitive and they can get sunburned. They come out to eat their 160kg of vegetation they need a day and then drink their 60 gallons of water during the day while in the river.
We got back from our night safari around 7:30pm and they had wonderful supper prepared for us. After eating too much again we were ready for bed. I slept very well until about 2:30am when I was woken up by hippos outside our tent. They make a very load noise that is hard to describe and we could also heard them munching on grass. It was kind of surreal to lay there and think that there were actually hippos outside, but it was really cool at the same time. Saturday morning we went on a boat safari we spotted many birds, hippos, crocodiles, the biggest crocodile being about 10 or 12 feet long and probably about 80 years old, they can live to be 120. At 10am we rode the boat back down the river to end our safari experience. It was definitely a high light for me that I will not forget. That afternoon we went to a place where they sell many wood carvings and we got a few souvenirs.
Sunday morning we went to Dedza. It is town that has a well known pottery factory. We stopped in there to buy a little pottery and have brunch because we were passing that way to go and visit three of the ten orphan rescue units that Teen Missions has here in Malawi. These units have one or two staff at them and they take carry of any where from 300 to 500 orphans at each unit. The children don't live there but they come on a regular bases for teaching, basic medical needs and some food at times. You can tell that the children love coming there and the coordinators really have a heart for the kids. It is a big job they have but they do it well. We spent all of Sunday going and visiting the three units and hopefully being an encouragement to them.
Ok so it sounds like so far all that I have been doing is going on safaris, site seeing and buying souvenirs. Boy this sure is the life, ok well that is not all I am doing here in Malawi. Monday I was back working on the garden house and got finished with the bit of brick laying I was doing in there. Since then I have been working on rabbit hutches. You might be thinking why is Andrew in Malawi making rabbit hutches? Teen Missions has a Bible school here at there base and they teach English students as well as Chichewa students. The Bible school is free for the students to attend and they are in class part of the time and then they work part of the time. They also raise many animals like, cows, pigs, goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys and soon to be rabbits when we get these hutches built. They eat some of the animals themselves and sell others to help support the Bible school. They had one hutch almost done when I got here and we have made one more now and we have four more to go. Once they are finished there will be about 50 cages.
It has been nice to get reacquainted with Mat and Heni and see the work that God has called them to here in Chipoka, Malawi. They have been so nice to me and letting me eat all my meals with them and doing my laundry. Thanks so much Mat and Heni for all you have done for me.
Life here in Malawi is in many ways similar to the part of Moz I was in but it has many differences as well. It is much warmer here and thankfully the power is working most of the time at night so that I can have a fan blowing on me otherwise I wouldn't be able to sleep. It is much more humid probably because we are right on the lake. Out my window every morning I see the sun rise over Lake Malawi. You may remember that I had mentioned in one of my previous updates that I heard that only the mosquitoes that don't buzz can carry Malaria. I don't know if this is true but up until coming to Malawi I thought all mosquitoes buzzed but there are some here that you can't hear. I hope they don't all carry malaria because I have been bitten many times.
Funny things I have seen here in Malawi. They carry just about everything on bikes here. I have often seen goats tied down to the rack on the back of a bike or laying over the handle bars and they are alive. Or sometimes a guy will be riding with 10 or 12 chickens hanging upside down of the handle bars. In many countries I have seen just about everything sold by the road. But on Wednesday I went into Lilongwe with Mat and I saw a man sitting at an intersection and selling kittens, this was a first for me. Mat said they bought one from him some months ago. Oh look, I am starting to write like the Malawians talk. They don't say "A while ago" it would be "Some months ago." You don't say "See you later", but "We'll meet" I find these little differences interesting.
I went to Lilongwe with Mat so that I could get my 3 month visa to return to Moz. I went to the Moz Embassy and I saw the price list for the different visas. It said 8,800 for my three month single entry. I thought the prices would be in Moz currency which is meticai and the exchange rate is about 25 on the US dollar. That would mean the visa was going to cost around $350.00. It said the currency that the prices were in was MK which I right away thought was Meticai, but it was Malawian Kwacha and the exchange rate on it is 168 to the US dollar. There largest bill here is 500 Kwacha which is a little over $3.00 US so you can imagine how many bills you would have if you had to exchange any large quantity of money. Thankfully they were able to process my visa that afternoon and I was able to get it back that day.
There are many things available in Malawi that are not in the part of Moz that I was in. While in Lilongwe I was able to get a few things. One of which is a large sheet of steel that I am going to roll up and take back to Moz to make an oven for Jesse and Tanya. I had drawn up a plan to make one when I was still there and then I went to price metal and it was going to cost about $100.00, I can get metal better suited for the job here for $14.00. I don't understand why prices can vary like this, but they do.