Monday, August 15, 2011

Flies, Fishermen and Flights of Fancy


The days flew by, as dust wafted behind the land cruiser on our way South. A smile curved my lips when we reached the brilliant coast of Lake Malawi again. Oh, how I loved its azure shores. One day Eddie pointed out a dark cloud across the lake. It looked like smoke, but Eddie shook his head no. The hazy cloud that drifted on the horizon was in fact lake flies. Catherine and John had never seen them before, but Eddie remarked that they were edible and considered a delicacy by the locals when they swarmed across the lake. They caught them by the handfuls and squished them into balls, then fried them up into "delicious" fly cakes. As we were not there at the right time of year, we would not get the pleasure of trying them. Eddie assured us that we were not missing anything. He had tried them before and wasn’t impressed. As I had tried the other Malawian treat of grasshoppers and hadn’t been a fan, I didn’t rue our timing all that much. I guess protein is protein though, when it is scarce to come by. I just preferred the view.
The lapping waves were a welcome companion, as I curled up on the beach at night as well. With the flies located across the lake and no mosquitoes to bug me, I could look up at the pristine, star-lit sky in awe. It was also a treat to watch fishermen stringing their nets out in the moon’s glow in hopes of catching a meal for the next day. The long row of lights that represented each fisherman along the net, painted a line of humanity in my mind’s dark eye. I was mesmerized and fell in love with Malawi all over again.
Before I knew it though, the lake was behind us and I was let out at Annie’s Guest House, in Lilongwe, for the night. I was amongst backpackers again and enjoyed the camaraderie, for an evening at least. Stories were swapped and chocolate was shared. Our laughter was only good until noon though and then I met back up with Eddie to head off for the next leg of our journey.
After jumping into the land cruiser again, we journeyed on across the continent. We stopped in Chipata, then made our way across Zambia to Lusaka. Conversation lulled and was wan, at best. In bursts of discordant chatter, I spoke of my plans for the rest of my travels. Eddie nodded politely, while he drove across the dry terrain dotted with rondavels. When I said that I was thinking of heading back towards Harare, then south again to Cape Town, he suggested an alternate route.

Why not cut across at Kasane and travel south down Namibia for somewhere you haven’t been before?” he said.

Why not indeed. And with that, plans changed again. I silently wished goodbye to my erstwhile friends in Harare and opened the door to adventure in new lands, as yet unexplored. I still had a ways to go before I could be introduced to this new country for me, but a twinge of excitement filled me again. I fell silent thinking about all the places I had been and people that I had met, but was still present enough to wave at the villagers that we passed who eagerly lifted their hands in greeting. Their enthusiasm still brought a smile to my lips, even after nine months on the road. While Lusaka neared on the road we travelled, my own trail grew as my mind drifted along on a new flight of fancy.  

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