Sunday Morning ~ Cape Maclear
December 17, 2017
I’m sitting in a hanging bamboo chair under a thatched palapa on a secluded beach on Lake Malawi. George is hanging in a chair next to me, his beer in the little round drink holder attached to the woven frame. He’s got a gash on his shin where cement met the bone last evening as we dashed to the dining shelter in the tropical downpour. I’m watching flies buzz around the open wound… I’m going to find a bandaid…it’s bad enough shooing them off the top of the beer bottle, I can’t stand seeing them feast on his blood…
Nine guys are digging a trench from the main lodge to the lake. They did the same thing yesterday: dug a trench, lined it with brinks, covered the bricks with cement, and made a lovely path for the rainwater to travel off the mountain behind us to the lake without damaging the beach. We went off for a little kayaking adventure and returned a few hours later to find they had completed the entire project, something I would have imagined would take a week. We commented on how some things around here work so efficiently. We congratulated them as we walked by, leaving the kayak on the beach as instructed, someone else’s job to deal with that. We walked to our thatched room to shower and sit on the beach to watch the sunset. The lake had calmed since we’d set out. It had gotten so rough, we had to take the kayak ashore to sit out the wind and waves. We found a secluded spot, more secluded than the one we’re on now, to protect us a bit, around the side of the mountain that shields this little resort. There we sat in the surf and talked while the front blew through. When we got to our sunset spot, we commented on how much calmer it was, then heard thunder behind us. Arriving at our hanging chairs, we realized there would be no sunset, as the storm was moving toward us with a vengeance. Our views were soon obliterated and the torrential rain started. We sat in the shelter watching a man put a catamaran, named Mama Afrika, out on its mooring in driving rain, towing it out by hand and swimming back. When we started getting wet we made a dash to the dining room, another thatched shelter about thirty meters away. Water was pouring around the buildings and down the new trench. Roiling water gushing by with waterfalls pouring down the steps. I was barefoot and waded through; George in flip flops missed a step somewhere and fell into the dining room face first, but caught himself with the empty beer bottles he was carrying. The bottles and his shin were the only casualties, fortunately. The mishap didn’t even delay the eggplant fritter appetizer. The man is indestructible.
The new trench, however, was not. This morning when we went to breakfast we saw it had all been washed away, the brinks scattered and the cement now in the lake. I guess the timing was off. Rain came before the cement dried. Today, no complaint, no cursing, no throwing tools, the guys just started over and made the entire thing again, wider this time, now that they can see the path the runoff made. It’s calm now and we sit and watch the fishermen with their lanterns heading out on the lake for the night, the catamaran safe on its mooring, and dark clouds coming at us from the west this time. We’ll see if the trench is there in the morning.
I want to hold on to the image of these men, uncomplainingly starting over and doing the job again, but it’s hard to keep the spirits up sometimes. Then again, I haven’t seen a single fly on the shin since I placed that bandaid. And the crops are happy for the rain.
Love to all,